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Inside a Hat Designer's Shoe Closet

John Callanan owns a diverse range of high-end brands and casual styles.

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John Callanan knows what he likes when it comes to accessories. The 45-year-old hat designer for Dorfman-Pacific boasts his own Callanan Resort, Millinery and Legacy labels, and he’s just as passionate about footwear.

“Great accessories, like shoes, belts, watches and, of course, hats make or break the look,” said the New Yorker. “Shoes are the foundation of a good look. It’s so sad to see a guy wearing a great-looking suit with cheap, scuffed-up shoes or, even worse, sneakers. A great pair of shoes that fit well make people feel better about themselves.”

For Callanan, one of life’s simple pleasures is having his shoes shined at Louis Shoe Rebuilder, a shoe repair shop in the Empire State Building. Though the designer admitted to having a shoe addiction early in life, he didn’t have the opportunity to indulge.

“Growing up in Cork, Ireland, I didn’t have the shoe selection to fuel my addiction,” he said. “It really [happened] when I moved to New York 25 years ago.” Today, Callanan’s wardrobe includes a diverse range of tony brands such as Paul Smith and Salvatore Ferragamo, as well as casuals from Keen and Sebago.

Pairs owned: “About 30. I tend to donate old styles somewhat quickly, keeping the count down.”

Brands owned: Prada, Bruno Magli, Kenneth Cole, Sebago, Barneys Co-op, Paul Smith, Salvatore Ferragamo, Cole Haan, Hugo Boss, Keen

Personal style: “Euro chic. I like a more fitted look. American clothing tends to want to hide the body, while European styling accentuates it.”

Most comfortable pair:
“I love all my shoes and rotate them daily. But I do wear my Barneys Co-op dark-brown brogues more often. They’re a more practical choice for running around New York streets.”

Most uncomfortable pair: “Prada slip-on booties. They look great, but after about an hour, they begin to hurt my left arch. I usually slip off the left one under the table while in a restaurant.”

Biggest shoe mistake: “Cole Haan patent dress shoes. I was suffering from the ‘Cinderfella syndrome.’ The shoes were on sale for $70, and I was adamant they would fit. I somehow stuffed my feet into them for a black-tie event, then threw them away when I got home. Sometimes a sale is a waste of money. I also bought a pair of Tony Lama boots while living in Houston some years back. They never really grew on me. I also felt like I was wearing high heels. They ended up as a donation.”

Most ever spent: $400 for a pair of Prada ankle boots

Least spent: $20 for a pair of athletic shoes at Old Navy. “They fell apart after a month.”

All-time favorite pairs:
“That’s a tough one. There’s my jelly sandals from when I was 6 years old. Also, the Kenneth Cole Roman-style laceups I now only wear with my gladiator Halloween costume. The purple-lined Paul Smith laceups I bought while living in Paris. My rainy day boots, lined with beautiful butter calf. There’s also my favorite Spaghetti Western-style short boots in a crackled brown leather from Buttero. They have about a 4-inch side elastic hidden by leather strips [and were] purchased at a Barneys warehouse sale. And how could I forget my olive canvas Ryan Rowe laceups in hibernation until spring? Working from home, I wear my favorite flip-flops from Adidas. The soles have hundreds of plastic pressure points. The first week is like walking on nails. My favorite running shoes for the past six months are, by far, my gray/black GoLites, which I get constant compliments on.”

Favorite going-out shoe:
“I have an adorable pair by Hugo Boss with a patent tip that ombrés back to a charcoal — very sleek and sexy. I wear them with my Energie jeans with an oil-slick finish and a Bogosse shirt. Unless I’m going to be bar hopping, and then it’s my Kenneth Cole or Harley black boots with Diesel jeans and a T-shirt.”

Favorite store for shoe shopping: “Century 21. They have the best selection of designer shoes for under $300.”

Style I’d never be caught dead in: “Crocs. They’re just plain ugly. I also have a pet peeve about people wearing flip-flops on the filthy city streets. All those bad pedicures and hairy toes are so unsexy. I can’t stand wearing shoes without socks.”

Favorite fashion era:
“I like clean contemporary looks. But a classic monk-strap shoe from the 1950s can still look sexy and contemporary.”

Celebrity style you most admire: “Tom Ford. He dresses so stylishly. Even in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, he looks great. He understands accessories. He never looks like he’s trying too hard to be trendy. George Clooney, Matt Dillon and Brad Pitt are all in that stylish gang who don’t have to try to be trendy. They have great personal style.”

Favorite outdoor shoe:
“Keen sandals. They are techy looking and slip-on with a toggle. I wear them to the beach for walking over rocks. They went with me to Chile and Cape Town, South Africa, last year.”

Recent purchase: “A pair by Bruno Magli. Suggested retail was $950, but I snatched them up for $350 at Century 21. They look like jester shoes with a tongue, but they’re really pointy and sexy looking. Definitely not for running around, but for special occasions.”

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