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George Vlagos

Founder, Oak Street Bootmakers

The son of a cobbler, Oak Street Bootmakers founder and design director George Vlagos is keeping Chicago fresh with handcrafted shoes and boots. In an industry where fast fashion is faster than ever, George preserves the fine art of shoemaking with traditional leather processes and designs that are built for a lifetime—with all parts American-made. For example: twenty-eight days and 89 separate processes later, Oak Street’s Chromexcel leather turns into soft, supple and durable leather that are transformed into George’s thoughtful designs.

And forget incessant polishing, the secret to lasting footwear? “The single ‘must’ is that shoes/boots have shoe trees put in them at the end of each day,” explains George. “And not be worn two days in a row.” He recommends placing cedar shoe trees after each wearing to aid in drying moisture left from your feet and to help the shoes keep their shape.

So what’s inspiring George now? “The RRL ranch has always been a point of intersection between the many worlds of Ralph Lauren, and the one with which my brand is most closely aligned to,” says George. We crafted a moodboard inspired by Ralph Lauren’s wild western playground—and equally full of eye candy to satisfy the Southwestern obsessed. While buttery leather abounds, we’re thinking nubby textiles, weathered wood and subtle hints of Americana. >>

SPOTLIGHT_George Vlagos Oak Street Bootmakers Moodboard Ralph Lauren RRL Ranch

Get The Look: A. DIY CRYSTAL SAGUARO CACTUS GROW KIT, $10: You may be miles away from dessert temps, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get instant inspiration on your desktop. // B. THE GFELLER DOCUMENT CASE, $325 // C. EAST OF EDEN by JOHN STEINBECK: Ditch the Cliff’s Notes and indulge in one of American literature’s finest works. // D. DZING EAU DE TOILETTE, $145 // E. HAND BEADED THUNDERBIRD NECKLACE, $225 // F. 41D GERSTNER CHEST, $1,250 // G. NATURAL VIBRAM SOLE TRENCH BOOT, $426: This Oak Street Bootmakers’ boot is made for walking.  // H. BRASS ARMADILLO, $39 // I. PENDLETON SPIDER ROCK BLANKET, $189: Because you can’t channel your inner Americana without Pendleton.