When Percy Steinhart first started working on making the velvet slipper relevant back in the early 1990s, he figured might need a name for his brand. He floated an idea he had for a while: Holden & Caulfield. “But,” he jokes, “I was told that J. D. Salinger might not be too happy.”
Back then, he had around 400 slippers in a Palm Beach apartment he was eager to sell, many adorned with elegant sporting themes. Steinhart’s slippers looked brilliant with a tuxedo. They also paired perfectly with shorts and jeans—and everything in between.
He just needed a name that would stick.
“Since a lot of our first motifs referenced Equestrian subjects, the name Stubbs came to mind,” he says, referring to George Stubbs, the 18th-century English artist known for his paintings of horses. Having grown up with friends that collected sporting pictures, he then went through a repertoire of names that would work with Stubbs.
He searched and searched and finally came across another English painter of sporting subjects named John Wootton. Seeing the double consonant and hearing double vowels come out of his mouth, Steinhart realized that the name just fit. From that moment, he was able to take footwear once destined for Royals and Clerics and make it available to all.
Steinhart grew up in both Cuba and Palm Beach, often pinballing back and forth. Back then, slippers and fashion were not on the forefront of his mind. “I was destined to go into banking because my maternal great grandfather, Narciso Gelats, founded the prestigious Banco Gelats in the mid-nineteenth century. Our clientele included the original Spanish families—and even the Holy See. My other great grandfather, Frank Steinhart, was a “Rough Rider” and later first Consul General … and Teddy Roosevelt’s confident. Along with owning the Havana Electric Railway, he was also a partner of the Banco Territorial de Cuba.”
Percy says he was fortunate to have these great jobs and experiences, but it wasn’t for him. “It was a decision to change careers that made me think of going into the auction business—which was unaffordable—and in the end the slippers happened.”
It’s been a nice run for Stubbs & Wootton, even in recent years. “Our most loyal clientele allowed us to survive 2020 and are seeing quite an upsurge in 2021. Fortunately, the slipper can be worn at home just as easily as it can be worn out in a ballroom. We are getting ready to see them worn with shorts and bathing suits as the Northern temperatures surge.”
“We were successful in Southampton for years,” he adds, “and have often considered Greenwich to be our next location. I have a house in Litchfield and noticed more and more people are wearing our slippers in the Northwest part of the state. We seem to be growing in Southern California, Texas, and all over Europe—particularly in London.”
Steinhart is very proud of the Stubbs & Wootton boutique in Greenwich. “We love the location of our Greenwich showroom, where the existing boisserie and pendant lights lended itself to making a very attractive space, which is for once a bit more masculine.”
This year Stubbs & Wootton has developed striking new tote bags for both men and women, iconic espadrilles, and the rebirth of the women’s slide sandal—perhaps the next shoe Steinhart can make even more prevalent.