South Florida startup The Cobblers is reinvigorating the way we have our shoes, bags and other leather goods repaired
“Sneakerheads,” as aficionados of rare and valuable street shoes have come to be known, have come out of the shadows and into the light in recent years. Entire TV shows and web series are devoted to the debate, dissection and general worship of footwear, from Air Jordans to Yeezys and beyond. But what happens when a sneakerhead’s prized pair of kicks is looking a little worse for wear?
Enter Miami-based startup The Cobblers, a local business on the front lines of reinvigorating a once-ubiquitous service and retooling it to meet the needs of modern customers. The venture provides high-quality repairs for the aforementioned sneakers, along with various other types of shoes, boots, bags, wallets and more.
Jake Goldstein, the digital brand marketing and strategy manager for The Cobblers, refers to the business as a “fashion technology” company with an emphasis on sustainability. As Goldstein tells it, despite the fact that the number of traditional shoe and accessory repair shops has been dwindling throughout the U.S., the ones that remain have been struggling to keep up with demand for repairs. With what was once a niche market rapidly expanding due to that increased demand, The Cobblers stepped in.
“Our vision and our conceptual overview of what we wanted to do,” Goldstein shares, “was to digitize an otherwise dusty and archaic and outdated industry. … The idea was to create a convenient marketplace that not only bridges the gap for the new generation and ever-growing market of sustainable fashion, but to turn a dusty platform into a digital platform.”
And transform the platform they did. Shortly after the business launched, the world shut down with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which may have actually helped to jump-start sales for a team whose model was ready to handle online orders before it was their only option. While Goldstein wasn’t at liberty to share specific figures, he did note that a “large majority” of The Cobblers’ repair orders derive from their online experience.
The business is still young—founded in early 2020—but has its eyes on expansion. In the past year alone, The Cobblers have expanded from their flagship Miami location into Boca Raton after acquiring the two locations of veteran local business Shoe Repair & Beyond. The company is also able to service customers all over the country with video consultations and mail-in repair services.
“We are working on partnering with individual repair shops across the country and having individuals work as independent contractors for our company,” Goldstein says. “So although we aren’t necessarily ‘The Cobblers’ physically in [every state], we do have repair shops working with our company so we can partner up and send items to them for repair, then they send them back.”
Further expansions of the brand include working with a stable of South Florida influencers to promote its services and partnering with high-end brand names like Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton as an authorized repair provider.
Goldstein believes the repair of high-quality goods doesn’t just have ecological and economic advantages—it also comes with an emotional benefit for customers.
“I think the coolest thing is just the look on the customer’s face every single time they come to pick up their items and open the box,” he says. “There’s so much beauty behind what we do … most of the items that get sent to us have some emotional tie or some sentimental value.”
But in the end, as Goldstein makes clear, The Cobblers’ most crucial ambition is to promote sustainability. “A very rewarding aspect is [being a part of] the circular economy and the preservation of the planet,” he says.
“Sustainability is something we practice every day, and it’s so important that as humankind, everybody does their part in saving the world, and also inspiring the next person or the next generation or the next company to do the same. And if we can do that, then we have done our job.”