"I think the shoe is one of man's only accessories. We can have a nice watch and shoes and then a pocket square, but the nice shoes are the base of everything," says Boris Van Dyck, owner of ICEBOX and Eventhaus, two event companies in Charleston. "When you feel good and you think you look good, you feel confident."
And Van Dyck takes that motto seriously as he shows off two pairs of shoes: one, leather Salvatore Ferragamos that are best described as a mix between a boot and a loafer, the other a pair of Gucci loafers with a nautical detail thanks to a rope buckle.
"I typically just like wearing nice stuff because it makes me feel put together," he says.
Van Dyck also takes care of his shoes, from storing them in clear plastic boxes with shoe horns in them to deodorizing them to giving them a yearly checkup at Peter and Sons Shoe and Luggage Repair in Windermere. "Once a year I'll bring in a bunch, whether they have to be resoled or just the leather treated so they don't dry out and crack. Leather, as long as you keep it treated and keep it supple, it lasts a really long time," he explains. "I used to be really horrible about taking care of my shoes. I think the first expensive pair I bought — because I bartended a lot and was tromping around downtown — they got abused. Then I figured out that if you take care of them, they last 10 times as long. It was very life changing."
But even before the shoe collector was paying the big bucks on his footwear, he knew how to make sure he looked sharp. "I love getting a shoe shine at the airport. You get up there and you get your newspaper and you feel very executive," he admits. The hobby, if you will, began when he was the manager at Anson restaurant. "I would always swing into Charleston Place and have that gentleman shine them and then make sure they're nice and clean and bright for dinner service."
Nowadays, he does most of his shopping online, but he likes to pop into the annual sale at Bob Ellis and pick up some new additions to his 60-plus collection. "You never know when you're going to need a pair of blue suede loafers," Van Dyck jokes.
Van Dyck doesn't like to pay full price for his kicks "I have trouble spending a lot of money on shoes," he adds. "Specifically, I don't mind spending $100-$150 if they're going to last." But he has spent $400-$450 on a pair of Salvatore Ferragamo boots, which he knows is expensive for men's shoes.
Although he's not all fancy. He knows how to kick back and find the right shoes to match. "I grew up on the beach, and I grew up surfing, so I live in flip-flops," Van Dyck says. "I was almost tempted to bring a pair of flip-flips today. I'm a die-hard Reef's fan."