Fashion & Beauty Editor
J.J. Gray’s Fashion Week trunk show introduced a superior line of custom-made boots and Oxfords for men and women. Jessica Perdomo, founder and CEO of the company, spent her childhood in Corona, Queens, even though she was born in the Dominican Republic. After a career at Ralph Lauren and other luxury houses, she created her own boot and shoe line. For men and women, her classic collection features custom, handcrafted riding boots and oxfords up to (European) size 48!
Her dream of working in the fashion industry started at a young age. She recalls growing up and having to wear sneakers with holes in them because her family couldn’t afford to purchase a new pair for her. Back then, her feet were always in pain. “We often had to boil the water to bathe,” she shared. As a kid, she sold lemonade at Belmont Racetrack and also began working as a cashier at 13 years of age. Her mom passed at an early age. Both grandparents—her grandfather was a tailor, and her grandmother was a home health aide—are from the Dominican Republic. They taught her the importance of being resilient. With her first paycheck, she purchased a new pair of shoes and vowed never to feel ashamed of poverty again.
“Being a designer takes hard work and patience,” said Perdomo. Because of her background, she works to surround herself with luxury.
Soft, comfortable shoes are important. For fall ’16/’17, J.J. Gray showed two sturdy, yet comfortable, footwear fashion styles: the riding boot and the Oxford. They believe in Old World values. “Our shoes define us, perhaps too much so,” `stated Perdomo. “It is also the case with so many of life’s greatest treasures.”
Perdomo discovered her shoes quite by accident, while on a fun trip to Spain. She met a family there who had been custom designing and hand-making shoes for three generations. They perfected a last that is featured on all J.J. Gray shoes. The family’s source of their supple calfskin comes from local tanneries. To treat their hides, they do not use harsh chemicals. Today, the company services many celebrities, including star athletes.
Perdomo is committed to growing J.J. Gray and giving back to the community. In the near future, the company plans to donate sneakers to children in need. “Confidence comes from both the soul and the sole,” commented Perdomo. “Everyone deserves to have a pair of shoes on their feet that feels good to wear and makes them feel good, too.”
J.J. Gray’s collection is available at http://jj-gray.com.