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William Lobdell | Photo: John Gilhooley | January 29, 2013
No bull here—David Zimmerman’s in step with what men want.
If shoes make the man, David Zimmerman is the ultimate hipster with his West Coast version of the East Coast tuxedo slipper. He’s also the man who makes the shoe.
The unlikely cobbler and former pro soccer player is best known as the owner of Matador, a private men’s club discreetly located in a funky Costa Mesa strip mall on East 17th Street. His establishment caters to 300-plus clients who enjoy the open bar (stocked with single malt Scotch and other spirits), all-male conversations and on-site hair stylists. “Guys can just hang out [here],” says Zimmerman, who’s married and has two boys. “This has become a community of men.”
The club evokes an old-school cool, with its black-velvet matador paintings, vintage chessboard and collection of 1960s Playboy magazines. Its vibe made Matador a natural place for Zimmerman to sport a pair of Ralph Lauren tuxedo slippers, which could be the offspring of bowling shoes and ballet flats. But their hard soles and lack of padding—manageable for a black-tie night out—hurt his feet after a few hours. So he modified the design with rubber soles, padded insoles and informal West Coast fabrics.
The footwear caught the eyes of Matador members who encouraged Zimmerman to create a line of everyday tuxedo slippers that would be at home in Newport Coast. After several trips to a manufacturer in China, Zimmerman debuted his first three styles (Biff, Skip and Glen) late last year under the Matador-inspired label, Bull+Tassel.
Much to Zimmerman’s delight, the shoes have generated interest from a number of major retailers, and he produced a video for kickstarter.com to raise the capital needed to fulfill large orders. “Everywhere I go wearing these shoes, people want them,” he says. “It’s a whole new trend.”