When Luis Velez calls himself a shoe guy, he doesn't just mean he's a collector—his personal closet includes a modest 35 pairs, though he admits to coveting many more. No, Velez takes "shoe guy" status to the next level: In 2018, the designer and self-proclaimed sneakerhead launched his high-end clothing and footwear brand Guillermo Bravo, and last November he opened his first store, Corre.
"I never thought I’d be able to have a brick-and-mortar so soon," Velez says, of the chic slip of a shop in Madrona. But he couldn't resist when friend and fellow Colombian Shadia K’David approached him about partnering when she relocated her other business, Salua Lingerie, to Madison Valley. Velez says it was around the time beloved Capitol Hill boutique Totokaelo announced it was shuttering and he was reminded of Seattle's need for independent retail shops, particularly those that can curate experiences. "I said, 'Can I bring all the brands I've been obsessing over forever? And [Shadia] said, 'Absolutely.'…I want [Corre] to be the kind of experience you'd find in Japan: You walk into a jazz bar that only sells single-origin coffee. And you're like, Can I live here forever?"
Indeed, Corre feels like the kind of place you could easily move into—bright, warm, shockingly approachable for such minimalist design—though Velez hasn't yet been able to implement a planned surprise element: happy hour collaborative events with his connections in the restaurant industry (think La Dive, L'Oursin, Spinasse, etc.). That will come as Covid restrictions permit.
Velez wanted to wait until everything was perfect before opening the doors, but if ever a year helped us disassociate with the idea of perfection, it was 2020. He humbly points out that the light fixtures aren't in, the art's not installed, and they don't yet have the planters that will lend the space an inviting, natural vibe. But the important stuff is there: a couple of racks showcasing Velez's Guillermo Bravo clothing designs and custom-built shelves displaying his sneakers alongside favorite shoe brands like Casbia, Gray Matters, Peterson Stoop, Brandblack, and more. Velez says Corre is the only West Coast purveyor of many of these—for some, the only U.S. supplier.
Velez's aesthetic, both in the items he creates and those he curates for the shop, focuses on the intersection of function and fashion. He didn't know if his genderless, avant garde style would resonate with the "Madrona mom crowd," he says. But just as he is sharing this concern, a woman walks by the front windows looking straight out of Harajuku—dressed in a very stylish, very loud, floral print bomber jacket, with a structured gold tote bag hitched at her elbow. We both stop to admire. Maybe the neighborhood's street style is ready for Corre after all.