No matter what a person wears, in the end, shoes are what make the outfit. But what about those who may have larger than average feet? Thankfully, Le Dame Footwear has come to the rescue. Le Dame is the only shoe company in North America making women’s shoes in men’s sizes. Footwear is designed to meet the needs of customers who wear a women’s size 10 and a half to 17 (wide) or a men’s size 9 to 15 (medium). Shoes sold include platforms, sandals, flats, boots and even ballet flats.
Located in Verona, Wisconsin – just outside of Madison – Le Dame was founded and owned by Bernie J. Fatla in 2007. Born in northern Wisconsin, Bernie is a graduate of UW- Green Bay and a former member of the United States Peace Corps. Throughout his life, he’s been in the footwear industry for 26 years and traveled the world, settling in Verona in 1980. One morning, as he was reading the New York Times lifestyle section, he realized there was a huge market not being addressed: cross dresser and transgender footwear.
Throughout the years, Fatla says, “we have invested in our products to make them the best we can.” He continues by saying they have put in countless tests like weight distribution, numerous fits and durability. “It took us four different factories to find the right makers,” Fatla adds. There is a U.S. factory that can create custom products for those who know what they like and how they like it. Le Dame ships around the world from Australia to the United Kingdom to even New Zealand.
Along with the logistics of shoe making, Fatla is committed to listening to his audience, understanding what they want in footwear and how to best serve their needs. “I don’t know of anyone else doing what we’re doing,” says Fatla. “We go to conferences and talk to our consumers.”
In the world of drag queen fashion, Le Dame has been apart of RuPaul’s Drag Race for three different season as well as the official footwear supplier of Walk A Mile In Her Shoes fundraisers for local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and other sexualized violence education, prevention and remediation programs. The official shoe worn at these walks is the red, 4-inch pumps given to participants. At the end of the year, Le Dame also makes a donation back to the international organization.
Fatla says his interest in the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce is the ability to network and communicate with the community that he wishes to sell his shoes to. Le Dame is apart of the Madison bridal shows in order to gain more exposer and talk to their future customers.
For more information, Le Dame Footwear can be found on Facebook and online at LeDame.com.