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Bergdorf's Top Shoe Salesman Tells (Almost) All

We chatted with Antonio Amato, one of Bergdorf's top shoe salesmen about the crazy requests he gets, the most comfortable designer shoes, the most pairs he ever sold to one customer (hint: more than 20!), and much more. Love shoes? You'll love Antonio.
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We first learned about Antonio Amato, one of

How do you go about figuring out what type of shoes to recommend to a person? I greet the customer and I try to determine what type of shoe she is looking for and if it’s for a special occasion. Afterward, I use my knowledge of merchandise to find the best shoes for her from our assortment. Every person is an individual. In conversation, you understand what they are looking for, for what occasion.

What was the most expensive pair of shoes you've ever sold? The most expensive shoe that I sold was a pair of crocodile boots, that were $9,900 dollars. I sold maybe one or two pairs. What is the most number of shoes you've ever sold to one person? How many shoes have you sold in one day? The most I’ve sold to one person in one transaction was 28 pairs. I can’t reveal the name, but it was to someone well-known in fashion, who is a regular customer of mine [Editor's note: Ooh, guesses, anyone?] When this person shops, she never shops for one or two pairs.

The most I ever sold in one day was 60 pairs. When you have a customer who buys multiple pairs during a sale, you can usually sell more. [Fashion people] tend to come earlier in the season to shop because they want the exclusive that no one else has. The “best” season [for selling] is in the fall. People start to shop in August, when some of the fashions are out. October is also a good month.

How weather-centric are New York women? I don’t sell Uggs in the salon, so what do you suggest for winter? Most of the time we [still] suggest boots. Like fur boots. Or regular boots. The snow doesn’t last long in New York.

Have you ever had a customer request Ugg boots? Yes, it has happened before [Writer’s Note: Normally, I couldn’t dream of anyone walking into Bergdorf and requesting Uggs. But, Amato has such a kind twinkle in his eye that I could see how people could let down their guard.] [I usually suggest] other items like we have [a boot] from Chanel and other vendors that are similar to Ugg boots, like Jimmy Choo.

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What is your craziest shoe-selling story?

What is your craziest shoe-selling story? One of my customers, whose name I can’t reveal, once called me and said, “Can you send shoes to the island?” I said, “Yes, we can deliver to anyplace in the island [meaning Long Island], or down to the shore.” She replied, “No, my island, my island in the Caribbean.” At that time, [she requested] about 15 pairs of shoes.

Who has traveled the farthest to shop at the Bergdorf shoe department? We have had the Queen of Norway, Queen of Sweden, the one from the Philippines, princesses of Japan, and a very well-known princess from a country in South Africa. [Writer’s note: No Kate Middleton?]

What are you seeing as the bestsellers for Fall/Winter? The big trends are: booties, crystal evening shoes and colorful pumps. Tall boots and smoking slippers are big too.

What is the most comfortable pair of high heels? Since I don’t wear high heels I can only tell you what women have said. I’ve been told the BB pump from Manolo Blahnik and the YSL Tribute platform pump are both very comfortable. As a man, how do you familiarize yourself with the women's shoe merchandise? I try to become familiar through fashion magazines, seasonal fashion/trend presentations given by Linda Fargo [BG's SVP, Fashion Office and Store Presentation] and designer product knowledge clinics. Designer clinics are a great tool for me, as I get to meet the designers, see the collections and understand the inspirations behind the shoes. Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and many others designers have been in the store to present to us.

What would surprise people about your job? I think people would be surprised to know how many miles we walk each day to get the shoes from the stock room. I actually cancelled my membership at the gym many years ago because of all the exercise I get at Bergdorf Goodman!

Photos: Ashley Jahncke