Hidden among the industrial streets of Long Island City Queens lives the Freed of London showroom and store, the only one of it’s kind in the United States.
From the looks of the building, one would have no idea that on the third floor lies thousands of hand cobblered ballet shoes where dancers from all over the country travel to be fitted for the perfect shoe. Occupying part of the floor of this unassuming building, Freed of London ballet shoes are kept, tailored, and shipped throughout the US and Canada to companies such as the Miami City Ballet, Pacific Northwest, The Boston Ballet and New York City Ballet. Founded in London, England in 1929 by shoe maker Frederick Freed, Freed of London is one of few companies that boasts handmade pointe shoes that are made using the traditional turn shoe method, with a peach-colored satin that is signature to the company. While no one at Freed would be so bold as to admit that Freed is the world’s finest dance shoe, it difficult to see otherwise when admiring the craftsmanship and dedication that is put in to making these fine products.
Classic pointe shoes are the company’s signature and most coveted line of merchandise being hand made in England by a select group of skilled craftsmen who each have their own signature stamp. The stamp is left on the bottom of each shoe as an identifiable mark and dancers can wait upward of a year for their shoes to be made. Choosing a ballet slipper is possibly the most important choice a dancer must make during the course of her career. How the shoe conforms to their foot, how light or flexible it is, and how it can help or hinder their performance are among the preferences that a dancer looks for when choosing the perfect shoe for their foot. Freed of London fits every dancer, both professionally and on a student level, personally by one of their trained fitters. A fitting such as this can take up to an hour and involve the dancer trying on many different shoes to find the perfect fit but that is par for the course in a place such as Freed. If after this fitting the dancer is still not satisfied with their fitting, in house tailor Marie Johansson will further measure the shoes and send them off to London for altering. Brenda Neville one of the main fitters at Freed USA has had a long love of dance and teaches at the Alvin Ailey school when not finding dancers the perfect shoe “I deal with dancers every day and feel that it is an honor to work here at Freed.”
There are other ballet slippers that outlast Freed in terms of price and endurance but none can compare with the light weight elegance of this hand crafted shoe. Everything down to the color and soft feel tells you that it moulds to the foot quickly and makes a dancer feel, well, like a real dancer. Like all truly good things, the shoes do not last long as some dancers can go through two pairs a week or more. Point shoes are not the only item that one can find at Freed as they offer many types of shoes and dance wear for young beginners and professionals alike with their studio line of ballet slippers, ballroom shoes, and even a line of street wear ballet flats.Young dancers can find high end practice wear, leotards, tutus, and all manner of accessory for their budding interest in dance. A trip to the Freed showroom is a unique experience for the most experienced dancer but here in Queens one does not have to travel far to enjoy the sights of hand crafted, old world charm that builds the foundation of a great dancer. The perfect shoe.
- Find Freed - 44-01 21 Street Third Floor Long Island City, NY 11101 1-866-MY-FREED
- Hours 9- 5 Mon-Thurs 9-3 Friday Weekends Closed