Their story began in
1924. A story of a local dancewear
company that started out small but became the first name in dance.
Dancewear Inc. was founded more than 85 years ago by trained shoe designer, Leo
Harris. His singular dream was to
produce the world's finest handcrafted shoes.
He began in the old Capitol building in downtown Chicago, where the
location would eventually shape his destiny.
door to Balaban & Katz's Chicago Theatre, across from the State-Lake
Theatre and a short distance from the Oriental Theatre, Leo's shoemaking
establishment gave the dancers and choreographers a place to go for quick fixes
and repairs. Each of Leo's neighboring
theatres had stage shows, ballets and as many as eight to ten musicals playing
simultaneously. Demand for handmade and
individually designed shoes in the theatre world was high. And as the old adage goes, Leo Harris was in
the right place at the right time. An
American business was born.
in Europe, Leo Harris built his line of dance shoes based on his customers'
requests and suggestions. He worked with
local dancers and visiting professionals to include what they wanted in
designs. Leo researched the anatomy of
the body, the physics of dance, and molded them into dance shoes that worked in
harmony with the dancer to achieve optimum performance. The "Rainbow Arch,"
"On-The-Square Toe," and "Expanding Heel," were among Leo's
early innovative ideas.
began to revolve more around schools than professional dancers, another
opportunity presented itself. Teachers
needed shoes and costumers for performances and competitions. Progression from dance shoes to bodywear,
costumes, tights, and accessories seemed logical and inevitable.
Dancwear has grown to more than 150 employees and a 100,000 square foot office
space, manufacturing facility, warehouse, and distribution center.