I recently had dinner with my good friend Marcos Fernandez of Septieme Largeur & Orbans here in NYC at the Maxwell’s Chop House (insane Ribeye’s for those steak lovers), where we had a very interesting discussion about the footwear industry.
For the many of you who have never heard anything about Marcos Fernandez, allow me to share a brief bit about his past and what he has done for the industry. He has created all of these brands: Bowen, Emiling, Markowski, Septieme Largeur and Orban’s and also introduced many classic models to the French culture like Sebago and Doc Martens. Just to say the bare minimum. You can read the rest†HERE
So as one does when two shoe people are at the same table, we discussed the footwear industry and what we saw and felt was going on. Marcos, over the years, has been quite the catalyst to many ideas, innovations and things that we see and appreciate in the†footwear industry. I have never met another that studies the industry more than Marcos does, not even myself included. He is very in tune with what is going on, and what everyone is doing and what customers are looking for. And his brain is always going, always drumming up ideas to create, new businesses/products to offer etc. You can see that the clock is always ticking and has been pre-wound, permanently.
He told me a lot about what he feels the consumers are turning towards and that is something more athletic, more comfortable and ultimately less classic. Hence this genre of fusion shoes (e.g. Nike & Cole Haan), wearing sneakers with suits (and it being “fashionable”), and the use of a lot of rubber soles. He feels that people want to step away from classic for this new modern idea of being comfort chic. To some†extent, I agree and can see this happening in the industry. Some of it I like, some of it I hate. A dress upper should not have a Nike air sole. But the examples that you see in this post (all by Septieme Largeur) are nice, particularly the patina sneaker and boot which are both†favorites of mine. But I would never think of wearing them with a suit.
Yet I personally like to believe that we are becoming more aware of what we to choose to put on our bodies and more and more people are turning towards good quality leather footwear. But maybe I am just stuck in my niche world of The Shoe Snob and forgot to really pay attention to what is happening to the common man that probably couldn’t care less. But with globalization and the internet, I do feel that there are more dress shoe brands selling leather soled shoes now more than ever.† And yes, while the trainer industry is also growing, I feel like these two things are doing so because people are starting to care more about dressing nicely than simply wearing their New Balance with a suit.† People are trading their running shoes for a leather sneaker. Or upgrading their Steve Madden shoes to a Meermin.
So we discussed all of this over some fine food and asked ourselves, ‘where do we go from here?’ Well Marcos always has tricks up his sleeve that I am sure you will be seeing soon. And me, well, I will keep preaching about dress shoes and the fact that we should all wear them……. And now we just have to see where the world goes.