My friend Mr. Allan Baudoin has come a long way since being just a young computer science student from Paris to launching his own bespoke shoe label ‘Allan Baudoin’ and now going one step further by entering the RTW shoe game with his famous Belgian loafer, the ‘Sagan’ under the name of Baudoin & Lange. It’s great as well as I saw Allan a long time struggling to find his niche and figure out how to properly enter and how to make a scalable company in the shoe industry and it seems like he has finally done so and I could not be happier for him.
So, I thought to ask him a few questions to get a bit deeper into his history and vision and have them all below, unfiltered for you.
1. What is your background? I.e. where from and how did you end up in London?
I?™m originally from Paris and moved to London in 2007 to study computer science, then did a masters in management. My first job was at the European HQ of Apple in London working in business development, I then joined a video games company to manage the marketing and e-commerce for a mobile video games company.
2. How long have you been involved in shoes? Where did you learn?
I left my corporate job in the summer of 2013, and put all my savings into starting my shoemaking journey. I started by meeting an amazing shoe laster (maker), Kasim with whom I still work every day – he showed the the craft of making shoes by hand which fascinated to the point that two weeks later I was renting a workshop in London and already making shoes with him, first for my own use then for friends and the public. I learned everything as I went, meeting all the artisans involved in the process and making the shoes myself with Kasim and a closer from John Lobb. I then developed a wider and wider network of artisans and supplier and ended up getting the activity off the ground while still making shoes myself.
3. Why the Sagan’s for your first RTW project? Do you have a physical place to come get them or only online?
This one model, the Sagan is for me the most innovative product I have created, even more than most bespoke creations I have worked on. The first rough iteration of it was now two years ago, it started as my own shoes for the workshop, needing an indoor-friendly and very comfortable shoe to spend all day in.
Seeing the reaction of people when they saw it for the first time and the success in selling them to my bespoke clientele is what gradually hinted me to start a new brand with this model at the center of it. There is something incredible about how simple these are, the design is very stripped down, the last is elegant yet classical, and this makes them the most versatile in style and use that I?™ve seen in any type of shoe.
We are a direct to manufacturer e-commerce with Baudoin & Lange, which means we focus on giving the best online service and customer experience as is possible. The good thing about the Sagan is that it is a great product to buy online as the fit is a lot more forgiving than the usual lined shoes with counters and toe puffs. We also provide extensive information about how to choose your size.
People are also more than welcome to visit us in our garage-style atelier in Dalston, it is a very cool place and you can see the shoes being made which is quite special.
We have a showroom table here with all the samples and sizes where customers can create their order and receive their shoes at home straight from our workshop or pick them up if they are in stock.
From the 10th of October onwards we will have the same table in Paris for people to try shoes and order at our friends at Ardentes Clipei, a young rising parisian bespoke and MTM/MTO tailor – located 28 rue de la Boétie 75008 firstname.lastname@example.org (+33 6 77 03 84 33)
We are now working on finding some showroom space in central London to deploy the same display concept.
4. What’s next for you or your company?
We are planning to first excel at Sagans and other loafers styles based on the same apron pattern and unlined concept, we?™ve now just launched the tassel Sagans, the exotics (alligator and lizard) and 3 new colours are on their way (ash red-grey, tobacco tan and electric blue) – we will very soon be exploring more materials and MTO options as we go.
In the near future the next development are grained leathers and penny loafers, for the rest we?™d like to keep it a surprise but our goal is to make the most beautiful AND comfortable dress shoes on the market – the Sagan epitomises what we want to do later on the wider dress shoe market.
5. What’s the ethos of your brand? What do you hope to get across with your shoes?
We put a lot of effort in craftsmanship and the highest attention to the materials we use, we do not take any shortcuts in the shoemaking process that could lower the standards of our making. Coming from a bespoke angle, we give a lot of attention to details that are invisible to the naked eye but that do make a difference in the way the shoe fits, breathes and lasts over time. We believe that there is no reason why beautiful shoes can?™t also be supremely comfortable.
We want to share with the public how shoes are made by hand, and through their awareness of what it takes to make their shoes, keep the craft alive. Inside B&L we know that our artisans, their skills and their knowledge are our most important asset, and this reflects in the way we put them at the centre of our company.
6. What is the difference between Allan Baudoin and Baudoin & Lange?
Allan Baudoin is my bespoke and made to measure brand whereas Baudoin & Lange is my ready to wear brand with my business partner Bo van Langeveld with whom we decided to launch this new company when seeing the potential of the Sagan and its separate market and offering than AB. Allan Baudoin is at a higher price point and you can do anything you want through the bespoke service. BL’s concept is very comfortable luxury shoes so every shoe we’ll make under this brand will follow this, all of them will have padded insoles and retain elements of a soft upper.
I have to say that the loafers are really nice. They use lamb suede and to be honest, I have never felt suede so nice. It is like the cashmere of suede. I also like how snug of a fit they are, really not leaving much room for error though. I predominantly would be a UK6.5 (i.e. 40.5) but in the Sagan took the 40, which allows for me to wear either with very thin cotton socks or going without as you can see in my pasty white feet images!
The product is very well made which is quite evident not only in pictures but when you have the real thing in hand. You cannot even compare them to the majority of slipper offerings out there that have been saturating the market in the last few years. Allan does a good job at keeping in tune with his handmade ethos when creating his Sagan loafer which makes it more of an artisanal product that is not extremely readily available as would be in a factory production but rather made with passion and craftsmanship in a small workshop, making pair by pair. You know that sweat and tears go into each pair which for me helps justify the ?265 pricepoint as it is evident that handmaking was actually involved unlike most of the claims that ?people make about their slippers that cost ?99.
I have always wished Allan well and am truly pleased that his visions are now coming to fruition. If you like to help out the new generations of the shoe industry, then by all means help support my friend Allan who is a great guy that will do many great things for this industry!