Red Dot Design Award – EFFIE
‘Before we start off, you should know that I’m not a real designer. I’m much more interested in the story behind something. Last year, we engaged a special head of design for the men’s collection. When he sees a shoe from the 1990s, he immediately knows the year, brand, and production line. We talk a lot about shoes, and I’ve come to notice that my interest in the background story is growing, while he’s purely interested in the sole, stitching, and materials. Perhaps I’d rather win an EFFIE than a Design Award, although winning prizes isn’t that important to me.’
Niche – mainstream
‘I really enjoy music by Robert Flynn, lead singer and guitarist of the heavy metal band Machinehead. Although the band is world-famous, they’re still genuine people on stage. This inspires me. If someone takes an in-depth interest in what they do, you’ll recognize this in their performance. A great deal of thought has to go into everything that leaves our premises. In other words, I’d rather receive a Christmas card with crazy curlicues than some stupid stock photo. I want everything we do here to be of added value. I’d want the person receiving it to think about it longer than another person’s product. Otherwise, it’s a waste of energy.’
can’t be replicated by any robot.’
Signature – freedom
‘The only assignment I was ever given was by my father: ‘Just start’. I always start on a white piece of paper, without guidelines. If there is anything like a signature at all, it’s precisely this ‘freedom and variation’. My brother recently said: ‘Our marketing policy is actually inside your head!’ Still, someone needs to be able to replace my brothers and me some day. A new head of design forces me to put certain things on paper. If I were to have a car accident tomorrow, the repercussions would go further than the line we have charted out.
Traditional craftsmanship – digitalization
‘You have to know what you are doing. Our factory is located just five metres away. Everyone who comes to work here has to learn to make shoes first – even an administrative assistant. Every figure is a pair of shoes that has undergone a great deal of work.
You choose a design and a type of leather and take a look at all the machines. The more difficult work is done by our more experienced employees, because not everyone is capable of stitching a straight line. Lasting*, for example, takes a great deal of skill. But everyone can apply stain to the side of the sole. What our people make can’t be replicated by any robot.
I believe that robotization only contributes to mass production. An online design tool, like that of Nike, gives you the impression that you’re designing, but all those colour fields, soles, rings, and shoe laces won’t make your shoe any more attractive! 3D printing, however, can disrupt the entire clothing industry. Being able to print your shoes and jumpers at home is a revolution of far greater significance than the steam engine! I have no idea how our shoe factory will be able to survive in the future. Still, strong brands will always continue to exist. We are, after all, a family-run company and not a hollow label, like Camel shoes. We think in generations, not quarters. We don’t talk in euros, but in pairs of shoes. Today, we’re still the only bespoke shoe factory in the Netherlands. We owe all these things to my grandfather’s vision: ‘We make only good shoes and will not cut costs to do so.’
* Lasting = the operation that stretches the shoe upper over the foot form or last.
Sophisticated ladies’ shoes.