FEIT has consistently been one of my personal favorite brands for quite some time now. I would argue their effect on the footwear industry is so great that they’ve been a large reason why brands are starting to experiment more with raw edge leather, one-piece constructions and using a beautiful, distinct, raw and natural leather aesthetic.
It’s been a pleasure to watch them grow and add more styles over the past few years since I last reached out to them (check out our first interview here). From their Bio-Trainers to their 8-eye lace up boots, they’ve continued to innovate while keeping their unique aesthetic and message constant.
It’s been a while since we heard from them so I thought it was about time to reach out. Luckily, Co-Founder Josh Price was gracious enough to answer a few questions. From their latest Shoe Drive initiative, to where they see the brand heading in the near future, you can check out the interview in full, below.
It’s been 3 years since we last caught up, how have things changed for yourselves and the brand?
The major change has been opening 2 stores in NY. We have always had a base there, but now have our shops. It’s been a big undertaking from looking for appropriate sites, to designing the spaces, the build and finding people to join our team. Well worth it though, NY has long been a city that has supported us, so it is great to have direct contact with our NY customers as well as the many others who pass through the city.
We have also been able to help train some more makers in that time, so we are now able to produce a few more shoes than we could previously.
Where do you see the brand heading in the near future?
More of the same in a sense. Keep honing what we are doing and expanding where we can. We would love to open more stores, but it takes some time to be able to do so. In the meantime we continue the quest to find the best materials, constructions and craftspeople in order to make the best shoes and accessories we possibly can. On top of that we will keep learning – form our customers and the people we are lucky enough to work with.
I noticed you started a FEIT Shoe Drive, could you tell us a little more about it?
The homeless population in New York City has reached nearly 60,000 this year, 40% of which are children. Since 2005, the number of homeless New Yorkers has increased by 85%, reaching the highest levels since the Great Depression. Thousands of unsheltered homeless families, children and the mentally ill sleep on New York City streets, and most people never stop to consider their story.
We partnered with 2 great charitable organisations – It’s From the Sole and The Bowery Mission with a view of making a contribution.
The Bowery Mission is right across the road form our NY flagship. It has served homeless and hungry New Yorkers since 1879. This year, The Bowery Mission provided more than 406,000 meals to men, women and children, 91,000 nights of shelter and 44,000 articles of clothing, as well as showers, haircuts, and expert medical and optometric care.
Our idea was to place as many shoes as possible on the feet of those in need with the help of the aforementioned organisations and our customers. We have asked the public and our existing customers to donate a gently worn pair of shoes. A percentage of sales from purchases made during the shoe drive will be used to cover the cost of repairing and refurbishing the shoes before finding them a new home. As a token of our appreciation, those who donate will also receive 25% towards their FEIT purchase. We will be accepting donations at both FEIT New York locations: 2 Prince Street and 11A Greenwich Avenue, as well as online at feitdirect.com.
What has been the most challenging aspect of owning and operating an independent footwear brand?
There are many, but I’d have to say the hardest part has been knowing when and where to use our limited resources. We have always made product our number one priority, but following that the question of where and how to utilise our resources is always challenging.
How was the transition from only having direct to consumer online sales, to opening flagship stores in Sydney and New York?
We have had our Sydney store for almost 10 years, so we were familiar with the retail environment. Whilst NY is a different market our experiences in Sydney definitely served as a guide. The principles of high quality service, knowledge and a symbiotic relationship with our customers apply regardless of location.
Why did you choose a Goodyear Welt construction on a lot of your shoes?
Why use Handsewn Goodyear construction because it leads to the best results in terms of comfort, wear and adaptability. It also ensures that shoes can be resoled.
How important is sustainability to you both personally, and as a brand?
The fact that it is important to us personally means it is important to the brand. They are one and the same in a sense. I often say that we would apply the same principles to whatever we happened to be doing, be it making food or building houses.
Last time you told me that your favorite model was the PNTHA Hi, still true?
I think the Biotrainer may have surpassed it….!
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