The footwear brand FEIT represents a new movement in the menswear space. It can be described as Neo Luxury, and it’s characterized by opting for restraint over excess, minimal well-conceived design over hyped-up flamboyancy and low-impact, environmentally-sustainable, small-batch manufacturing. FEIT fully embodies this paradigm, and their products are collector’s items for footwear connoisseurs. The visionary behind FEIT is Tull Price; he was the motive force behind the popular brand Royal Elastics and he currently oversees the footwear division at Rag & Bone. We asked Tull several questions about his forward-looking footwear label and his answers were quite intriguing. See below …
“At FEIT, construction leads design …”
When was FEIT officially founded and what was the initial vision for the brand?
FEIT was born in 2005 in the mind of creator and sneaker expert Tull Price. The vision was to create amazing quality footwear which spoke to my, this generation.
Is there a certain meaning behind the name “FEIT”?
FEIT is pronounced fight, in short it was created as a word to sum up what we are trying to do, to give all of ourselves to the pursuit of quality. Quality, vision, design, materials and construction.
Where do FEIT shoes fit within the pantheon of luxury shoes among other premium brands like Common Projects, Visvim etc?
I feel that FEIT sits on its own. FEIT is what we call a vanguard in the Neo Luxury movement. Focused on quality over quantity, where excess is replaced by restraint; flamboyance replaced by minimalism; and design is driven by high quality construction, materials, and a low impact work method
I have respect for both Visvim and Common Projects. Visvim, while more similar is more tribal and adorned. Common projects design is sleek, pared back and nicely executed but not handmade in the same manner and does not focus on construction, natural materials or controlled manufacturing in the same way.
Can you quickly talk us through the sourcing manufacturing and design process for each pair of FEIT shoes?
I always start with my maker, looking and thinking about shoe construction and how we can evolve it. From there I take classic styles and build them in the FEIT way, one piece uppers, using very high grade natural materials in the thickness that will work best to realize the design. I’ve been doing this for a while so often there is no sketching. I work on the pattern, and with my master maker just build, usually on our core set of lasts but if necessary we make modifications.
How often do you put out collections and how large are the batches you make of each style?
We do one collection each season but we tend not to work like most brands. I always build on the season before. Fine-tuning, tweaking and adding one or two new styles. At FEIT, construction leads design. Usually we start with the type of construction and think about: how long can it last?; what kind of benefit is it to the wearer? Then we think about the type of materials we’d like to use. This season we started to experiment with horse hide. I wanted to create a trainer but using more elevated leather. Horse or cordovan has traditionally only been used in high-end dress shoes. I wanted to translate that same experience in our Biotrainer.
Since all the shoes are made by hand from start to finish by one of my makers we tend to work in limited numbers. Until this season we would only work in units of 60 per style/color. We are in the process of training new makers to increase capacity, but with extreme caution.
I read that you were also behind Royal Elastics. I had a pair of those back in the day! What’s the #1 lesson you learned with that brand that you are implementing with FEIT?
In the mid 90’s I was excited by and interested in the idea of globalization, the possibility that one could create a global brand with a similar tone that could carry to kids in different parts of the world who spoke entirely different languages but had similar desires and an increasingly similar sense of style…Paris, Tokyo, New York, London. Even you had a pair of Royal sneakers, amazing!
After 10 years of following that path I found myself in a situation where I had to sell my company to a US publicly traded athletic company to keep it alive. My life was taken up by more and more management and less product creation. Generally I found that globalization (coupled with success in the sneaker industry) was a volume, price, mass production driven business which ends with, bi-products of mass production and ultimately homogenization.
FEIT was a reaction, a desire to return to product, and creating something special, unique and uncompromised.
I had a vision of the future based around different ideals and principles, this lead me to spend more time in the factories and tanneries of Europe and learn more about how shoes and boots where originally built and how it had evolved over the years.
I then pulled this knowledge into the creation of modern minimal high quality versions of trainers which had the style and function of products I grew up loving and making.
What’s the nature of your collaboration with Rag & Bone and how did it come about?
Marcus, one of Rag and Bone’s founders and I met in 2001 in NY where I was living at the time working Royal. We became and remain close friends. Just as I was leaving NY In 2003, he was starting Rag and Bone. By the time I returned in 2007, he had built a nice denim based men’s business, and their women’s clothing was starting to thrive. We reconnected, discussed and eventually formed Rag and Bone footwear LLC a partnership between Rag and Bone proper and myself. I direct the company and use the networks, knowledge and experience I have built up over the years.
With regards to your own daily style – is there a particular style uniform you adhere too?
I’m a pretty consistent guy, not too flamboyant, a lot of what I wear comes down to ease and function, including the function of what looks appropriate for my life. My daily uniform is pretty much Black on Black, Navy on Navy or Navy black, occasional grey, more occasionally army green and so on. In the summer I might throw on a light denim, white t shirt. Most of my jeans are ACNE and nowadays I wear a FEIT button down or T-shirt, which are also produced in my favorite uniform colors. I wear one pair of shoes per season to death. At this point I am living in my white Semi Cordovan Biotrainers.
What are some FEIT highlight products we can expect for Spring and Fall 2015?
This season I am most excited about our Biotrainer in Semi Cordovan. I created this shoe for the first time last year. This is the only 100% natural trainer on the market. The unique sole of the FEIT Biotrainer is made of natural latex rubber from the milk of the hevea brasiliensis (rubber tree) plant. The milk is harvested by hand and poured into steel molds immersed in warm water. After one hour, the sole is transferred into a cold water immersion bath that lasts up to 24 hours and helps to keep the rubber pores open while the material cures. After 24 hours of drying, the soles are re-immersed in cold water for one week until they are trimmed and inspected for imperfections. This two-week process results in a light, naturally flexible, and biodegradable sole that contains no plastic. For Spring I combined this sole with the semi cordovan leather I spoke about before. Creating what I believe to be the most luxurious all natural trainer ever made.
For Fall I created a one-piece chunky oxford and boot using the same semi cordovan leather. A chunky handsewn good year welt, and a clear vibram sole (similar to out famous x Ray hiker) which shows the internal construction, bamboo shank, handsewing and cork and leather internal footbeds.
Lastly for people who haven’t given FEIT a look yet, why should they try on a pair?
It’s a different experience from any of their other footwear, especially if you break them in a little and then wear them barefoot. It will be a different and hopefully liberating experience. We also provide great after purchase service including resoling and repairs.
For more information visit, www.feitdirect.com
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