Not too much to say at the moment ’cause I’m getting my grind on for a few projects including the Sneaker Freaker Swap Meet. But I’ve taken a break to do some good ol’ fashioned plugging. This comes with no outside influence so it’s pretty sincere.
The company I wanted to mention is the Australian footwear masters FEIT (pron. “fight”). Over the years the brothers Price have been and done many a shoe-related thing. During a short period of time they created a mammoth brand (Royal Elastics), had a lukewarm reception to their new idea (FEIT’s first introduction) and then set about thinking differently about how footwear was produced (the FEIT Direct era). Looking at what’s being done in today’s context doesn’t actually seem all that impressive, but if you rewind a good half-decade or so to when FEIT Direct first launched there was close to nothing of the sort.
A little before the relaunch (my partner in crime) Taz and I had cottoned on to FEIT’s footwear, in particular their classic PNTHA boot, a shoe that seemed to forego the awkward detailing of the other FEIT sneakers and come out looking rather impressive indeed. The use of Kudu leather was most intriguing and the silhouette was unlike what sneaker nerds like us were used to but it somehow worked. Not long after though FEIT disappeared, set to relaunch with a whole new outlook on doing things.
When reborn, FEIT was intent on cutting out the middle man, their ill-fated attempts to sell a premium product through store fronts seemed to give inspiration for a new way of going about business. FEIT Direct intended to put the consumer right there buying from the men and women who made the footwear. Things like pre-orders were given discounts, allowing them to know just how many would need to be made and production numbers were limited by just how much of a Kudu, Elk or whatever animal’s hide they had access to. During this time their efforts went widely unnoticed but a select few could see what was happening and things started to grow. During this time amazing shoes like the Stitchdown, Superclean in the most luxurious material I’ve ever seen; Elk suede and the fantastically thought-out X-Ray sole all were contemporary classics.
All of these shoes were hand built, each pair by a single craftsman but contrary to what many would have expected they weren’t created by a Japanese or Italian cobbler. Instead FEIT had the foresight to build them in China, only not as how many would think. Throwing away the stigma that comes with the tag (remember when Made in Japan was a sign of something being crap?) FEIT searched out the finest Chinese footwear artisans to create their masterpieces with each pair wearing their father’s signature. The result was a piece of footwear that was of equal (or arguably even greater) quality than it’s European stud counterparts at half the price. The plan was genius.
In the last few years FEIT have taken their early pieces and simplified them down more and more, to the point where the very least amount of material is used to make the very finest of footwear. In that period of transition to vegetable tanned Italian leathers I will admit I lost a lot of interest in their offerings, with them being more tailored to a different customer by this point. Now and then something has grabbed my eye but in general whilst still having a great respect and admiration for their product I have been left to watch from the sidelines.
Buoyed no doubt by the success of sneakers within the higher fashion circles in the last few years, FEIT however have tapped back into the roots that made them what they are and are releasing their newest model dubbed the Bio Trainer 1, a shoe that applies their super simplistic aesthetic to a sportswear silhouette. In this shoe you can see similarities in both appearance and technique to their older models. The toe is reminiscent of a Stitchdown and the amazingly complex simplicity of the Hevea latex sole reminds me of the early Superclean. The Bio Trainer 1 is up for pre-order now and I have no doubt that they’ll be fantastic.
The Bio Trainer 1 is 100% handmade. It is hand sewn from a single piece of vegetable dyed suede or leather and features a buffalo leather footbed that provides padding, absorbs sweat and breathes as it does in nature.
After a lengthy design process we developed our own 100% natural latex rubber sole made out of the milk of Hevea Brasiliensis (rubber tree).
The milk, harvested by hand in France, is poured into steel molds immersed in warm water. After one hour the sole is transferred into a cold water bath. Cold water immersion lasts up to 24 hours and helps to keep the pores open while the material cures.
The soles are then placed into a hot air dryer which is lined with hundreds of wooden shelves like that of a bakery. After 24 hours of drying, the soles are re-immersed into cold water for one week until they are trimmed and inspected for imperfections.
This two week journey results in a light and naturally flexible sole that contains no plastic.
While not for the gym, or an aggressive jog this shoe will keep you comfortable and cool.