Last year, the Swedish online store Skolyx launched its first own collection of Goodyear welted shoes in the budget segment, which consisted of a number of more dressy models. Now a new collection of more casual models is launched, which I intended to present closer here and also go more into how it was developed.
As I’ve written before, I started working for Skolyx after the summer. When I previously worked at the shoe company Kavat and handed their men’s shoe brand Italigente, I wrote the Italigente Uncovered article series, which was a bit of a glimse into the work behind the scenes there. I will not do an equally structured thing this time, but there will be some articles every now and then when there are interesting things to tell.
Like now, when we just launched a new collection for our own brand, with some sturdier, more casual models. It was one of the first things I wanted to get started with when sometime late this spring it was settled that I would start to work for the company, and I and Emil, who runs Skolyx, directly started talking to the Mallorca factory that makes Skolyx’s private label shoes. Should be mentioned that most of this is about the four low shoes, the boot comes a bit separately, one can say, more about it further down.
Inspiration mainly comes from the old American shoe manufacturers, from obvious ones like Alden, but also old models from the middle of the last century made by Florsheim and Nettleton for example. Sites like Vcleat, Vintage Shoes Addict and Classic Shoes for Men are all excellent sources for those who want to see and learn more about vintage shoes, not least American.
Secondly, it was about getting a good last with a rounder, more spacious toe but still with the same nice fit in the arch as many experience that the regular Skolyx shoes have. Here we quite quickly found the right way, with a last that is very traditional but not too clumsy. Ben the last is called. The models for Skolyx’s own line are always real basics, this goes for these as well. We have a Plain Toe Blucher in brown suede and dark brown smooth leather, and a longwing model in black and dark brown grain. Regarding the latter, among the older American shoes there are two schools, one of which runs on a really rough brogue pattern with big holes and big gimping (the nagging along the edges of the leather), one with a more standard variant of these which makes them a bit less rough in their expression. We chose the latter.
That there would be a storm welt and a so-called 360 ° welt (when the welt and the stitches run around the entire shoe) were a given in this case, a bit harder was to get the thickness of the sole so that it didn’t become to sleek or too heavy. A combination of storm welt, thin midsole in leather and the durable rubber sole used on the previous Skolyx models were excellent.
The biggest problem we encountered was the leather sourcing, which unfortunately also made the shoes a couple of months late compared to what was first planned (obviously not ideal to launch a shoe collection in mid December). Firstly, we wanted a bit warmer brown suede, and it was hard to find the right one. Finally we found what we were looking for from an Italian tannery, but it took a while before delivery. Also parts of the grain leather which comes from the French tannery Du Puy were delayed.
The first Skolyx models are priced at €195, and the 200 euro bar were something we would like to keep this below. The problem is that the models we wanted to make require quite big leather pieces, which means higher material costs, and the storm welt and double sole make the cost higher for production, and the Skolyx shoes are already quite pressed when it comes to the margins, since focus is on offering as much shoes as possible for the money for the cusomters. A challenge, in other words. For the material, with a some work on the patterns, we could keep the nice look that a “wholecut” PTB has and “full longwing”, but as you see if you look closer at the joints on its insides we could use smaller pieces of leather. One could have the same cost for the wholecuts, but then need to use poorer quality of the leather, which we did not want. The cost of storm welt and midsole was also still here. We could have chosen to save elsewhere, for example, using leather stiffeners in plastic instead of leather board, but that was nothing we wanted to do, so instead we had to realize that they needed to be a bit more expensive. Now they cost €219, still very much shoes for the money, I can promise.
The Chelsea boots in grain leather are priced at €219, and it is made up with the Swedish artis Måns Zelmerlöw (who loves chelsea boots apparently) and Alexander Wiberg who run the menswear site/TV show/podcas tChevaleresk. Here it’s still a single city rubber sole that is used, with a 270° welt, made on the same lat, Ben, as the shoes.