Since the launch of Nike’s Air Jordan line 30 years ago, sneakers have become a staple in every man’s wardrobe. Inherently comfortable, the sneaker’s versatility is its greatest virtue. Sneakers can jazz up your office casual, dress down a suit for date night, or add a bit of flare to your leather jacket weekend look. With so many brands and styles to choose from, sneakers are also a great articulation of personal style. One of our favorite new brands, Axel Arigato, has just celebrated their first year of production. The company has been making some of the most stylish kicks we have seen and is committed to releasing a new design every week, in rapid response to emerging trends they feel worthy of celebration. We caught up with the brand’s CEO Albin Johannson and creative director Max Svardh to talk about the year, the rise of sneaker culture, and how they create new styles.
How was the first year for Axel Arigato? What worked, what didn’t?
We’re very satisfied. It feels like people really appreciate both the products and the aesthetics of the brand, which means a lot since everything we put out there is done with the utmost integrity. But we’re only at the beginning of our journey and we are very critical of ourselves. There are still a lot of areas that need improvement. This first year, we had to prioritize due to different reasons and we have really been focusing on our products more than doing everything at once. But starting small has made us really think about what’s most important.
How difficult has it been launching a new sneaker design every week?
It has definitely been a struggle some weeks maintaining the “Drop of the Week.” It demands a lot of creativity to make each new design. And to get all the materials in place, as well as production, is a tough task. We haven’t chosen the easy route, but in the end it worked out and we are proud to say that we have accomplished it every single week. Knock on wood.
Axel Arigato’s creative director Max Svardh, left, and CEO Albin Johansson
Now 30 years after the Jordan line launched, where is sneaker culture headed?
We’ve have witnessed a change in the sneaker culture the last couple of years, where big fashion houses like Gucci and Prada began offering sneakers, even the classic men’s shoe brand Church recently launched their first sneaker. Active wear is booming and it will be interesting to see how the crossover between high-end clothing and casual sportswear will evolve in the future. Our new loafer is an example of the crossover, a classic upper is combined with a sporty rubber sole. This style allows us to reach people whom wearing loafers doesn’t come naturally.
What is your favorite sneaker of all time?
We really like the Adidas Superstar. We salute them for successfully managing to reinvent their classic silhouette season after season and still making it a very current sneaker.
What are some upcoming trends we are going to see from Axel Arigato?
You are going to see more sneakers with double soles and more unique soles. We will also offer different solutions when it comes to the laces. For example, we are releasing a new silhouette without laces this winter and another silhouette were we actually create a pattern on the shoe using the lace. We will also renovate the classic forms and shapes and bring out something fresh and elevated out of them.
What has been your favorite shoe the brand has made to date?
Our cap-toe sneaker (seen up top) has been with us since the launch and it is definitely close to heart. We see everyone from younger guys to men in their 50s buying it, and each manages to pull it off. This is basically one of the core values of Axel Arigato, that if we make an amazing product, it will have its own following.