This month has been huge for SoleWood with a feature that has just come out in Footwear News Magazine. To subscribe to Footwear News Magazine, check out www.wwd.com.
Text from the "Man Made" article:
Launch season: Spring ’13
Training: Man graduated from Carnegie Mellon University
in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design. Prior
to his work in footwear, he designed luggage as well as
Mentor: “[Max Debiase from Brain Lab] taught me
everything about the shoe business. He’s taught me how
to be a businessman and not just a designer. I’m constantly
striving to do better and become something even bigger.”
Icons: Twentieth-century American designers Charles and
Ray Eames, who pioneered trends in architecture, furniture
design and photographic arts
Business lesson: “The Golbert family of Pajar, who I [design
for], are a great example of what a business relationship
should be. They treat everyone they do business with like
family, from retailers and salespeople to those in their
showroom. They’re genuine people.”
He’s ready to break out.
After five years of behind-thescenes
work in the footwear industry,
designer Elie Man launched Sole-
Wood, a collection of men’s shoes and
accessories for spring ’13. As the name
implies, each piece has some element
of wood — even the sneakers are trimmed with
100 percent cherry and the seersucker fabric
loafer has a wooden keeper.
The collection has been picked up by independent
shoes stores and boutiques around the
country. Steve Jamison, owner of Blue Sole Shoes
in Philadelphia, carried the new label for the
launch season and will reorder for fall ’13.
“There’s been a good reaction across the
board,” Jamison said. “[My customers] gravitate
toward something new.”
Man’s industrial design background inspired
the launch, said the 29-year-old, who continues
to work full-time as a product manager
for Brain Lab, a design and product development
firm. And while wood may seem
an unlikely material for footwear and
accessories, Man said the challenges of
the medium are worth the extra e.ort.
“I picked wood because I loved building
furniture as a student at Carnegie
Mellon,” he recalled. “I always loved the
old craft feeling of wood and being able
to use [a range of ] textures and species.
There’s something about the warmth of
wood when it’s on a product.” However,
he emphasized, “It has to be treated with
a lot of time. It’s trial and error, prototyping
over and over.”
Man has managed to incorporate
wooden touches in wearable ways. The
penny moc’s keeper, for instance, is a
wood veneer backed in leather for flexibility.
On the flip-flop, wood lines the heel of
the insole and accents the upper. All the wood
pieces used in the line are sustainable and
sourced from countries including China, Malaysia
In addition to footwear, the collection includes
leather wallets with wood panels, ebony and
bamboo wood sunglasses, wood headphones and
wood skins for iPhones. Retail prices range from
$65 for flip-flops to $120 for shoes, with wallets
sold for $43 to $65, and headphones for $140.
According to Man, about 40 percent of the
label’s o.ering is devoted to shoes, with the spring ’13 collection focused on three styles in a
range of colors and materials. “I’m hoping shoes
get to be the biggest part of the business because
that’s my passion,” said Man, who has designed
footwear collections at Brain Lab for brands
including Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess
It was the line’s unique wood
treatments that caught the attention
of Portland, Ore.-based
retail chain UnderU4Men.
“There’s a fashion trend on the
West Coast for things with a
natural feel,” said owner Steven
Lien, who bought SoleWood’s
footwear, wallets and sunglasses.
“The collection complements
our other wood and wood-based
products.” (Lien also o.ers a
selection of men’s underwear in
bamboo and rayon.) According
to the retailer, the sandals are sophisticated
and well priced. “Our
swimsuits are a great match with
the sandals,” said Lien, who plans
to continue to o.er the Sole-
Wood sandals as a year-round look, thanks to the number of his
customers who take cruises.
Brain Lab owner Max Debiase
said the positive reaction to
Man’s line comes as no surprise.
“Elie has a great ability to
combine marketing and product
[skills],” he said. “He’s extremely
up on what’s new in the [footwear]
business. And he’s in tune
with what the current generation
is looking for.”
Moving into fall ’13, Man plans to expand his footwear o.ering with such
looks as a high-top sneaker. “I’ve always thought
[simple styles] were some of the best-selling
shoes. I’m probably going to keep the line more
casual and a.ordable for now,” he said.
While Man sees expansion opportunities down the road, he’s taking it one day at a time. “Everything
I do is funded by my salary,” said the designer,
who works on the collection on evenings
and weekends out of his home studio. “Just to get
to where I am today was a huge challenge. I plan
on doing a lot of things. I have a huge appetite.”
Make sure to stop by the closest newsstand to pick up a copy of XXL Magazine May/June issue entitled 2013 Freshman Class Best Ever. The "Gotta Have It" editorial features SoleWood Bamboo Square Polarized Aviators. This issue also highlights some new up and comers including Trinidad James. SoleWood is honored to have our eco-friendly Bamboo Aviators featured alongside up and comers such as Trinidad James. In the words of Trinidad modified ti fit SoleWood's mantra of All Wood Everything: "Wood all in my shades, Wood all in my watch. Don't believe me just watch...."
Big thanks to the folks at XXL Magazine for featuring SoleWood!!!
Project Las Vegas was an incredible success for SoleWood!!! We wrote orders, caught up with old friends, and most importantly made lots of new friends and connections. We want to thank all the boutiques across the USA, South America, Asia, and Europe that picked up SoleWood products! We also want to thank the good folks at advanstar including Jack Conolly and Jessica Kelly for their outstanding customer service and assistance in getting the SoleWood booth up and running.
I also want to give a huge shoutout to my wife Phyllis and my boys Itay Djerassi, Stefano Gianesella, and Casey Suarez for coming out and repping SoleWood at Project Show. The entire show would not have been such a success without the help of my friends and family.
SoleWood was at lots of Art Basel events at the end of the year in December. We were fortunate to attend a private show featuring Los Angeles band DWNTWN at an Ocean Drive event on Star Island. DWNTWN then had a second show at the Alchemist boutique perched atop the fifth floor of the 1111 Garage on Lincoln Road. Amongst celebrities that showed up for DWNTWN's show was none other than Entourage star Adrian Grenier. I took a couple pics with Adrian for SoleWood's blog! If I had some SoleWood swag on me I surely would have offered Adrian a pair of shades and a wallet. If you're out there Adrian, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can send you some shades, a wallet, and a pair of SoleWood kicks!!!
According to Kwerkee, Design is a dish best served cold. Kwerkee presented an exclusive sale of SoleWood products last week in Singapore, Malaysia, and a few other countries in Asia. We were thrilled to partner with Kwerkee and get SoleWood woodcrafted products repped across the globe!!!ng else ARTY-FARTY. GRIN DAILY.
Fab.com featured SoleWood yet again for a second sale last month. We were thrilled to be featured on Fab yet again, and featured our Supersoft nylon backpacks as a new item in the sale. We hope to do a third sale with Fab later in Spring so stay posted!!!
SoleWood makes the front page of www.Miami.com. Editor Maria Tettamanti features SoleWood as an up and coming brand designed in Miami.
Locavores, lend us your ears:
Allow us to introduce you to designed-in-Miami line, SoleWood. Inspired by a modern style that resonates with the discerning gent, SoleWood was founded by 29-year-old industrial designer Elie Man.
The 411? The SoleWood collection features handcrafted leather sneakers trimmed with wood and art-deco inspired leather wallets with wood panels and seersucker lining so you don’t have to sacrifice storage for style. The stitching, pantones, and patterns on each product have all been meticulously thought out. The headphones have a modern yet sustainable and environmentally friendly aesthetic and Man says, “The warm natural acoustic sound of wood headphones is unlike any you've experienced before."
The wood squad at SoleWood also created fresh ebony and bamboo wood sunglasses, snapbacks, backpacks and wood skins for iPhone, iPad, and Macbook.
Jump here to the link:
SoleWood donates product to South Beach Tiki Bar's event, Mustacheo Basheo to help raise funds for Movember.com. Movember raises vital awareness and funds for men's health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives. Come by South Beach Tiki Bar tonight between 8-12. 1505 Washington Ave in South Beach. For more info about the event: http://southbeachtikibar.blogspot.com/