The good folks over at SoleWood are making some pretty impressive wood-crafted and art-deco-inspired swag designed in Miami. SoleWood was recently featured in XXL Magazine's 2013 Freshman Class: Best Ever, with an editorial entitled "Gotta Have It" featuring SoleWood Bamboo Square Polarized Aviators. Footwear News Magazine featured SoleWood footwear and a bio of Elie Man in a 2-page article profiling SoleWood as "One to Watch." The SoleWood Standard Bi-Fold Wallet was recently featured in an AskMen.com editorial entitled 10 Things We Want This Week. But it's not just wallets — they've got a line of fresh sneakers trimmed with wood, stylish ebony and bamboo wood sunglasses, walnut and bamboo wood headphones, snapback hats, backpacks trimmed with wood, & wood skins for apple iPhone, iPad, and Macbook.
In an industry where venturing off the standard trade routes in Los Angeles and New York is regarded as sailing off the edge of the world, Man has turned his upstart Miami based company SoleWood into a nationally recognized wood brand with edgy and affordable product design at the forefront of the company’s brand image. SoleWood is designed in Miami, USA in Man’s studio in South Beach, and utilizes Man’s global resources in manufacturing and industrial design to bring SoleWood products to market.
SoleWood Designer Profile:
SoleWood was founded by industrial designer Elie Man. Man, a South Florida native, began his career in 2004 after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Industrial Design. Man has worked at the highest levels of design as a footwear line-builder and brand manager, designing shoes for world renowned brands such as Armani, Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, Pajar, Freddy, True Religion Brand Jeans, and Ben Sherman. This summer, the SoleWood collection is launching with a creative lineup of products including footwear, eyewear, headphones, wallets, iPhone and iPad accessories, backpacks, and apparel.
Man’s vision for SoleWood as a lifestyle industrial design brand encompasses more thancool gear made with wood. It’s a reminder of fun times spent with our friends and loved ones, doing the stuff we like doing most. Wood is all around us, its makeup is found in the stuff we use every day. “My passion for product design and my love of wood were the perfect natural recipe for the creation of Solewood,” says Man.
SoleWood’s Art Deco inspired wallets feature seersucker lining, and a pear wood panel that doubles as an extra pocket. “The products are crafted with an artisan approach, and they are all about uncompromised quality,” says Man. The stitching, pantones, and patterns on each product have all been meticulously thought out and seamlessly relate to one another. The headphones have a modern yet sustainable and environmentally friendly aesthetic, “the warm natural acoustic sound of wood headphones is unlike any you've experienced before,” says Man. SoleWood headphones are crafted sustainably with Bamboo, the world’s fastest growing species.
SoleWood footwear features wood as both an aesthetic and practical feature, with a wood keeper on the vamp of a sneaker-loafer hybrid, and pops of wood in species variants of zebra, ebony, and walnut wood. Every detail in each shoe pattern has been hand stitched by master craftsmen. The process of creating a footwear collection begins with only a concept, and then there are the hand sketches followed by computer aided design renderings, blueprints, steel-cut tools for outsole molds, and an endless pursuit of the perfect silhouette in the shoe’s pattern and shape called the last. When the prototype is perfected, the materials are all hand-selected for their vibrant colors with premium tanned leather hides. “This has been my life’s dream to build my own brand, and I have worked tirelessly to create this collection. Some days the work never ends, and I am forever thankful for my wife and her continued encouragement and involvement,” says Man.
It takes more than just the creator to show an undying passion and appreciation for the product. “People can pat you on the back, and tell you what a great job you’ve done with your collection,” says Man. But the proof is in the pudding, and there is a buzz about SoleWood that is truly exciting as the brand begins to grow. “There are so many avenues this brand can take, and it is so exciting to have the support of my friends, family, and colleagues,” says Man.
For 29 year old entrepreneur Elie Man, his passion for design was found at an early age. Before turning 6, Elie was already sculpting and painting in evening art classes with his dad. Man says, “My parents have an appreciation for art and design that impacted my design sensibility on a tremendous scale. In 1999 before graduating highschool, Man already chose his path as an industrial designer.
Man takes inspiration from American design icons Charles and Ray Eames, who created a visionary concept of modern design as an agent of social change from the 1940s into the 1970s. Their wholehearted belief that design could improve the lives of Americans and people around the world remains their greatest legacy. “If I can make a few more people smile every day, and enjoy the products I’ve created then I will complete my goal,” says Man.
Today, SoleWood has found its place in the lifestyle industrial design market as a brand driven by Man's passion for product design and appreciation of beautifully handcrafted wood products. Phyllis Man, an industry recognized producer and wife to Elie, has also found a role as Vice President at SoleWood.
Concentrating on a market niche of smart and sustainably designed products with a bit of an edge for the fashion forward consumer, Man has built SoleWood into what he hopes will become another household brand in America.
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