Founded in 2005, Brothers Josh and Tull Price have made big strides forward in the past few years with their footwear and accessory label FEIT. A cult like following thanks to their hard to find status and short run of each product, whether or not they meant to produce something, dare we say it, exclusive, that’s very much the word on the brand as it continues to gain followers at an impressive rate. Success earned though, FEIT products are simply beautiful. One of many brands playing with the logo-free, stripped-back sneaker formula, their shoes, from the slipper to the wool-lined hiker, are instantly recognisable. That clean, almost (almost) seam-free construction, their trademark – matching upper, sole and laces creating a block of uninterrupted color. Hand-sewn with satisfyingly thick stitches, FEIT footwear is constructed with such care that you’re encouraged, in fact, advised, to wear them barefoot. So, no surprises, we wanted to find out more. Tull Price obliged so we head behind the scenes with an exclusive look at the factory in China, the making of a shoe and a chat with the man himself, all waiting for you after the jump.
Can you tell us a little about your design background?
I’ve never had any formal training. I started a small streetwear label when I was eighteen, which by twenty had evolved into what became Royal Elastics Sneaker Company. The year was 1996. In 2002 I sold the majority of the company. I departed in 2004. During the hiatus that followed I started to teach myself about traditional shoe-making: materials, and constructions, my past knowledge was all sneaker based. So in short, I learnt as I went and I’m still learning.
Where did the initial idea for FEIT come from?
In the mid ‘90s I was excited by, and interested in, the idea of globalization, the possibility that one could create a global brand with a similar tone that could carry to kids in different parts of the world who spoke entirely different languages, but had similar desires and an increasingly similar sense of style. Paris, Tokyo, New York, London…After 10 years of following that path I found myself in a situation where I had to sell my business to a US publicly traded athletic company to keep it alive. My life was taken up by more and more management and less product creation. Generally, I found that globalization (coupled with success in the sneaker industry) was a volume, price, mass production driven business which ultimately ends up with homogenization. FEIT was a reaction, a desire to return to product and to create something special, unique and without compromise.
Was the eco side of production always an important factor for you?
My desire was, and remains, to make a great product with great craftsmen and materials; and to get away from homogenization and chasing growth, the rest just naturally followed.
FEIT products are instantly recognizable, how would you describe the brand’s aesthetic?
The brand’s design aesthetic has evolved naturally. FEIT is driven by pushing construction, heavy research into the best quality biological materials, the choice of craftsmen and the requirements of the end user. Due to the above we usually find ourselves with a clean, rich, minimal aesthetic with an element of craft underpinning it.
Where do you source the materials you use?
Our materials are sourced from the best tanneries and suppliers globally who share our core values. Mostly small family-owned companies (in and around Italy) who are experts in their field and have a passion for what they do.
Where is the collection made and can you talk us through the production process?
We produce most of our products in the Tuscan region of Italy and in a small town in Southern China. All FEIT products are made by hand from start to finish by selected craftsmen. Our footwear is built using hand-sewn methods: hand-sewn stitch-down and FEIT modified good year construction. The process is labor intensive and requires a high level of skill. You can see clips of it on our website.
Do you have any particular favorites from the line?
I love our basic hand-sewn hiker. I have been wearing the same pair barefoot day in, day out, be it Summer or Winter, for the last two years and they just get better with time.
You recently worked with Matthew Miller on Fall/Winter 2014, any plans for future joint projects?
I enjoy the start up phases of brands, through my career I have helped build several footwear companies with a variety of talented people. I was really excited when Matthew approached us as I have felt, and continue to feel, that he’s one of London’s best new designers, mixing tailoring along with technical elements to create a clean and modern aesthetic.
What’s next for FEIT?
No big changes, keep working on fine tuning and improving the products we build for our customers.