2015 was the birth year of another sneaker story that’s definitely worth mentioning: They New York founded by Angela Lin and her brother Jack. The founders, sharing 30 years of family expertise in the Japanese footwear industry, started the idea of THEY New York when they noticed the abundance of white sneakers on every corner. “We wanted to create a sneaker that offers both the simplicity of the white sneaker and yet has an accentuated highlight that sets it apart,” explains Angela Lin. According to this idea, the founders create sneakers in minimalistic aesthetics with love for detail and high quality craftsmanship. Here, Angela Lin discussed details of the concept of THEY New York and what distinguishes the label from other brands.
You are influenced by your family history and expertise in the Japanese footwear industry. What fascinates you today about creating shoes?
What we find fascinating about creating shoes today is perhaps the separation of the manufacturing of different shoe parts. Because every part of the shoe is made individually, many manufacturers today would outsource at different factories that only make one part and then bring it together to assemble. What makes THEY different is our unique design, our upper (top half of the shoe) must be crafted along with the sole in order for the design to appear seamless. Therefore, this calls for our craftsmen to work together in the same environment in order to perfect the presentation. We're bringing together parts of the footwear industry that is traditionally separated.
What did you feel when you had your first own created pair of shoes in your hands?
It felt surreal to see the first pair of shoes in real life. It was once just an idea, then it became a sketch, and now it actually exists as a product.
Your goal is to present a new alternative in lifestyle footwear with original designs and a fresh look. What exactly does this mean?
Our sneakers can be worn casual or formal, depending on how you style it really. I think this is what we mean by an alternative lifestyle footwear, where it can be worn at any occasion by both genders and still look effortlessly chic and stylish.
What distinguished the label from other big players in the world? What makes your shoes so special?
By deciding that we wanted to create a seamless geometric shape infused into the shoe, we knew the construction of the sneaker would require an unconventional method. Traditionally, the upper and the sole can be crafted separately and then combined afterwards. But for our sneakers, the sole and the upper must be stitched together first, then a part of the sole has to be hand carved out and replaced with another strip of high-density rubber in the color of the design. This process is extremely painstaking and can only be achieved manually to guarantee a seamless shape.
What material do you work with and where is the production?
After launching our concept, we set out to search for small manufacturers and dress shoe workshops in both Europe and Asia. But with our intricate construction process and small initial orders, only a few agreed to produce them. We finally found a small workshop in Fujian, China where they shared our passion for great details and believed in our vision. All our leather and materials are eco-friendly and sourced from the highest-quality suppliers globally.
What is the price-range and where are the shoes sold?
Our retail price for pre-orders right now is $349 sold exclusively online on our website.
Which plans do you have in terms of expansion?
We are actively reaching out to quality stockists that share our aesthetics and hope to be available in selected boutiques and stores globally.