After ten years of tests, trials and errors, Danish footwear brand Ecco has just launched a new line of shoes and bags made with indigo-dyed leathers. The brand is also extremely focused on offering a wider selection of ultralight, comfy and sustainable shoes. Mark Rödel, head of styling in Ecco Shoes’ Design Studio, explains how Ecco achieves such innovative products.
Ecco has launched new leather footwear and bags that look as if they were made with denim. Why?
EccoLeather is a dynamic tannery where we work with some of the best designers, creators and developers from all around the world. We invite some of the top creators to our Open Circle Lab, our own physical development facility located in the Netherlands, that drives us in developing always different leather innovation steps. Thanks to it we have often developed some great collaborations and great innovative end products, like in this case, the indigo leather. It was not an easy process creating a leather like the indigo collection, and it nearly took us a decade before we found the way of producing indigo-colored leathers. We are very happy with the final result that also meets a big market trend.
Are Ecco’s shoes and bags only made with leathers tanned by your own companies/laboratories?
At Ecco we are very proud of owning the entire value chain. From production to retail. From rawhides to final shoes. This also enables us to produce the majority of leathers that we are using; Ecco Leather produces approximately 97% of the leathers that we use in our shoes. The final 3% is suede or patent leathers, which change from season to season as they are very connected to seasonal trends.
Is the company also investigating any new leather tannings focused on sustainable treatments?
We are and we will always challenge our production methods. At Ecco shoes and Ecco Leather we have always been innovative thinkers. We were founded by Karl Toosbuy, a pioneer who always wanted to challenge our production methods. And as we own the entire value chain, we are also able to look into new developments from the beginning of the process to the end. We also have a commitment to the environment, water usage, sustainability and chemicals. We can proudly say that all of our tanneries have been gold rated by the independent audit by the Leather Working Group (LWG), who amongst others are promoting sustainable environmental practices.
What new products or directions are you focused on?
We are soon launching our new Ecco Crepretray shoe group for men and for women–new, ultra lightweight casual shoes expressing Ecco’s futuristic, innovative take on the classic crepe sole, achieved through direct injection technology, and through which we have created a transformed new original in the shoemaker’s range of dynamic comfort platforms. As well as being lighter than conventional crepe rubber, with its hollowed out “bed” of PU, the new sole no longer has some of the difficulties associated with crepe rubber, such as stickiness in the heat and stiffness in the cold.
On the men’s side we are also using a new leather development that in warmer temperatures reveals its futuristic side, with the uppers changing colors thanks to the ultra-modern color shifting technology in the Ecco Kromataforò Leather. The rich leather lining, which will stay the same color in all temperatures, adds a luxurious feel to the Ecco Crepetray, as well as creating the ideal inner climate for your foot. To increase the air circulation, the shoe has a removable, leather-covered inlay sole with the Ecco Comfort Fibre System.
Are you aiming to reach a younger clientele? What new strategies will you focus on in the future?
We do not sell shoes to a specific age group. Style is not related to age but is individual. At Ecco we are on a journey, a journey where we are focusing on building our brand across the world. We want people to know that we sell comfortable shoes, with state-of-the-art leathers built on a dynamic innovative platform. We are among the frontrunners in developing new ways of making shoes, and we want people to know that. We want them to know that we are continuously challenging the way we design and produce our shoes. We want them to know that Ecco Shoes offers shoes for every wearing moment, every occasion, while you feel and look good. We call it Perpetual Natural Motion.