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Friday, February 8, 2013

Fane Levy On Building An Australian Shoe Brand

 Fane, how old are you and how much does your age group determine the colour palette and designs you choose for your shoes? 

I’m 26 years old. I would say my age definitely affects my choice of colour palette to me. I like to be more bold and outgoing with some of the bright blues, greens and oranges. However, my business ethic takes this into account ensuring more subtle and conservative colours for the older age groups. My range covers all colours from the plain black, brown and navy blues, through tans, mustard, royal blue to the extreme spectrum of bright green, orange, lilac. I feel it is important to cater for the entire market to keep up with the changing trends and perception of style. 5 Years ago I would have never worn a green shoe, today its been one of our hottest sellers. 
With regards to my designs, I have a simple theory -  I keep to a minimum range of styles, but alter the design and feel of the shoes through colour. I believe colour is the most essential part to any item. Without colour you are left with blank canvas, a silhouette. 

Tell us about the construction of a car shoe – what are the basic elements and how are they put together? What kind of rubber are you looking for, fabrication methodology, qualities of suede etc?

1. The Upper material is prepared. This is checked to be free of wrinkles.
2. The toe box and counter is attached. The cement is applied evenly to the backside the toe and heel area, not to overflow. The toe and heal bottom is stitched to fix toe box to the counter. 
3. Upper material conditioning. Proper temperatures are set and steam gas or water spray is used to soften the leather to facilitate its form without damage.
4. Toe/board lasting process. The insole board is fixed by cement and/or steel pin. The upper heel is moulded followed by the toe moulding.
5. Heat Setting. This uses a heated chamber to set the upper shape of the shoe
6. Outter sole. The rubber sole is laid flat with cement applied. The sole is laid from the toe to heel and lateral to medial. This is rolled onto the base of the shoe and stitched in. A chloridize primer is used for all rubber soles. This is followed by a pressing gage to ensure bonding strength is achieved.
7. Quality control and cross checks are applied to ensure it passes.
We use a mid-high strength rubber to ensure longevitiy, however we don’t want it to be too hard or brittle to allow for sponge and absorption under the foot.
We review and approve all materials including leathers and suedes to ensure the quality matches our standards.

You have now branched out from just car shoes, can you tell us a little about your new products and where you think the market is heading for men’s shoes?

I launched my Boater Range in October 2012. These are a range of waterproof boat shoes. They have a spongy rubber sole for comfort and the upper material is a nylon/canvas mesh which allows the feet to breathe, eliminating sweat. They can be worn without socks, won't stain if drinks or food is spilt onto them and most importantly can be thrown in the washing machine. This range has proven to be most popular over the summer period. 
Our new line of loafers will hit our shores at the end of February 2013. These consist of nubuck leather loafers in a range of colours and styles. The inner sole has been engineered for comfort and breatheability. These have been mastered and improved from our initial batch last year.
We are in the production phase of our loafer slippers. These will include both suede and velvet slippers. This is a niche market but I feel if we produce conservative styles and colours, there is a large enough demand to satisfy the supply.
We are in the production phase of our brogue. These will consist of suede brogue shoes with a hint of colour and point of difference. Stay tuned for the launch of these
We are finalising our smart shoe range or leather both lace up and slip-on shoes. These will be fit for work, casual, night life and smart events.

Living in Sydney, do you see a big separation from harbour culture versus beach culture?

There is the happy medium where my range crosses over, however it’s safe to say the beach culture is more laid back and casual whereas the harbour culture looks towards more style, sophistication and the “image” side of style. I try ensure that my range caters to both, which to date it has.

Tell us about your most prized look for a pair of car shoes – are we talking summer shorts, the beach, a collared t-shirt or something else?

Pair of beige chino’s slightly rolled up
White shirt with buttons open midway, sleeves rolled up and messy
Black/tortoise shell wayfarer type sunglasses
Corona in hand
Big-faced watch on wrist
Pair of FANE’s on feet – a bright colour to make a statement – bright blue preferred!

When would a man swap a car shoe for a velvet slipper?

When entering FANE Footwear store in the next few months. We’ll have our new range of car shoe’s and velvet loafer slippers on hand. I wouldn’t imagine a swap, but rather and add on to the collection.

Before you started making shoes, you must have bought other brands. Can you tell us the top 5 pairs of shoes you have owned in the last 5 years?

You had to ask the question!
Louis Vuitton
Dolce Gabanna
What I’ve learnt from wearing all these brands plus more has been applied to FANE Footwear to ensure the perfect shoe in terms of comfort, style, quality and longevity. One wouldn’t imagine how many factors there are that contribute to a good shoe. And, ours are extremely well priced.

What is one thing you haven’t been able to purchase in the last 12 months which you wished you had the money to buy.

A new car, but this is on the horizon for this year!

See Fane's collection here:

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