Now, I do love a good pair of well -made shoes…you know, the ones that seem to get better with time. So, this blog post is all about a shoe brand that truly has craftsmanship at the heart of the brand…this brand is called Zonkey Boot.
Zonkey Boot was founded in January 2010 by the shoe designer Michael Rollig and his life partner, former journalist Alexandra Diaconu in Austria. Michael has over 27 years of experience as a shoe designer, from which 15 years he dedicated to making shoes entirely by hand as the founder of Saint Crispin’s. They met two and a half years ago when Alexandra did a story about Michael for Forbes Romania, where Alexandra was working as Editor at the time. Shortly after that, they became a couple and began thinking of projects to undertake, and subsequently Zonkey Boot was born. The aim of the brand was to create a range of high-end shoes dedicated to men who appreciate craftsmanship, thoughtful technical features and design that show the intended purpose of use.
So, although the brand is Austrian the shoes themselves are made in a Northern Italian shoe factory called Walles Calzaturificio in Rossano Veneto which is run by the Giacometti brothers, who Michael and Alexandra had met only a few months prior to Zonkey Boot’s inception. Walles also produces high-end shoes for mainstream fashion brands but also keeps alive crafting techniques and makes high quality shoes like Norwegian hand-stitched, hand-welted shoes or moccasins sewn by hand. The Zonkey Boot range consists of many different types of shoes from Hand-welted shoes and boots, classics, Traveller, Leisure shoes and hand-sewn moccasins.
The brand works with only a handful of tanneries from Italy, Germany and the UK which specialise in certain materials. They use calf suede’s and vegetable-tanned full grain calf leathers which are stained by hand. Other fabrics that are used include nubuck, alligator leather, canvas and tweed. An interesting fact that Alexandra told me was that Michael had searched for years and years for good leather laces that don’t break… (I’m sure we can all appreciate how annoying that is) and that he finally developed ones which are round, smooth, thin (2.3mm) and most importantly DON’T BREAK!
Now for the design part of the shoes, I wanted to get an understanding of what thoughts and processes go into designing the shoes, so, below Michael details the design process for Zonkey Boot shoes.
“Since early childhood I feel punished by a strong sense of what is right or wrong in matters of clothing and other desired objects. I couldn’t bear wearing ‘wrong’ things myself, but I never cared about other people wearing or having ‘wrong’ things. Having worked for many years in this field I don’t distinguish so much anymore between right or wrong, but I still have a strong animosity against things which are not the ‘real’ thing. I am aware that clothing is a means of social distinction, though nobody talks about taste in fashion anymore. I am unable to constitute a shoe as tasteful or tasteless, so I stick with right or wrong and real and not real. Somehow my shoes always turn out to be reduced to the minimum of decoration and the maximum of shape or form. During the developing process I mostly take away details rather than adding something and getting the proportions right often takes several attempts. I am not a man of quick decisions. I find it hard to put together a collection from single shoe models and this is where Alexandra has her most important part in the process. She can spend hours and days going through colour swatches, finding combinations of materials and soles, which make the model outstanding. She knows in advance what is going to look good, whereas I would have to try it out first. I think skills, tools and materials – she thinks styles, collection and brand.” (Michael Rollig)
I absolutely love the shoes that are on offer for SS12 at Zonkey Boot, there are so many great styles and distinctions which can be seen via the shapes (including the toe), fabric choices and what I really like is the brands use of colour and how some shoes can be all one colour, other’s fade into lighter/darker hues (see the brown boots) and others are vibrant in colour (blue moccasins). Now, I wouldn’t finish this post without telling you my favourite shoe…and it’s a tossup between the brown boot or the bright blue moccasins…but as a gentleman that likes his shoes as smart as possible I would probably have to go with the boots, they are just sublime!
Zonkey Boot is currently unavailable in the UK market, but due to a high demand as of December 2011 an online transactional website is now available at: www.zonkeyboot.com
I would like to thank Alexandra and Michael for their time as I know you have had a rather busy start to the year, I wish this new brand the best of luck for the future, but as I’m sure you will agree, with this kind of offering on show…I think little luck is needed!