You guys. By now, you know that I have an obsession with Hammitt – not only for their incredible handbags, but for their company as well. Their leather bags are highly-functional, stylish accessories that make any woman’s daily life way cuter and much more organized.
As for the company? Well, suffice it to say, you won’t find a more fun or creative group of people. Their CEO (and still Chief Cheerleader, don’t forget), Tony Drockton, is always one of my favorite people to interview. He has taken this company into a whole new stratosphere of success, and made sure to have a blast while doing so.
Now, this leather goods maverick has decided to bring another soon-to-be-cult-favorite to the company: shoes. This initial launch of shoes was designed by legendary footwear designer Brent James, and showcases three sandal styles – the Jesse, Winston and Max.
Here’s more about this highly-anticipated launch, and the men behind the names.
Marie Tabela: In our last interview, you said you’d be launching a footwear line. I am so excited that now is the time! Tell me about your dive into shoes.
Tony Drockton: We’ve slowly been curating the handbags over the years, and they’ve grown steadily at a nice, full-priced pace. Small leather goods were next with functional wallets, ID holders, credit card holders, all of that, and that’s taken off very well. So footwear was the perfect addition for our fans.
We are a leather-based accessories line, so leather footwear was perfect. We really thought about how to do it, and this first collection of footwear carries forward the DNA that we’ve built into every Hammitt. They have the beautiful leather, the raw edges, and the signature rivet detail. The functionality of the handbags as well as the comfort of wearing them is also carried into the shoes.
This first collection is made up of a beautiful flip flop, a small gladiator, and a slip on. They’re sandals, and everybody needs one or more good pair of sandals that they can be proud of and wear to an art gallery opening, or for a simple walk down the strand.
MT: What was most important to you in designing this collection?
TD: In designing this first collection, we made sure that quality and comfort were of the utmost importance. We really took our time. We went six months back and forth tweaking them just to make sure that when a person put their foot into them, it was instant love from the comfort, instant love from the aesthetic when they looked in the mirror, and that over time, it’d be instant love from the quality and wear.
We’re standing behind our footwear the same way we stand behind our bags. We want people to love them and use them every day and be happy with them. If they ever have any questions or issues, just like with our bags, we take care of them.
MT: How are you doing the launch? Will they be everywhere?
TD: It’s a very limited, select distribution. We chose 30 of the doors that we’re carried in right now out of the over 350, and we took our top specialty doors – one in each area from around the country – and then we are also opening this first collection in 10 of our best Von Maur doors. Von Maur has been a great partner in the Midwest for our handbags for two years. We’re one of their top-selling handbag brands, and we hope to build that same relationship with them with our footwear.
MT: Tell me about the men behind the names of the shoes. Who are Max, Jesse and Winston?
TD: Well, we decided a long time ago that each bag would carry the energy of the leading men in our lives, so every time we’ve designed a new handbag silhouette, we’ve associated them with a man who is really special to us. The Daniel bag is my brother and the Paul is my father. So with men’s names on bags, we decided with the footwear that since we are such a dog-friendly office and we really love animals –
MT: I know what you’re about to say and I love it so much.
TD: (laughing) We decided to bring in the names of our pets for our footwear. Winston is our Creative Director Devin’s dog. Jesse and Max are also dogs from our current staff. We say, “You keep your man on your arm and your dogs at your feet at Hammitt!”
MT: That is so cute. I love that you guys are a dog-friendly office.
TD: We have a lot of fun here! It’s pretty great!
MT: Are you going to continue to name the footwear after dogs?
TD: Oh, yes! They will alway continue to be named after the pets in our lives. Our animals are part of the family now! Our handbags and our footwear become such a big part of our core fans lives, they wear our bags every single day, and we want them to wear our footwear every day. Just like the pets and men in their lives, we want to be around every day. We don’t want to be put on a shelf and pulled out only for special occasions.
MT: Well, you are on a shelf in my closet because I’ve managed to collect so many of your bags at this point, that I’m rotating them out every other day.
TD: (laughing) Well, we’re okay with that! We can be on a shelf when you’re going from one Hammitt to another. We just don’t want to be on a shelf while you’re rocking some other brand.
MT: Who designed the Hammitt footwear?
TD: Brent James. He’s a very famous footwear designer consultant. He’s launched Sanuk sandals, Reef sandals, Guess footwear, and we could keep going and going. He’s kind of a legend. He’s also been a good friend and mentor for many years prior to this. It’s nice to have someone who is years ahead of me in experience to lean on. (Check out more about the talented Brent James at www.concept-21.com.)
MT: What else do you want to make sure people know about the new footwear line?
TD: This is a small run production, very limited in both distribution and number of pairs, so we apologize if they are already sold out by the time they read this or go look at them, but our second collection will be following up early next year. By fall of 2017, we’ll have booties, ballerina flats and others in the collection.
We hope, and are pretty positive, that this initial sandal collection is going to become a core product for Hammitt. It will be not only how people remember our initial launch, but what we’re all about, which is the California, West Coast lifestyle, day to night, casual to dressy. We are a handbag company that you can wear all the time because it’s casual enough, but also dressy enough for every occasion, and these sandals are the same way.