After closing $1.2 million in funding, start-up Oliver Cabell, a transparent accessories label, has entered the premium footwear space with two silhouettes: the Low 1 and Rennes Trainer.
Based in Minneapolis and founded by CEO Scott Gabrielson in July of 2016, Oliver Cabell produces all of its premium accessories in the Marche region of Italy — a mecca for luxury shoes.
“We came across a set of old, dusty sneaker molds in our factory, and I thought it was a real treasure, and that we could make something really unique with them,” said Gabrielson in a statement. “We decided to make a pair with the molds, and after 22 samples we ended up with our first sneaker, the Low 1. We became so obsessed with footwear that we decided to focus on them almost exclusively going forward.”
According to the brand, after trekking across Europe researching suppliers and interviewing the best factories in Europe for a year, the brand settled on a footwear making process — the original process.
“To offer handcrafted sneakers using old school shoemaking and the finest materials, and then reveal it all, from factories to costs,” explained Gabrielson in a statement. “For us, it’s all about the process. Ninety percent of our shoes are made with cobblers using simple tools. We then marry it with the latest technology.”
To arrive at sub-$200, premium, old-school footwear, the materials have to be special. Thus, Oliver Cabell’s footwear is hand crafted using full grain leather from the Veneto region of Italy and sourced from the same tannery that supplies Prada and Saint Laurent. The outsoles come from Margom and Dami, a historic Italian supplier. According to Gabrielson, the business model is finding companies that focus on making one thing really well and partnering with them long term.
“When it came to laces, we were searching for the best laces around. Even though we were close to the industry and know where to find laces, nothing fit what we were looking for,” said Gabrielson. “We wanted to use high quality, waxed cotton laces. Unfortunately, there are just so many crappy laces everywhere. In the end, we found an old factory who still made them. They have been producing those laces for 115 years, so of course we had to use them.”
Oliver Cabell is launching two footwear models to start: a classic style, the Low 1 ($178), and a classic runner, the Rennes Trainer ($188). Both are available in now in several colorways at OliverCabell.com and each comes with a branded box, a cotton dust bag, and a set of shoe trees.
For full transparency, the brand has noted exactly how many costs go into each pair of its sneakers. The Rennes Trainer, an athletic retro-running style, uses a 3 oz. full grain calfskin leather upper from Veneto, Italy, a Dami rubber outsole, Italian calfskin removable molded insoles, a Spanish cowhide leather inner lining, Italian waxed cotton laces, and constructed by hand and lasted in Albacete, Spain.
According to Oliver Cabell, costs for the Rennes amount to $92: leather: $7.61, lining: $3.12, outsoles: $4.80, insoles: $1.80, cutting/manufacturing/quality control: $40.70, packaging: $3.96, transit: $12.43, duties: $5.36, shipping: $11.50. Thus, as with nearly all products, the retail price is double the costs that go into the product.
And the brand has more coming; it will implement a “drop of the week” in an effort to release new styles in small batches weekly. While common coming from big brands like Nike and adidas, this approach is rarely seen with a startup barely a year old due to the manpower needed to design, test, refine, and produce a new style.
“It demands a lot of creativity and work to design and get all the materials and production in place, but it’s worth it,” explained Gabrielson. “Producing styles in limited quantities allows us to release more unique product and be more creative with silhouettes and materials. It doesn’t excite me to say our shoes are exclusive, it’s just the reality of our situation.”
Share what you think about Oliver Cabell in the comments below. Would you be inclined to purchase premium goods if you knew exactly what went into the products?
Source: Oliver Cabell