Montreal designers create shoe inspired by the city, Olympic Stadium
MONTREAL -- In a time where many companies may be tightening their belts because of the COVID-19 pandemic, one Montreal-based shoe brand is looking to shake things up.
Strange Brand MTL is an up-and-coming label that draws inspiration from landmarks around the city for its designs.
Its mission, according to founder Joshua Recinos, is to outfit a "premium sneaker," built for durability and comfort.
The company's first shoe, aptly named the PIE IX, was designed to emulate one of the most iconic monuments in Montreal.
"I told them [the team]...when I say, 'Montreal,' what's a name, quick, that pops up in your mind? The Olympic Stadium was right there, first," Recinos tells CTV News. "If you see this sneaker on the side profile, it has a silhouette of the Olympic Stadium... I tried to keep the curves that the whole stadium has on the shoe."
The business grew out of the founders' dejection of seeing poorly made sneakers from large marks, quickly thrown out by consumers as a result of cheap, fast fashion.
"We thought about where do we want to bring the company? What are our values that bring us together?" Recinos asks. "That's the thing that really mattered to us, bringing quality, durability and sustainability, especially these days where we, as consumers, don't really think about the objects we wear."
Recinos notes he doesn't believe in the trend of using repurposed materials, like old water bottles, to create new products.
"I know a lot of companies right now like, 'Oh, we're using a new material made of plastic bottles,'" he said. "Great, how long is it going to last? Alright, its lifetime is two years, then it's in the landfills? Where are you going to do about it after that?"
Recinos, who founded Strange Brand MTL after being laid off from Aldo in 2017, points out shoes need to be comfortable if we're going to wear them every day -- and that means they need to last.
"Even if your sole gets beaten up, you can just bring it to the cobbler and they can resole it again," he said of his product, adding he hopes to get in touch with other small businesses in the city that could help offer this service.
The sneakers are designed in Montreal, but manufactured in Portugal in order to keep costs low without compromising on labour conditions for workers.
"They're one of the best shoe makers right now," he states. "If I could have done it here [in Montreal], I would have chosen here, but there's also the price that goes along with it and that was part of the decision."
Recinos explains the sneakers are made from vegetable-tanned leather, an environmentally safe option to its more common, chemical alternative. The outsoles are made from 70 per cent recycled rubber.
The company is currently crowdfunding, hoping to raise $65,000 to officially launch the brand, as well as pay for different expenses.
"If it [the crowdfunding] doesn't work out, we're still going to try to see other ways to finance our project," he said. "It's a project that we put a lot of energy into and I don't want to see it just crumble. For one, crowdfunding... It might not work. It's all right. Let's keep the momentum going."
The Montreal native adds the brand hopes to launch its second shoe, inspired by the new Samuel de Champlain Bridge, next summer.
The partners, made up of Recinos, Vanessa St-Pierre, Victor Mancini, Alain Laverdure and Viviane Lee-Laflèche, have over 20 years of combined experience in the footwear industry, with some members having worked for big names like Reebok and Aldo.