Every man should expect to shell out some cash for a classic pair of wingtips. What new designer/manufacturer/e-commerce site Beckett Simonon doesn't want you to pay for is advertising, middlemen, and brick-and-mortar stores. Call it the Warby Parker model—but for your feet.
For $79, you can pick up a pair of chukka boots, derby shoes, wingtips, or longwing brogues with free shipping. To learn exactly how Beckett Simonon can do this, you have to go back three years when Nicholas Hurtado and Andres Niño, both 26-years-old, started a leather accessories company called Hasso in Colombia's stylish capital of Bogotá. They soon decided they wanted to make classic men's shoes. The problem? Stores were urging them to use less expensive materials and manufacturing methods.
"We had great responses from buyers," says Hurtado. "They liked the style and quality, but once you added the extra layers of costs, the final price was too high for them. We decided that if we removed some of those layers in the retail chain we could sell the same high-quality shoes at attractive prices."
So the pair started Beckett Simonon to avoid conflicts with distributors. Everything is designed in-house in Bogota, constructed with local Colombian leather and shipped directly to you. You save some pocket money thanks to the shortened supply chain and the company's refusal to spend on marketing. Both Hurtado and Niño claim that one thing they aren't cutting out is good labor relations.
"Most of our suppliers are family-owned and -operated companies," says Hurtado. "That's our way of giving back, working with factories that pay a fair wage with benefits." Even without ads, Beckett Simonon has already sold out of its first run of shoes. While the selection is a little limited right now, the brand plans to release one new style a month and construct pop-up shops in several U.S. cities so consumers can feel the goods for themselves before ordering them via an in-store computer.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering where the name comes from, it's an homage to a pair of great thinkers (and dressers): writer Samuel Beckett and The Clash's Paul Simonon. "We are proposing something that's different from what you would traditionally find on the market," says Hurtado. "We wanted to show our rebellious spirit." Finally, a company that believes even starving artists deserve nice footwear.
—Keith Wagstaff is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn. Follow him @kwagstaff.