Josh Price believes that the most enduring sense of style takes a slow evolution. The retailer, who co-owns cult shoe label FEIT with his brother Tull, says that to achieve longevity in the fashion world, you can’t be afraid to change. “We’re always learning new things, developing and changing,” says Price. “It’s a process for every business if it wants to survive.”
Price is speaking from the brand’s Sydney outpost in Darlinghurst, a flawless space that’s less shoe store than gallery – if you ignored the telltale hip-hop emanating from the speakers. Then again, FEIT has been turning this high-meets-low sensibility into an art form for 13 years, originally only putting shoes into production when they had sold a certain number.
“My brother’s been making shoes a long time and he became disillusioned with his previous company and took some time off back in 2005,” explains Price. “He learnt proper shoemaking, started this business and needed inexpensive help so I joined him. FEIT is his baby – that’s where he felt he had the most freedom.”
That previous company was Royal Elastics, a sneaker brand that became synonymous with 90s street style and East London excess. “Most of all, he was blown away by the amount of waste that existed in that industry,” Price explains. “Once the company got quite large, it was driven by the bottom line. It was all about producing stuff and not really paying attention to the impact they were having.”
It’s a world away from FEIT’s current philosophy, which sees the label work with shoemakers around the world to create hand-stitched brogues, cognac leather loafers and artfully constructed high-tops, ruled by quality, not quantity. “All the materials we use are products of cattle farming and we make everything by hand. We work with various tanneries and craftspeople in Italy and China, people who are the best at what they do. A lot of people think that leather is bad for the environment, but synthetics are a lot worse.”
Although the Price brothers shared a passion for sneakers when they were growing up, these days Tull (who’s based in New York and is also the president of Rag and Bone footwear) oversees the design process. “Tull has a really clean, minimal design aesthetic with a touch of street – sort of street meets the fashion,” he says. “He likes clean lines and simple, minimalist stuff. He’s got a much keener eye and natural ability, although he was never trained.”
The Price brothers also extend their meticulous approach to shoemaking to their collaborations, partnering with the likes of high-end fashion emporium Dover Street Market. They’ve also just launched a women’s range, comprising sleek, tapered versions of signature styles. “We’ve always wanted to branch into women’s footwear,” admits Price. “It’s hard when you’re doubling your production, but we feel that in terms of women’s fashion, the market’s ready for this kind of product. We’re excited to see how people we react.”
Read more about Tull Price, the other half of FEIT here.