We believe in community.
As a brand, we are always looking at ways to innovate. In our product, in the service experience we give our customers, in our vision that we seek to share and in our contribution to the local and international community. We are always listening to our customers feedback and like us we know many of you are passionate about transparency of make and supporting independent makers.
Through our 'Wonder Woman' projects and collaborations, we have sort to support local creatives and bring radical energy to the local economy so it made perfect sense to discover the viability of a locally produced project. And so in our continuing brand mission of creativity and collaboration, we made a decision late in 2016 to find a way to make shoes in Melbourne.
Having spent more than15 years in the industry, my experience has always been in off-shore make through China. I had no idea how to get shoes produced locally but I was curious and keen to learn more which is where our journey with the talented team at the Abbotsford based Post Sole Studio workshop began.
Learning that the breadth of materials available in Australia for footwear manufacturing is nowhere near as comprehensive as the markets we source from in Guangzhou, and in a bid to develop something entirely new to the brand, we made the decision to source elements of the componentry ourselves through our close ties with our China maker. I also saw an opportunity to share my experience and knowledge of off-shore manufacturing to help expand opportunities to our local makers and with this in mind we enthusiastically introduced Myra and Breeze from PPS to our China partner in the hope of forging a stronger industry network.
As a result of (this perhaps utopian) vision for amalgamation of industry, the sandals we have manufactured with the team at PSS feature a super radical multiple stripe athletic inspired rubber ‘rand’ that we had sourced on a development trip back in June.
The application of this radical detail (which can be seen at the sole edge of the brightly coloured outsoles PSS had sourced for us in Adelaide) proved to be a challenging endeavour as we would soon discover once the rand arrived in Australia that it had not been ‘gimped’ – clipped in a way that would make it easy to adhere to the outsole board before lasting. Gratefully our dear Wonder Woman manager-of -everything Eddy Carrol, also a highly-regarded Textile Artist and great with a pair of scissors, volunteered to painstakingly hand-cut the 40 odd meters of rand (in each colour!) that was required to complete the production. The team at PSS were also faced with the challenge of using unfamiliar materials, discovering that their usual glues were not marrying well with the rand, resulting in extra work and effort on their side. In addition to the work by PSS there is literally hours of hand cutting and brainwork that has gone into the production of every shoe…!
There were other challenges too – we soon gained a greater understanding of the prohibitive costs to manufacture locally – from labour, to materials, machinery and high running costs (including energy and rent) that means our unit price to produce in Melbourne is more than 4 times the cost of manufacturing a boutique run of product with our partner in China (including the sea freight shipping). While we are excited to engage in local production, we also remain proud of the working conditions and employment opportunities that our brand supports through our manufacturers in China, and feel blessed to have a maker who is as open minded and willing to experiment with small production runs as we are. From a business perspective it’s been an illuminating comparison.
Most importantly the sandals are beautiful. Well made, comfortable and radically wearable. We are so proud of this project and love that our customers seem to be as excited as we are to contribute to the local manufacturing industry. We are looking forward to your response and feedback on this trail program, which if successful will mean we continue to find ways to produce in Australia.
This is Radical Yes!
Kerryn Moscicki, Founder & Brand Director - Radical Yes
Here we go behind the scenes and meet the hands behind the make, Myra and Breeze from Post Sole Studio.
How did the two of you meet? What drove you start an independent footwear factory together?
The opportunity came about a few years ago when Walk On Footwear decided to cease their local manufacturing. Our ex boss offered us the machines and components we needed to continue manufacturing for Kuwaii (who up until that point had been manufacturing their footwear through Walk On) at a decent price and it was an offer too good to refuse! It wasn’t something we had necessarily thought about or were ready to do but it wasn’t something we wanted to pass up.
We love that not only do you run your own label, Post Sole Studio, but that you also manufacture shoes for other local and international brands. Can you tell us a bit about how you came up with the business model?
Manufacturing for other labels was how we started but we always wanted to put our skills into something wholly our own hence the start of our own label P.S.S
Manufacturing shoes by hand in Australia would certainly have its challenges. What sort of hurdles have you come across as you set up the business and how have you overcome them?
Lack of suppliers and choice of materials – working closely with the few local suppliers - bringing a passion for locally made footwear back on shore has sort of re inspired a lot of the people that have been working in the industry their whole lives.
Lack of skilled workers – had to learn to wear many ‘hats’ quickly so we are not reliant on other people’s skills
Can you briefly talk us through the process of your shoe design and production? What aspects do you think might surprise a customer?
The amount of steps involved in each component of the shoe… Each of the below processes usually involves many many ‘mini processes’ multiple steps:
Design – pattern making – pattern grading – patterns into knives – upper and lining cutting – sock and insole cutting – sock and insole construction – stitching – sole making – upper preparation – lasting – roughing – soling – finishing – boxing…
What are three things you always say ‘yes’ to?
Dried figs, whiskey sour and a foot rub!