VELT – Interview
Founders and designers of the footwear label Velt (Zurich / Berlin).
Hello Stefan Rechsteiner and Patrick Rüegg, how are you?
Hello! We are doing great. Thank you. We just had a very intense but exciting time with both fashion weeks in Berlin and Paris.
Can you introduce yourselves? Tell us more about both of you and the beginning of the label.
First of all, we both come from Zurich and we met up during our studies in product design at university 9 years ago. We became friends and we spent a lot of our free time together since.
Stefan moved to Berlin 8 years ago for work and for his master studies at Potsdam University. We didn’t have much contact during that time, until I (Patrick) moved to Berlin as well 3 years ago. Let’s say that we “met again” in Berlin for the second time. Since we both were already working on shoe projects and also for shoe brands, it was clear that we would come up with the idea to start our own label. The vision of Velt was then born and we officially founded it in 2012.
We had the idea of a men’s shoe label, as we both were unsatisfied with the shoes we could find on the current market. We think that for our generation, sneakers might be too informal sometimes, but classic leather shoes too dressed up. We wanted to create shoes for everyday situation, shoes that you can wear at day but also after work.
In the beginning of 2013, we launched Velt in our hometown Zurich. We then won 3 months later the Swiss Design Award with our first collection. We can say now that we had a good start.
Where does your interest in fashion and shoe design come from?
We both discovered our passion for the footwear design during our studies. Shoes are in between fashion and product design. We love the approach to create a shoe, which is a very product design orientated process, using different materials, soft and hard ones, to put together in a shape. Different techniques and skills are used for the process of creation and for the production.
Everyone wears shoes and we won’t reinvent the purpose of it. However, we are interested in analyzing its characteristic elements and in interpreting them in a contemporary way. There is a lot of innovation going on in the sneakers industry, but not in the classic men’s shoes. We have to be honest; they didn’t change much in the last century. So what we wanted to do is to explore the possibilities of new and contemporary shoe design by using classic materials and manufacturing methods.
Shoes are always connected to fashion. Though, it can only work if all the elements are there at once. Its not only about the shoe, its also about the person wearing them. That is fascinating!
What about style? What influences you the most?
We love so many styles. So many things can be inspiring and they can be found in our daily life. But what we really love, are things that are recognizable as footprint of the time we are living in. It is really important for us to create contemporary shoes. We would love to look back in the future saying: that was very 2013.
Why did you choose to produce your shoes in Switzerland?
The close connection and easy communication that we have with our manufacture is very important for us. Together, we can develop our ideas and get the results that we were looking for. It is not only about getting things produced; it is about developing new ideas and aiming quality. In the manufactory, we have the chance to work directly with the machines to build and verify our prototypes. Its infrastructure offers us the possibilities to produce all prototypes and the collection itself, from a small amount to a bigger amount. Of course, we are proud to have our production here in Switzerland. Making shoes is not so easy, because you need to have a lot of suppliers. That makes it quite complicated, since you are depending on a lot of external resources. Having our manufactory in Switzerland means also having the total control of all that process.
What do you think about the current flow of fashion brands in Switzerland?
There are a lot of young labels trying to stand out and many of them are succeeding. It is good to see that there’s a lot of potential around in Switzerland and that there are the opportunities to present your work. We hope that their potential will also be discovered internationally. We think that to be successful, you also need to go beyond the Swiss borders.
What is the satisfaction to work in Berlin?
Berlin is a great place for inspiration. You have the feeling that the whole world is to be found in this city. And of course, there is a lot going on in the culture scene and you can discover new inspiration every day.
The last word…
Wear it and spread it!
Interview : Dennis Moya & Tiffany Baehler – 02.14