Ben Gorham Talks about Byredo’s New Sneaker

For Byredo‘s latest summer presentation, the Swedish fragrance-turned-fashion label opted for a non-tradition show format and instead staged a fake NBA draft in a basketball court. Also in tune with this athletic theme, the designer premiered a new leather sneaker inspired by vintage basketball footwear from over 100 years ago. Crafted with leftover leather from the label’s past collections, there’s a nostalgic quality to the shoes that’s also very fitting with the current sustainability wave that’s infiltrating the industry as a whole. We caught up with brand founder Ben Gorham to learn a little more about the shoe’s design and what makes a perfect sneaker.


byredo summer 2020 menswear


EH: Can you talk about what went into the design of the shoe?


BG: There was this idea of referencing the first early models of basketball shoes, some of them over 100 years old so this very classic sneaker, using a vulcanized system. And the initial idea I had was to harness the scraps leftover from our bag production. So those were stitched over together in patchworks, comprising the upper of the shoe. Then we worked a lot on the detailing of foxing and the toe box. But it was really about salvaging these leftovers from our handbag collections, which are all made of leather.


EH: What do you think makes a perfect sneaker?


BG: That question has become harder and harder to answer I think, with the escalation of sneaker culture. But for me, I think something truly timeless, something you feel that transcends trends, something that you can pull out of your closet in like 5 years, and most of the sneakers when I look at my own collection, most of the sneakers check those boxes.


byredo summer 2020 menswear


EH: The leftover leather aspect was something I didn’t know about. Is sustainability something that’s always been important for the brand?


BG: I think our approach to sustainability is mostly found in this idea that we try to make products of really high quality, so they stand the test of time. I’m a firm believer that we should buy less, and of a higher quality. I think the sneaker was built in that spirit.


EH: Are there any sneaker trends you’re excited about or any that you’re not?


BG: I think brands like Nike and seeing the work they’ve done with designers — I’m excited about that because this new wave of young designers has been given a certain level of freedom to create sneakers that are interesting and pushing the envelope. So I’m excited about designer collaborations. I’m less excited about the fact that the popularity of the sneaker has grown to the point where everybody makes a sneaker. I think that the product still needs to have a reason for being.


EH: Are you excited by streetwear/athleisure as a whole?


BG: I grew up with streetwear. I moved to Toronto when I was 11. Finished High school in New York. those early waves in the 90s that streetwear was kinda how I came up. It’s interesting seeing it kinda full circle. Sneaker culture is obviously a big part of that but I don’t think I ever imagined it would become as mainstream as it is today.