How to Be Stylish: Soludos Founder Talks the Perfect Summer Shoes
Having good taste and impeccable style doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes, it takes learning from the best in the industry to truly perfect dressing like a fashion-forward, modern man. Welcome to our series, “How to be Stylish,” where we pick the brains of some of the most respected figures in fashion for their ultimate style tips.
Before launching his footwear brand, Nick Brown was your average style-conscious guy looking for a pair of traditional rope-soled espadrilles while vacationing along the Spanish coast. He searched high and low and — much to his dismay — found nothing. And lo, Soludos was born. Fast forward six years, and Brown’s collection of cool espadrilles for men, women, and kids have attracted editors, bloggers, and beach bums alike. The brand, which has partnered up with Opening Ceremony and Lemlem, provides a stylish and comfortable alternative to those casual flip-flops or sneakers. Read on for our interview with the guy who crafted the perfect summer shoe.
The Cheat Sheet: Tell us about yourself. How did you get to where you are now, career-wise?
Nick Brown: I founded Soludos about six years ago from my apartment in the West Village in NYC. I grew up in London and spent summers in Spain with espadrilles on my feet — the same ones that have been sold in European markets for generations. I felt like there was a need for a modern brand to pay tribute to the classic design of the rope soled summer staples. I launched Soludos [as a collaboration] with Opening Ceremony. Since then, we have designed a variety of refined footwear for men and women using textiles sourced from some of the finest mills around the world from Japan to London.
CS: What’s the one thing every stylish, modern man should invest in?
NB: A great leather duffle for the daily commute. A few years ago, I invested in a leather doctor’s bag from Ghurka: It’s perfect for everyday use with a sleeve for my laptop, iPad as well as a compartment for gym clothes. The classic leather construction only looks better with age. It goes everywhere with me — to and from work and on planes as the perfect travel companion. It was a steep investment at the time, but I have clocked some serious mileage with it.
CS: With the exception of some lace-ups, Soludos is a brand built on stylish espadrilles. Why did you decide to integrate different styles such as sandals and leather-bottom shoes now?
NB: For me, the beauty of espadrilles has always been their simplicity. We spent a lot of time designing our new leather-soled sandals for our girl with deconstructed designs and clean lines with an emphasis on the integrity of materials and exaggerated stitching details. Even though they are not espadrilles, they feel like a truly organic extension for the brand and a style that our customers would [wear] alongside our classic espadrilles.
CS: Whether getting dressed yourself or leading the Soludos team, what’s the one style rule you always follow?
NB: Keep it simple and laid-back, but have an accessory piece that reflects some personality whether it’s a vintage belt or handmade bracelets I’ve picked up on my travels.
CS: What are five things that every modern man needs in his closet (besides a pair of espadrilles)?
NB: A denim jacket never goes out of style and can be layered during almost every season of the year. The perfect pair of sunglasses that compliments his own style — Garrett Leight is one of my favorites. Timeless leather belts that add detail. A great fitting swimsuit — Solid & Striped have the best ones. A pair of white jeans for year round use — the no white after Labor Day “rule” is a myth.
CS: You’ve had a great track record of collaborating with some really cool brands (Jason Polan, LemLem and Cuisse de Grenouille). What are some things you consider when partnering up with other brands?
NB: We’ve been so lucky to collaborate with great partners. The most important piece is that they have a strong point of view and integrity in their design and purpose. Jason Polan is gifted with a whimsical mind only outdone by his hand and Lemlem’s beautiful fabrics are all handmade in Ethiopia by artisans; each are instantly recognizable, unique, and lend something special to Soludos.
CS: Soludos hasn’t even been around for 10 years and it’s already a notable footwear brand. What advice would you give Cheat Sheet readers who want to break into the fashion industry?
NB: Focus on the product. The industry has never be so crowded, so one’s product must have a compelling point of differentiation. That being said, the barriers to entry have never been lower. Keep it simple, establish an authentic point of view, and grow pragmatically step-by-step. One can go a long way these days without needing to invest much capital to test the concept in the market.
CS: Where do you see Soludos five years from now?
NB: Designing beautiful simple footwear and accessories — hopefully with a shop in Tulum and Ibiza so I can spend my time at each!
Follow Kelsey on Twitter @KMulvs