Exotic Destinations Inspire New Men’s Lines

The men’s market is going places. This spring marks the debut of Zims, a collection based on styles handcrafted in Africa, followed by the fall launch of Prajaa, an Indonesian-produced collection.

Zims, created by British husband-and-wife team Lindsey and Nick Mundy, was inspired by a trip to Zimbabwe. While there, Nick picked up a pair of shoes built in a small workshop operated by his sister-in-law. The shoes, made without a last or modern machinery, became popular among his friends at home, and the couple decided to create a collection around their own version of the original design.

“We liked the style very much but had to alter, tweak and perfect the design to make the shoe commercially viable,” said Lindsey. “We were influenced by various factors, but significantly inspirational were the shapes and colors of [the region’s] Matopos [mountains] and the vigor and imagination of their cave drawings.”

Instead of heading back to Africa for production, the couple tapped factories in Spain. The final product is a round-toe design done in super-soft leathers and suedes enhanced with comfort features such as rubber outsoles and padded footbeds. Available for immediate delivery, the men’s style retails for about $100. And based on the positive reaction to the collection so far, said Lindsey, a companion women’s version is set to launch in May.  

Also a joint venture, Prajaa is a partnership between concert pianist Ferdy Tumakaka and furniture designer-turned-footwear entrepreneur Sebastianus Reza, both natives of Indonesia. Tumakaka’s interest in footwear prompted the new line.

“I saw some of Reza’s styles and was impressed with the leathers and craftsmanship,” he said about the shoemaker’s small workshop in the country’s footwear capital of Bandung, where he manufactures private-label goods for local stores.

By the end of 2010, the two had introduced a collection of sophisticated comfort-casuals that include chukkas and espadrilles, all featuring sneaker-inspired bottoms. Set to deliver in August, the six-pattern collection retails from $150 to $175, and will make its debut at DDC Lab in New York. An expanded offering is set for spring ’12.

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