Designer Anthony Thomas Melillo Brings His Relaxed Style to New Sneaker Collection

Fans of designer Anthony Thomas Melillo may have discovered his brand, ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo, thanks to his popular T-shirts launched in 2012. Since then he’s expanded to a full lifestyle collection, so it was only natural that he take the next step: footwear.

Available starting today on atmcollection.com and in branded stores on Bleecker St. in Manhattan and East Hampton, N.Y., the collection includes men’s and women’s styles ranging in price from $375 to $395. The slip-on and lace-up styles are available in materials such as suede, denim, metallic leather and python print.

Here, Melillo talks exclusively with Footwear News about why he decided to dive into footwear and his sourcing and design process.

Why did you decide to get into footwear?
I think it’s just part of [the ATM] lifestyle. We added all of these categories that make the brand a lifestyle brand. It was a matter of time. We’ve never done anything all at once. It’s been pretty organic with our growth. Now that we had taken a breath and had a minute, it was time for some sneakers.

Did you always know you’d do sneakers?
I think it was always in my head. Every step we take is very thought-out. We added everything, and then the time came when I decided I wanted to do shoes. I took about five months to design and get the prototypes and make sure they were what I wanted. To stop me from going crazy, I focus on the specific [item] I’m working on at the time.

You took a lot of time to work out the material for your T-shirts, which are manufactured in Peru. How did you decide on the materials for the sneakers?
I developed them in Portugal. I started with the soles, and that was the longest process. Developing the sole, I learned, is the key to your sneaker. In my head that was the first step. I wanted the sneakers to be timeless. I [wanted a] sole that was not too thick and not too thin, so that was a long process in itself. They came from Italy, so that was an even longer process because anything from Italy takes forever, which is fantastic quality.

Once the [soles] were done, we started researching the materials. [We went] back to classic materials: leather, suede — even to me, denim is a classic. It’s a modern way of doing it in sneakers. Each step was equally important, but it was step by step. Once the soles came, we developed the materials, which all came from Portugal. You know if you do a pink, for instance, it’s one color you can go left or right with — meaning right or wrong. The specifics of things like that were really important. As usual with ATM, things take a little time, but we’re never really in a rush. When it’s perfect, we’ll do it.

ATM Sneakers
ATM Anthony Thomas Melillo men’s Hampton slip-on sneaker.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

Whom would you love to see wearing your sneakers?
I kind of like some of the classic [stars], and I like some of the younger ones. I love Sienna Miller or someone like Gwyneth [Paltrow], because she’s always at the beach and it seems like a natural fit. Then there’s Jake Gyllenhaal — he wears a lot of our clothes, and I see him as a natural fit. Right now I’m in L.A. at the Sunset Tower Hotel, and there’s people that I love that aren’t in the Hollywood business, like Jeff Klein, who owns this hotel. He’s a fashionable guy, and I’d love to see him in them — he’ll definitely have a pair, of course. People at CAA [Creative Arts Agency] like Kevin Huvane [CAA managing partner], who I love. So we have a range.

What’s your favorite pair in the line?
Well I’m wearing the black denim. I kind of wanted to bring the blush pair because we did them for men too, but I didn’t want to get them dirty because they’re samples! I always go back to classics. I think the black denim is going to be my go-to because you put it on and it goes with everything.

Do you have plans for sneakers in future seasons?
Yes, we will rerelease. There might be the classic black suede or the classic black denim, but we’ll also reinvent the colors. In terms of the styles, I think I want to keep them because we have a very big core business. That’s part of our strategy in general. We do a core business in the T-shirts — it’s nonstop and doesn’t change. We add on to it, but it stays the same. I think in shoes it will be core, and I think we will continue to add on, but I don’t have the set plan. We will continue to do three deliveries a year, and within those deliveries something new will come out of it. I think you’ll start to see different colors of the core styles.

Click through the gallery below to shop the collection.

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