Preorders for the direct-to-consumer line open today, with four colorways of sneaker set on a distinctive air bubble wedge sole. However, there’s an unexpected twist. The genderless, leather-free collection will shortly evolve to incorporate a range of decidedly non-sneaker uppers.
FN caught up with the footwear veteran, who is also creative director at Clergerie, to find out how the idea took shape, how it will develop and why it shouldn’t be compared to the Balenciaga Triple S.
The label might indeed be new for 2019, but Beauciel came up with the idea some 20 years ago. He wanted to make a technical air bubble shoe on a wedge sole but came to an impasse due to the era’s lack of available technology. “It’s been like a 20-year gestation, as if I had a baby inside of me growing bigger and bigger,” he said. “Now it’s the moment this baby needs to walk by itself, and it’s perfect because it’s a shoe.”
He finally found the expertise he was looking for in China, where Shoes 53045 is manufactured by a specialist athletics factory. “Often when people say something is Chinese-made it is pejorative,” he said, “but the knowledge is in Asia; I’m proud to say we are made in China.”
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The brand, however, is a thoroughly global affair, and while Beauciel’s immediate team is based in Europe, CEO Aurelia Ammour, a strategy consultant whose clients have included KVMH and Kering, is based in Los Angeles.
He elected for the direct-to-consumer model to democratize the selling process, both for himself and the end consumer. Brands selling wholesale are pigeonholed by buyers at big retailers, he said. “I don’t want a judge between me and the customer, I want the consumer to decide what they want to buy.”
Although the label is launching with sneakers, Beauciel’s ambitions are infinitely wider, with new drops planned every month or two. Tapping into the evolution of the sneaker industry, the line will develop to include a wide range of uppers including traditional Oxfords, moccasins, loafers and more.
“We’re both a monoproduct but also a multiproduct,” he said, referring to his signature Bump Air sole and citing similarities with brands such as Doc Martens, Ugg and Birkenstock.
Beauciel thrives on variety. “The Balenciaga is dedicated to Demna [Gvasalia’s] vision. I love it, but it’s his opinion, very avant garde and very high-fashion,” he said, adding that the Clergerie concept is much more traditional artisanal. For him, Shoes 53045 is an altogether different proposition again.
“I don’t want it to be compared with the Balenciaga,” he emphasized. “Because it’s a not just a sneaker; it’s a hybrid — not so extreme, fashion but not fashion,” he noted, continuing that Shoes will have a wider and more cross-generational appeal.
It also offers an element of Beauciel humor; with a sole inspired by a fairground bumper car, hence the name Bump Air, how could it not? “They could be cool for Nicolas Sarkozy,” he said mischievously of the 1.65-meter former French president, referring to the elevation offered by his wedges. As for the 53045 part of the brand name, just turn it upside down and all will be revealed. It spells “shoes” in digital typography. Beauciel came up with the tongue-in-cheek idea while bouncing along on the treadmill.