This Cult Japanese Ugly Shoe Brand Is Collaborating with Bape + Upping Its E-Commerce Game During the Pandemic

Founded in 2006, Cult Japanese sandal label Suicoke was way ahead of 2020’s breakout ugly shoe trend.

It’s become known for its eclectic and unexpected collaborations with Palm Angels under Moncler’s Genius Project, LVMH Prize finalist Cecilie Bahnsen, and hip street wear label A Bathing Ape. 

During the pandemic, it has partnered with Scandinavian furniture house Hay, which reinterpreted the Suicoke Depa sandal in three color blocked iterations. And Suicoke’s latest collaboration launched this week when it teamed up again with Bape on a customized version of the Suicoke Dao style with lenticular upper.

Suicoke EMEA director general Enrico Pasi
Suicoke EMEA director general Enrico Pasi.
CREDIT: Enrico Pasi

One of the architects of these collaborations is Milan-based Enrico Pasi. Appointed Suicoke EMEA general director in 2019, Pasi’s relationship with the brand goes back some five years.

He was working as sales and brand manager for streetwear platform Slam Jam when he first came across Suicoke. He was looking to take on a brand that was both fashion forward and affordable — and Suicoke ticked all the boxes.

Pasi discovered that the only place the brand available in Europe was Copenhagen’s hip Norse Projects — so he cut a deal that made Slam Jam the European distributor and began importing it.

Cecilie Bahnsen X Suicoke
Cecilie Bahnsen X Suicoke.
CREDIT: Rex / Shutterstock

Suicoke is produced in China, the first country both to suspend and to reopen its production and retail during the Coronavirus pandemic. So while life in Europe and the United States was on hold, the Chinese factory was back up and running.

Fortunately Pasi had already received spring deliveries in December, although he admits that store closures presented a challenge. “Suicoke is predominantly a summer sandal label so this is a key moment for us, but I’m confident after seeing the rapid recovery that China has made,” he said.

Fall has been more complicated — and the brand is grappling with cancellations and decreases in orders like everyone else. However, Pasi is remaining positive: “We take the view that it is better to have one weaker season than to completely lose a partner that is fundamental to our business,” he said.

Suicoke X Hay
Suicoke X Hay.
CREDIT: Suicoke

While samples for spring ’21 have already been produced, the brand has adapted its strategy as a result of the pandemic, focusing on core styles and carry-overs. “We decided not to introduce too much newness at this time,” he noted.

According to Pasi, the pandemic has both focused and accelerated Suicoke’s digital aspirations. “We quickly realized how fundamental this has become in communicating with our customers and we have found ourselves communicating more than ever before,” he said. In addition to direct mailings and Instagram, he has also launched a new TikTok account.

Going forward, the biggest development will be the launch of the brand’s e-commerce in Japan and via partners in Hong Kong, China, the United States and Canada. He is currently looking for a European partner to take things to the next level.   

Suicoke x A Bathing Ape
Suicoke x A Bathing Ape.
CREDIT: Suicoke
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