Josh and Tull Price are the brains behind just about the dopest kicks that Australia has to offer. TVG goes toe to toe (get it?) with Josh Price about his brother’s first company, Royal Elastics, and their current company, FEIT (pronounced ‘fight!’).
1. You guys have recently set up your first flagship store in New York – are New Yorkers vibing your gear? What’s the reception like?
The reception has been really good so far. Having built the brand and its identity very slowly and carefully for the last 10 years via our Sydney store and direct to customer online business we felt that it was time to take it to the next level. Since Tull and our design studio are based in NY, it was a logical next step. Having the store in New York has really allowed us to create products specific to the market. Tull designed the Arctic Hiker during the polar vortex which was specifically made to handle the tough winters.
FEIT places great importance on process and craft, this philosophy influences not only the product design – the creation of beautiful, well-made shoes – but also the brand’s identity. Our friend Jordana Maisie designed every piece of furniture as a one off – specifically for this space, nothing modular, each piece was built onsite, entirely by hand, by two very talented carpenters. FEIT supporters have responded extremely well to this as the store has really allowed them to get to know the creators behind the brand as never before. Plus we’re surrounded by some amazing neighbours like the New Museum, which has been a driver of the Lower East Side for over 30 years curating bold and new art shows. NYC’s historical International Centre for Photography will be housed across the road from FEIT store from later this year as well.
2. Any favourite bars in New York we should know about?
I don’t drink much these days, but I do enjoy a glass of wine with dinner at Bar Pitti when I’m in New York.
3. What’s the coffee like?
I don’t drink coffee, but traditionally not as good as Australia as far as I know. That being said, there are heaps of Aussies opening cafes in NY, so that should help.
4. If you could have one person alive or dead wear and endorse your shoes, who would it be?
Wow… I’m a big Einstein fan. Obviously he was a genius, but I think he also looked great all the time. Don’t know if he cared, but he definitely had style. The hair, the moustache, the pipe, the confidence of being a revolutionary genius…. I would be very excited to see him in a pair of FEIT shoes and apparently he never wore socks, and our shoes are best worn with no socks.
5. Your brother Tull had a pretty wild ride in the nineties with Royal Elastics. Has this experience influenced your work with FEIT? How so?
In the mid 90’s Tull was excited by and interested in the idea of globalization, the possibility that one could create a global brand with a similar tone that could carry to kids in different parts of the world who spoke entirely different languages but had similar desires and an increasingly similar sense of style…Paris, Tokyo, New York, London.
After 10 years of following that path he found himself in a situation where he had to sell the company to a US publicly traded athletic company to keep it alive. Seeing the effects and the compromises required to drive its growth and survival, especially subsequent to its sale to a public entity. Feit was created as a reaction and is based on an ideology we refer to as Neo Luxury.
6. Where does most of your visual inspiration come from?
All over really. Be it nature, art, architecture. In terms of how our products come in to being we like to say that construction leads design. We are most inspired by people who are making great things by hand and in a traditional manner. We favour a minimal, modern aesthetic.
7. What’s your favourite pair at the moment?
The Biotrainer in Semi Cordovan for sure. An early objective of ours was to bridge the gap between sneakers and dress shoes. Our Hand Sewn collection would be the best example of this, but the Biotrainer is kind of the reverse – the world’s first 100% natural, hand made sneaker. It’s a mad sneaker that can also be dressed up and the Cordovan leather is beautiful to look at and better to wear.
8. Where do you want your next store to be?
We are looking to opening more stores in New York as well as Melbourne. Stay tuned!
9. If you could, would you make all your shoes out of leather? Are you a purist, or do you see every material with equal potential?
I’d say I am a purist in the sense that I believe that natural materials are far superior to synthetics. It’s not as simple as saying leather is good and other materials aren’t. Most leathers out there are treated with heaps of chemicals – particularly chrome – which is bad for the leather, the wearer and the environment. Natural materials wear better, age beautifully and are more comfortable. We use only natural materials – whether it’s the veg tanned leather on all our shoes, the rubber sole on the Biotrainer or our buffalo leather and natural cork footbeds.
10. You’re big on sustainable construction and have an artisanal approach. Can you tell me a bit more about your ethos?
It’s about doing something in the manner we consider best. I think it applies to every field. As mentioned earlier, we aim to make a product of maximum quality with minimal environmental impact. Luckily these goals are interdependent.
11. Now here’s a random question – what do you think is mankind’s most important invention? No wrong answers here!
Another good one! Everything that springs to mind has serious pros and cons. I’m tempted to say the printing press, but it’s more the ability to record and retain information in a manner other than orally, which probably existed prior to that…. Maybe ink?