We’ve undone the laces and pulled back the tongue on the sweet souls that create our stellar soles. Meet Men’s Product Developer Benjamin. “I’m someone who researches fashion, and finds the new “thing,” the new detail, the new silhouette, the new colour, the new material, and make them appealing to consumers.”
When did you first become passionate about shoes?
By working at an Aldo store! When I started I had the ugliest style ever! I wasn’t interested in fashion, but I realized something very quickly—the more I knew about fashion, the more I could give advice to our customers. So I forced myself to go shopping and walk around downtown. I’d go into stores, see new collections, the new colours, the new materials and I just got into it, it became natural. After a few years I asked myself what I wanted to do at the company and I decided I wanted to work in product because I like how fashion affects life every single day.
What do you do at Call It Spring?
I’m a product developer. My goal is to make a shoe that customers look at, take in their hand and think, “Wow, this shoe is amazing it must be $80.” But, then they turn it over and say, “$50? Sold!” I want the product to sell itself.
There’s a lot of travel involved with your job. Can you tell us about it?
Everyone says “You’re so lucky!” But I can tell you it’s a heck of a job! It’s a big investment to send me abroad so it’s non-stop work. In China, I’ll go to factories daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., working face-to-face with our suppliers telling them exactly what we want to do—the pattern, the style, the colours. We do the colour combo on the spot and go through 1.5 million swatches of material.
If you’re dealing with suppliers, you must have an encyclopaedic knowledge of shoes, right?
When you communicate with suppliers, you need to be credible. They’re technicians and really smart technicians—much better than I am. But, as a product developer, it’s important that I know how a shoe is made, the different types of construction, the difference between a goodyear welt or cemented or vulcanized, and that I know the actual things involved in making a pattern. This ensures I don’t look like a fool and ask for ridiculous things!
Tell us about the new men’s collection and the trends that inspired them.
Textiles for men are pretty big and there’s a lot of more colour but it’s faded or monochrome. Coloured soles are something important, but they’re not as bright as in past seasons—darker coloured soles are trendy. There’s also the type of shoe that looks dress, a textile upper with a derby look. You can wear it with a nice lightweight suit, or pair it with jeans and a polo and still look cool. But, if you have to have dress shoes, opt for colour. Don’t be scared to ditch black or dark brown! A deep forest green is a great colour, or a deep, oily Bordeaux.
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
It’s never the same! It never stops! Every day brings new challenges. People ask me, “What’s your regular day like?” The truth is it’s always changing. It requires a lot of organization—mostly because you’re constantly dealing with new things and you need to be really focused but flexible, and accept new tasks. That’s what I love about that job. Every day is different, every day brings new challenges, and when you overcome those challenges and turn them it to a success, it’s the most gratifying feeling ever!