Today I have a very special post to share. I know everybody says things like that…but trust me on this one.
How to start? Let’s just get down to it.
I have an interview with the founder of Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather.
If you do not have a vegan shoe blog like me, and feel it is your duty to share cool vegan shoes with vegans and vegetarians, you may not be intimately familiar with this brand.
They are the coolest vegan shoe brand. Based in Paris, they make perfect desert boots, oxfords and other amazing classic (often with a twist!) shoes that did not exist in non leather materials before their company. They have an amazing tumblr that I love which is full of awesome pics of old movies, music and their inspirations. They have a really cool company name and adorable logo, are extremely nice (connecting with fans such as myself and through facebook), and their shoes are actually cool, which is a rare quality in vegan shoes. Also cute.
I was so intrigued by this company I requested an interview.
Well the company is even more interesting than I thought.
It was created single handedly by one woman, Marion, with photography by her twin sister and Francois, with inspiration by her boyfriend, her “vegan muse”. The company is influenced by her love of movies, books and music–which you will read about below. Her logo was inspired by The New Yorker. Woody Allen appears in all caps in her movie recs.
Might I ask…why aren’t more shoe companies inspired by Woody Allen and The New Yorker? (to name only a few of her inspirations). So great.
Thank you so much, Marion, for doing this interview. I loved your answers and can’t wait to check out your movie, book, and music inspirations.
My questions are in bold.
Who are the people who make up Good Guys?
I’m Marion Hanania, french shoe designer, born, raised and based in Paris, France. I’m the owner, creator and designer of Good Guys.
I work with my twin sister Estelle Hanania and Francois Coquerel who are photographers and have shot all the Good Guys campaigns so far. I work with Jessica Gysel for the press and marketing part.
This season I collaborated with Jason and Sophie Glasser for the latest campaign and my boyfriend Yaya Herman Dune is the Good Guys Vegan-Muse from the start :)
Amazing! I love this.
How did you get the idea for Good Guys. Had it been percolating for a long time or did it pop into your head one day?
I’d been planning on creating my own brand while I was working for other brands and I got this idea that the brand I’ll be creating will definitely be a vegetarian brand as I am myself a vegetarian. I’m an animal lover and a while ago I realized that it wouldn’t mean anything if my own brand used leather, so I decided that when I start this project I won’t use animal products at all.
Was it difficult to get the company going?
I have a 10 years experience in the shoe-business, so for me it was easy to start with a small collection but harder to find the right factory to produce the vegan shoes since suppliers are used to working with leather which is way easier compared to using fabrics.
Did people think you were crazy and tell you things like “vegan shoes aren’t breathable” (which I get all the time) or were people excited about it?
I had the feeling that in France I could get a weird image saying it’s a “vegetarian brand” as people here are such meat lovers and where leather is synonym of luxe and quality for them. I had everything to prove to french customers. Finally they realized though that the “vegan” part was an additional value to a product they want to wear anyway and not the other way around…Like “yeah…it’s vegan but do I really want to wear those heavy boots?” Now it’s more like “Cool shoes…WHAT? it’s vegan? let me get those :)”
Was it hard getting up the courage to strike out on your own as an entrepreneur?
I have this in me. I always wanted to create my brand. I had my own shoe line at 21 years old when I started. I learned everything from experience. I had no family in the fashion industry or anything related to management so it’s hard every day, but it’s so much fun too and so instructive.
I love the name “Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather” so much. It reminds me of an old Western movie somehow, while also getting across an animal rights message, but in a gentler and more positive way than some companies. How did you come up with it?
My brand is not meant to make other people feel guilty for wearing leather. It’s not an aggressive statement, it’s a way to show that wearing leather is not a fatality if you also want to have style. I knew the name “Good Guys don’t wear leather” was the perfect fit for my brand.
How did you find someone to make your shoes? Were you already in the shoe business? If not, I imagine it must have been an adventure learning the ins and outs of making shoes.
I looked and asked suppliers that I knew of and they found me the right place to produce my shoes. Also as I said I was a freelance shoe designer for 10 years so it was natural to me and I knew how to start my project.
I LOVE your tumblr. You guys are one of the only vegan shoe companies that has a really cool brand somehow. It’s unique and personal, and inspired by old movies and Americana and music and things like that (as far as I can tell). Your tumblr, your logo, your shoes–all have real style. Did you always feel like you had a vision for your brand?
Thanks, I designed the logo of Good Guys myself. I had a precise idea of what I wanted so that’s how it came up, a dog playing with a shoe. I’m a big fan of the New Yorker illustrations and the logo is so good I wanted to draw something that would last years and be personal too.
Are the inspirations and photos in your tumblr really important to your company–or are they just stuff you personally like.
And finally, what IS your “vision” for the company? (long question!!).
My vision for the company is to grow and get known by vegan and non-vegan and collaborate with people I like, artists or designers..(More soon…) and keep having fun doing it.
Can you list some of your inspirations. What are some of your favorite books, movies, and music. I’d love to know. I’m always so inspired to become more cultured after looking at your tumblr (haha).
Favorite music is Herman Dune, The Beatles, Withered hand, John Frusciante, Jack White, James Levy, Beck, Turner Cody, This is The Kit, The WoWz, Caitlin Rose, Jonathan Wilson, Bob Dylan, Elliott Smith….people who have a lot to say :) I like lyrics…But I also love the Kavinsky track “Nightcall” on the Drive soundtrack and Zombie Zombie.
I Love reading Murakami, Jack Kerouac, Philip Roth, my favorite is Henry Miller…
I love movies and my boyfriend too so we’re constantly watching something, 2 movies a day basically. WOODY ALLEN, Alfred Hitchcock, Jude Apatow, Terry Gilliam etc…..
Is it fun to run a vegan business? Was it everything you thought it would be when you decided to take on the challenge of starting your own company?
Yes it’s fun, complicated and challenging.
Feel free to maintain your right to remain silent, but can you give us any hints about what the next collection of shoes is going to be like? I’m excited to see what you will come up with for Spring. I loved those pastel shoes!
You better get ready for a lot of colors. I love designing the summer collection because it always have a very “summer-ish, Holiday-ish” feeling and this time more than ever, it’s a good excuse to go get inspiration somewhere far away from Paris :)
Thank you so much. You guys are wonderful. Please feel free to add anything you would like to add, or further comments about anything whatsoever!
Thanks for the interview and thanks for the support :))
Hope you enjoyed the interview as much as I did, o readers of the blog.