The Highsnobiety inboxes are inundated on a daily basis with new brands vying for a piece of the spotlight. So to help you show off your vast knowledge of sneaker brands, each month we take a moment to present bitesized introductions to upcoming brands that we enjoy. Stepping away from the hype circles that dominate the mainstream sneaker market, Highsnobiety meets an emerging shoe brand with a refreshing old school twist to how things are done.
No.One offers premium, hand-made sneakers in familiar silhouettes. Produced in-house in the brand's Venice Beach studio, limited numbers mean pairs don’t hang around on shelves for long. You can expect quality materials and meticulous construction from this brand with a clear vision to slow things down, and fill a specific bespoke gap in the premium sneaker market.
We leave behind our YEEZYs and NMDs (at least for now) to appreciate the true art of shoe making with No.One. The brainchild of shoe industry vet Mark Gainor (former Native Shoes Creative Director) and pro skateboarder Jimmy Gorecki, No.One sets out to change the way sneakers are made today, or more suitably, revive the way they used to be made.
It’s certainly a bold move for a shoe brand, comprised of three cobblers as well as Gainor and Gorecki, taking on the modern market while favoring old school techniques. Could it be that No.One are about to give the game a much-needed shake up?
Check out our interview with Mark Gainor below.
Can you explain how you came up with the name No.One?
No.One has a dual meaning, it reads primarily as No One, meaning anonymity. No one person is more important than the product or process. It's a reminder to be humble, don't trip on yourself, just do the work and let the product speak for itself.
But it also means Number 1. One of one, top of the food chain. There is a tremendous pride in what we do here, and we want to claim that pride as well.
What sets No.One apart in the current footwear market?
We make sneakers by hand. That combination is very rare, there are only a handful of brands in the world that do that. And I can say with confidence that we are the only ones who do it the way we do.
Your Instagram reads No One System, can you explain that?
The No.One System is a diagram, a system that informs everything we do. For me it was really important that this brand be about more than just a product.
I am the product of a rich culture, of friends and family and ideologies, it's so much deeper than a shoe. I needed to have a way to infuse some of these inspirations into this brand.
At the center of the "System" diagram is the known/unknown. For me, that means this brand stands for everyone I have known, they are what drives this forward. People inspire me more than all the shoes in the world.
Is keeping stock limited important, or is it simply a by-product of how the product is created?
Having limited product is a result of the process we have chosen.
It doesn't thrill me to say "we are the most expensive" or "super limited," but we have chosen to make shoes to a specific standard, and to use materials and processes that subsequently curtail the amount of shoes we can make. The product also involves a lot of hand-crafted work, which is going to drive the cost up.
Are your traditional manufacturing processes a response to modern sneaker technology?
Definitely, more a response to the entire modern sneaker structure than just the production.
You have most sneakers being designed and produced 12-18 months in advance, inside of an antiquated seasonal calendar that demands new "innovative" releases every month. Hence the endless drops of whack colors and materials on the same tired silhouettes. It's a blueprint for mediocrity.
It's critical for us to make shoes in real time that go live into our customers hands as we create them. You can really have an authentic dialogue with your customer, we send them photos of the shoes being made, we know when they receive the shoes and how long they have been wearing them. We stay in communication with them for the entire process, and will continue to do so.
On the business side, we don't carry inventory or have to deal with forecasting, returns, and discounting. All that bullshit. Of course we have our own unique set of challenges, but they feel like modern issues to be expected when you do something different.
You’re about to be stocked at Union, who else will you be partnering with on a retail level?
I have been shopping at Union for the past decade. I am both a fan and customer of that store. It's an honor. I can't name names right now but there are a handful of other stores in the world that I feel this way about, and that's who we are talking to.
Can someone actually show up at your studio and get a pair of custom kicks made on the spot?
Yes, sir. By appointment only and we take cash.
What can we expect in the future?
We love what we do and I can sincerely say we get better every day. The shoes we make tomorrow will be better than the ones we made today.
So you can expect more of the same, but better.
Now meet Tony Ferguson and Rone, the brand making elevated skate footwear.