Stepney Workers Club is an East London brand that specializes in vulcanized sneakers. The brand, which is now proudly stocked at Highsnobiety Shop, preaches inclusivity, which goes back to the English workers sports clubs SWC is named after.
SWC oozes versatility and casual cool, which is personified by three main sneaker styles: the slip-on Lister, low-top Dellow, and high-top Varden. All three styles feature vulcanized sole units, as mentioned above, as well as heavy-duty, durable-yet-supple canvas uppers. True to its timeless ethos, the brand’s sneakers come in black and all-white.
We caught up with co-founders Roger Pereira and Simon See, who gave us some insight into what makes SWC special in their eyes, and how a brand that specializes in timeless design can set itself apart from the competition. Read below to find out.
What are Workers Sports Clubs and why did they serve as inspiration for the brand?
The original Stepney Workers Sports Club was a social group and traditional ‘workers club’ in the first half of the 20th century. They were involved in various sports and an important part of the local community. We were inspired by their involvement in local sports, liberal views, and inclusive nature. We were also drawn to images of their hand-made graphics and banners from the ’20s and ’30s, which were used in anti-war and anti-fascist activism.
What does “Freedom of Sport, Freedom of Thought” mean to you, and why are those words so important to the brand?
This was a slogan we found on one of the hand-made banners used by the original Stepney Workers Sports Club and it immediately excited and resonated with us. It summed up perfectly the inclusive nature of local amateur sports groups and the importance of free-thinking and the acceptance of other views. It also connected with other themes that interested us, such as how everything is connected and unified via thought and collective consciousness.
How much do your roots in East London come to play in the product, storytelling, and strategy of the brand?
We discovered we had links to people involved in the original Stepney Workers Sports Club so this was important in making the story and connection authentic. East London has always represented a very diverse and multicultural society, which exemplifies the free-thinking individuals that inspires some of our storytelling as a brand.
Where do you see the brand progressing? Are there any other silhouettes you would like to add to the collection?
We see potential in many areas of the brand. First and foremost we would like to start adding a social and events-based element to the brand once the world recovers and opens up again.
When we started the brand we were very conscious to not over-develop and not make tons of needless products like most other fashion and sports brands. We wanted our product offering to be timeless, concise, and easy to understand; we currently have a lace-up (DELLOW), a slip-on (LISTER), and a hi-top (VARDEN).
We have just introduced a new collection called S-STRIKE which is an important step forward for the brand. We have also started to add some apparel and accessories to the product offering. A big part of future moves revolves around projects with other brands and creatives; our approach to these is always to be very considered and hopefully unexpected also.
What makes your sneakers different from other vulcanized sneaker brands?
What really sets our product aside from other vulcanized brands, aside from our proportions and silhouette, is the immediate comfort element ‘straight out of the box’ when people put them on. A very structured and sturdy sole that is also flexible and cushioned coupled with soft supple uppers constructed without tons of glue and bonding chemicals like other sneaker brands.
Walk us through some of the graphics on your apparel. What are they, what are they inspired by?
Currently, our shirt graphics generally reference amateur sports imagery. Our new ‘CROWD’ shirt is inspired by the immediate nostalgia of missing sports and social/music events when lockdown hit. It’s a collage of an old sports crowd with subtle use of layered scaling and our brand message. Our ‘LOOK INSIDE’ shirt features an unusual overhead shot of a circle gathering which looks almost floral from a distance. It is inspired by a Carl Jung quote which, to us, references the evolution of the mind and the importance of community; “Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakes.”
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Timeless and inclusive. Something versatile that feels like it could have been around for the last 80 years and adopted by many sub-cultures…and something that feels relevant still today and that will always be around.
Shop Stepney Workers Club at Highsnobiety Shop
To stay updated on everything happening in the sneaker world, follow @highsnobietysneakers on Instagram, check out the best sneakers to add to your rotation this week, and sign up to our newsletter for the latest sneaker news sent straight to your inbox.
Want to keep browsing? Head to the Highsnobiety Shop for more products that we love. Highsnobiety has affiliate marketing partnerships, which means we may receive a commission from your purchase.