The studio has come a long way from its initial MakersMonday™ series, which established Studio Hagel as a go-to place for inspiration for other designers, creatives, and brands alike. Now, the eponymous brand represents a natural next step in the evolution of the Studio.
It was always Hagelaars' plan to one day launch his own brand and bring products to market that weren’t designed as a commission or for other brands: “Back in 2017 or 2016, we started making our own prototypes. And I always got asked by people if they can buy them,” Hagelaars explains. “But I always said no, because I’m not a customizer. I’m a designer and this is a design studio.”
That approach meant Hagelaars and his team wanted to bide their time and make sure the brand was fully formed before anything dropped.
“The idea behind the brand is to combine the design philosophies of the entire studio, the whole team,” he says. “All the designs that we’re creating, we use our MakersMonday as a reference point.”
The first sneaker, named the Hagel Shroud, is actually inspired by the very first MakersMonday™ product, a remixed Nike Cortez, that features a shroud.
“The overall design is inspired by car hoods and shrouds. And we wanted people to see that the design started from [this MakersMonday Cortez], but we didn’t just want to copy the original,” Hagelaars stresses. “We wanted to push it even further.”
And push it further they did. The sneaker bears a subtle resemblance to the Cortez — mainly on the overall shape — but is brimming with details and features that allow it to stand proudly as its own design.
One of those is a double-injected outsole, which Hagelaars claims, to his knowledge, has never been done before. “It's a directly injected outsole, and then we have a second layer inspired by ice cleats, which have also been used before in the MakersMonday,” he reveals.
Another nod to MakersMonday™ is the imperfect outsole tread, which was purposely made slightly uneven, to replicate the hints of slight imperfections found in Studio Hagel’s early concepts.
If you flip over the sneaker, which is constructed of high-quality ECCO leather, you’ll see a little gap on the outsole, through which you can see the profile of the original Nike Cortez. It’s thoughtful details like this, that elevate the sneaker and justify its €450 price tag.
Obviously, launching an own brand is filled with different challenges and opportunities from working with third-party clients. One such, is that there are less boundaries.
“We can do whatever we want, which is amazing, but it's also your worst enemy in a way,” admits Hagelaars. “We have to think of, "Okay, what is Hagel exactly? What are the things that we want to do?" And then you have to apply that to the product.”
The lack of boundaries is no doubt a luxury, but Hagelaars and his team definitely took their time with the product to make sure it was the best it could be. The Hagel sneaker took a year-and-a-half to design and produce. ECCO, which functions as much as a material innovation company as a footwear brand, gave Studio Hagel the opportunity to partner with its factory. The two brands had worked together often in the past, so the relationship was already strong.
Ultimately, ECCO’s production experience and know-how, paired with Studio Hagel’s boundary-breaking design ethos and fresh take on footwear, have proven a potent combination.
The sneaker offers the community something new, while paying respect to one of its most iconic designs in the Nike Cortez. Quality, craftsmanship, and conscious design are all hallmarks of Studio Hagel’s first shoe. It’s a design by sneakerheads for sneakerheads.
The fact that this year is the Cortez’s 50th anniversary wasn’t even part of the plan, merely coincidental. “I'm happy to hear that. I didn't know that at all,” smiles Hagelaars. “The only thing that I know is that I really like the Cortez and also really like the shroud that we created for our shoe.”
We’re sure there are going to be plenty of people that like the Cortez- and car-shroud-inspired Hagel Shroud, too.