During a recent visit to the Shoreditch area of London, I had the chance to drop in on the five-year-old brand Pointer Footwear. Housed in a space with both Edwin and Carhartt, founder Gareth Skewis—a well-connected professional that started his career skating in the streets of Johannesburg—now helms the growing label. His office, cluttered (in the best sense) with original artworks, Pointer samples, skateboards and Skewis' personal collection of deadstock shoes, throws off a vibe that suggests all the buzz around Pointer currently.
Informed by art, music, design, skateboarding and history, Pointer flirts with current trends, but at core keeps to a classic, lo-fi aesthetic. In fact, Skewis (somewhat of a history buff), insists that all employees train at John Lobb, the legendary shoe maker that handcrafts custom shoes for the royal family in England and has been making shoes since 1829. Making sure that those that work for him have a deep knowledge of footwear history, ensures that they, as Skewis comments, "understand where the Oxford or Derby shoes came from and how that started. This gives us an understanding of the past to move forward with updated designs at Pointer." Simply put, "in response to a market saturated with increasingly technical trainers and hyped-up limited-edition sneakers," Pointer aims to produce simple, attractive, casual footwear that most (both men and women) can get down with—whether they get the high-end line at Selfridges or visit the neighborhood skateshop for casuals.
Luckily, during our visit, Skewis had just received a few samples of their new Autumn/Winter '09 line, which are now available in stores worldwide and online. New silhouettes that we're particularly excited about include the Benson, a moccasin and boat shoe boot hybrid (above left), the Saha, a pared-down but rugged boat shoe (above middle) and the Tanju, a classic slip-on loafer with a modern spin (above right). I also really liked the Cyril, which interprets the classic desert boot (boot pictured below).
True to their signature style, all the shoes rely on subtle exterior details and superior comfort. For this new line, Pointer went so far as to produce all original lasts, soles and lining, working with an old factory in Portugal and using tried-and-true shoe building techniques to guarantee comfort and longevity. If that doesn't prove Skewis' level of perfectionism, he also makes at least seven or eight samples of each model, refining until he has it right.
Recently branching out some, Pointer worked with Karen Walker to produce limited-edition shoes for Karen Walker's Spring/Summer '10 collection which will hit stores sometime next March. Their first-ever collaborative project, they unveiled two new models, the Alice and Caz (pictured at left) during Walker's recent presentation in NYC for Spring/Summer '10 Fashion Week.
Both suede moccasin styles feature full wrap-around construction uppers with the rubber sole of a boat shoe, again all finely-crafted in Portugal and graced with Pointerâ€™s custom psychedelic tread. Other major collaborations in the works with powerhouse brands are on the horizon, but mums the word until further notice.
Staying true to what they like and making up the rules as they go, Pointer acts like a heritage brand in the making. As they fill a needed niche without the constraints of any rules, we're excited for the continued growth of the Pointer Footwear brand and to see what else they come up with in the future. Remember, this is your heads-up on some huge collaborations coming up, so be sure to check back with Pointer often.
Check out more images of the Pointer office, other Pointer models and some of their original advertising and marketing materials after the jump.