We all have our comfy shoes lined up by the door: ready for action when we check the mail or run to the grocery store, but sadly they don’t often get to see any sunshine on days with meetings, work dinners, etc. These temples of relief aren’t particularly known for looking stylish—perhaps it’s the price of comfort. Enter Hopp Studios, Eree Kim’s design that is prioritizing both—and you might end up never taking them off. Launched earlier this spring, Hopp Studios’ only style thus far is a sleek, padded oxford (in luxe suede or leather) that even gives the wearer a little height, along with all the benefits of comfort tech including arch support. This is no ugly shoe; it’s clean, minimalist and would pair well with most of your closet.
“I would always find that one style that comfort shoe brands would have, that I could kind of pull off,” Kim tells CH on constantly browsing through brands like Birkenstock, Worishofer orthopedic sandals, and Beautifeel on eBay. “But I would always sort of want to change a few things about them.” Thanks to her background in fashion and design (the FIT grad was designing knitwear and sweaters at Opening Ceremony for a long time, as well as at Calvin Klein, Calvin Klein Performance and Everlast), Kim knew what she wanted to tweak. But altering shoes, of course, isn’t as easy as altering a vintage dress.
This is where San Antonio-based SAS Shoes comes in. The 40-year-old expert comfort shoemakers still produce most of their shoes in their two Texas factories. Kim cold-called them, spoke with the CEO, and traveled there in person to present her concept. And now it’s the rare instance where SAS is manufacturing shoes for the outside company. It’s entirely Kim’s design—she even sourced the thick, flexible rubber sole from an Italian shoemaker and had them shipped to SAS, which made the rest of the shoe. But she has the benefit of tapping SAS’ comfort tech like their special padded insole and padded knit lining. “If I had tried to use a regular shoe factory, they wouldn’t have the capabilities to do what SAS does,” says Kim.
The Hopp Essential Oxford ($225) is now available in half sizes; note that the style runs small. For fall, Kim will be releasing a boot and mule, both on a custom-molded low heel.
Close-up images by Cool Hunting; lookbook images courtesy of Hopp and James Chororos