Sebastian Öhrn is on a mission to shake up the world of men's footwear. In 2016, driven by a desire to make beautiful, handcrafted footwear accessible to all, the young Swede established Myrqvist, a shoe brand with a difference. By cutting out middlemen and selling its shoes directly to customers online and via a flagship store in Stockholm, Myrqvist manages to offer a price much closer to the production cost than that of traditional footwear brands, without any compromise on quality. Fusing Scandinavian minimalism and functionality with traditional British design, Myrqvist produces classic styles like loafers, Oxfords, derbies and Chelsea boots, all characterised by a timeless, elegant aesthetic.
We caught up with Sebastian to learn more about Myrqvist and what he's learnt in the four years since its inception.
It all started with a simple idea: I wanted more men to discover the refined feeling of handcrafted shoes. For this to happen we needed to change the shoe business from the ground up. For a long time, this type of footwear has been associated with a hefty price tag, due to a larger number of retailers, agents and distributors between the production and the end customer. Thanks to the Internet, we can now offer our products directly from our factory to our customers, without the retail mark-up.
It stems from an interest in craftsmanship and quality materials that result in products that can last for decades and age beautifully. Wear and tear gives clothing and footwear character and make them more alive. This applies to quality leather shoes, but also other items such as waxed cotton jackets and selvedge jeans.
While we focus on designing classic footwear styles, all our shoes are made with the influence of Swedish design. This can be seen aesthetically, as well as functionally – foremost on the soles we offer that are designed tackle the harsh Scandinavian climate.
Our Goodyear welted shoes are 100% hand made. The manufacturing process begins with the selection of leathers: most of our calf skin comes from the well renowned French tannery Du Puy, and our suedes from Charles F. Stead. The shoes are then handcrafted in Portugal by craftsmen in a factory with over 60 years of experience in Goodyear welting
Similarly with the shoe styles we offer, I tend to wear classic items of clothing that are made to last and develop a nice patina. Today for example, I am wearing our black Orust derbies, a pair of well-worn heavy fabric jeans, a Brooks Brothers button-down shirt, lambswool sweater and a raglan coat made from Harris tweed.
Without hesitating, I would choose our Stenhammar penny loafer because of its versatility. It is an all-around loafer with a half-rubber sole making it possible to wear even in the winter as well as the summer. It is also very easy to wear with most outfits – it can be worn very formally with a navy suit for a board meeting as well as with a pair of stonewashed jeans on the weekend.
That in our industry there is no secret sauce for success. You have to continuously strive for excellence in all aspects of your business. With incremental improvements in many areas, you can create a multiplying effect for growth and long term value.
We just recently launched our new Elfvik Chelsea boots, but we are always innovating new products with some very interesting launches coming soon. Ultimately we want to continue making handcrafted footwear more available and while we have a solid foundation in our home market Sweden, we can see increased traction from abroad which is also very exciting.
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