It’s 7pm on Saturday, and I sit in the basement of Beyond with a knife, lighter, and 60 pairs of shoes. A fluorescent light bulb swings overhead, casting long shadows into the maze of inventory stacked to all sides.
I meticulously slice a row of stitching that pins the Santiago uppers to the tongue. One cut, both sides, 120 shoes. Seven hours in, this is my last pair.
My work in the basement addresses a design flaw in an earlier iteration of the Santiago. If the upper is stitched too high to the tongue, it will be nearly impossible to slide a foot inside. We won’t sell many Santiagos if people can't get them on.
Product quality is perhaps our most enduring and consistently urgent challenge. Our entire concept rests first and foremost on the idea that Adelante shoes are better than the highest quality footwear in the market at half the price.
We can offer customization, connect our customers with their craftsmen, and be the first craft shoe company to operate made-to-order at scale. But none of that matters if our customers don’t receive the highest quality, most comfortable pair of shoes they’ve ever owned. Our quality must be a given, which is why I am completely obsessed with product.
My goal is to offer 10 exceptional styles in 2018, five targeted toward men and five toward women. If our customers continue to tell us that they love our shoes, then we’ll know that we’re on the right track.
The perfect product is nine parts aspiration, one part destination. Although I can’t imagine ever feeling we’ve arrived, I’m confident that constant vigilance and obsession over the perfect leather footwear will keep us moving in the right direction.