In Antwerp, where better than a disused diamond cutting factory to set up a company with like-minded friends? For WeberHodelFeder, a footwear brand named after its three founders’ last names, the Flemish city, with its celebrated history and vibrant party scene, was more than just a practical choice.
The self-professed ‘outsider’ trio, of the Germans Matthias Weber, Florian Feder and the Swiss Niklaus Hodel, all had professional careers of their own before entering the city’s acclaimed Royal Academy of Fine Arts’ Fashion Department. As a result, 'each of us contributes with a specific skill set', says Weber, responding to how the exchange of ideas between the three best friends takes place.
WeberHodelFeder were scooped up by seminal footwear store Coccodrillo before even having properly set up their company, and the success of their signature men’s Velcro shoe was so big with both genders that they were convinced to produce them in smaller sizes for women.
Fixated on creating 'objects that have a story to tell, or even better that stimulate one’s fantasy in order to invent a story', WHF 'strives for the perfect mistake in our design'. 'We take inspiration from something flawless,' Weber continues, 'mix it with something not necessarily matching, change the personality of the object into something that ideally hasn’t existed before.'
For A/W 2016, they take that concept further. 'For the first time we worked with existing garments, cutting them apart or recreating a first prototype of a loafer that we had flipped inside out,' Weber explains. 'The "battle memories" – doodle prints – are inspired by a beautiful book that Matthias found, with photographs of soldier’s graffiti on canvas bags documenting their drawn talismans and stories of victory and loss.'
The scans through which the collection is rendered in the lookbook is the trio's comment on how 'we are so used to see fashion in small scale on tiny screens until we actually go to the store', Weber concludes. 'The idea was to show the details of our shoes in their actual size without any distraction by other clothing.'