Sole trader: FEIT’s handcrafted footwear takes a principled stance
A career that begins without a formal education, veers into streetwear and curves towards handcrafted leather footwear may seem an unlikely one, but for Tull Price it was a natural arc. ‘There’s an emphasis on trying to create fresh, interesting, and unique product’, he explains. ‘Early in my career, this was done mainly via innovative styling and design; more recently my focus has been on refinement, materials, and construction.’
Price’s shoes and accessories brand FEIT – co-founded in 2005 with his brother Josh – reflects that evolution towards what he calls ‘neoluxury’. His initial fascination for globalisation left him feeling disenfranchised after selling his first label; now, Price is ‘moving away from volume and excess and towards quality, sustainability, and the pursuit of product integrity.’
The label uses vegetable tanned leathers and cork
Price pushed forward with his conscientious idea after learning through practice and under the guidance of mentors. He has spent the last ten years in Europe, learning about traditional shoemaking and tanning – not an uncomplicated path, hence the label’s name. ‘FEIT is a homonym for fight,’ the entrepreneur explains. ‘The name was created to describe an individual’s fight for growth, evolution, and success; whatever that means to them within their life.’
FEIT elevates the ’Made in China’ concept by employing highly skilled people in the region. ‘To have something done completely by hand in this day and age is very rare,’ says Price. ‘We have been able to assemble and train possibly the largest group of hand sewers capable of creating shoes in this manner; we now have approximately 100 people based in a small town in southern China.’
Highly skilled sewers in southern China craft FEIT’s footwear by hand
And there’s no cutting corners either: the artisans work with natural materials only. Vegetable tanned cowhides – a by-product of the meat industry – are incorporated from the outsoles to the laces. Natural cork is used for a layer of the sole, as is bamboo shank stabiliser. The outsoles are buffalo leather, the thread is rubber and a vegetable tanned leather strip envelops the sole.
FEIT’s trademark seamless one-piece upper, hand-stitched at the heel, is based on a set of lasts built in 2005 with Tuscan master last-maker, the 96-year-old Verdichio Padrone. As a result of this construction, they take on the shape of the wearer, making both the classic and athletic versions of FEIT footwear equally comfortable.