From the traditional versions featuring low-heels and multiple pieces of sturdy leather with 'broguing' perforations, and serrations along the visible edges, to more modern, sleek versions with no detailing at all, the humble brogue appears to have seen it all — but may-be not what ECCO has decided to do.
When challenged to reduce the weight of the normally heavy leather sole, and increase the fit and comfort, the team at ECCO MEN'S Division were inspired. Using innovative ECCO FLUIDFORM™ Technology, they saw an opportunity to create a new shank, suspended welt, and strobel sock formation, that allows single density P.U to flow into the footbed of the shoe.
As an homage to traditional "Goodyear construction" used in conventional production, the forefoot is also covered in a luxurious layer of moisture-wicking cork, resulting in a perfectly designed platform that mirrors the contours of the foot, with extra support and flexibility where it matters most — at the heel.
But they didn't stop there. Keen to keep the heritage of the 'British Traditional', and balance cutting-edge innovation, they used luxurious ECCO Calf Crust aniline dyed leather uppers to bring the best of handcrafted aesthetics and modern comfort together, in a range of styles.
They were also excited to hear that their colleagues within the ECCO Shoe Design Studio were planning several casual and formal collections using the TRUE INDIGO leather, including ECCO BIOM STREET and ECCO SOFT 8, so they could work together to create a concept that showcases the uniqueness of each product and leather.
The beauty of such a leather, is that is starts as a 'nude', blank canvas that is imbued with character and drama, as the dye is applied by hand to the finished shoe. Requiring many years of training, and high levels of artisan skill that can't easily be faked.
Daisy Chen, ECCO Finishing Specialist, and head of the 24-strong 'Brown Shoe Team' in Xiamen, tasked with main-taining ECCO's famously rigorous production standards, says that each time new shoes like this are introduced into production, she sets about refreshing the training program, setting teams of experts, and recruiting the most accomplished artisans to ensure quality is maintained all the way down the line to the consumer.
"To be honest, the finishing is very challenging, but for us it has been extremely rewarding. We are very proud of it," Daisy says.
After brushing and dying, the leather is hand polished and buffed, one by one, to bring out the natural grain and its inherent warmth — a unique, timeless feature of classic luxury hides. But one false move, and the shoe can be ruined.
"It is kind of a hand-crafted process," Daisy says. "It really offers unique products to our consumers. This way of making a shoe brings together more people from R&D and other areas with our own teams working together, hand-in-hand, to make sure this process is well managed through production. We believe it’s the teamwork that makes the final product very special."