Awl & Sundry is a startup that allows users to custom make shoes. Right from choosing the style of shoe to the shape, material, stitch and size, Awl & Sundry let's you customize every detail. The name of the company is a play on the English expression "All & Sundry" which means for everyone and "Awl" is a tool used to stitch the upper of the shoe to the sole signifying the Hand Welt construction process (used for all A&S shoes). Their mission is to democratize the luxury of bespoke fashion.
And why are they doing it?
We are a group of creatively inspired shoe hounds who have witnessed a disturbing disconnection in the market place. On the one hand the bejeweled selection of luxury brands crafting shoes with a high degree of skill and devotion. A construct of traditional craftsmanship and fine quality resulting in a shoe that is meant to last. These products are well beyond the practical realm of most men. On the other hand an expanding legion of mass-produced shoes offering customers a moderate price and larger quantity. Unfortunately these products often lack the attention for detailing. Generally imitating but missing the essential character and durability of their handmade counterparts. Priced for the average man and marketed as high quality footwear.
Putting it very simply, Awl & Sundry wants to make customizing shoes affordable without giving up on the quality. I am not a shoe fanatic but I tried to custom make a shoe to experience the process and the number of things I could do left me pleasantly surprised. An Eldrigde/Oxford shoe with some design and the right fit would cost me $350 with shipping. The pricing still cuts out a majority of online buyers but it'll certainly have a niche market that'd like the entire experience. (traditionally, the company claims that custom making such a shoe would cost $1500)
In general I would say our customers are in the age range of 25-50 years and most of them are fashion conscious men. The total market for men's dress shoes is $7bn
Who's behind Awl & Sundry?
Nikunj Marvania is the founder and CEO of the company. Nikunj spent a couple of years in the financial services industry before deciding to move towards doing something he really enjoyed. A small team of 4 people at the moment, Awl & Sundry is headquartered in USA and ships internationally to Australia, UK and Canada.
How are the shoes made?
Once a customer places an order, the details of the order are passed on their shop in China. The craftsman make the shoes based on customer's design and specifications. Once the shoes are ready, they are shipped directly to the customer. "The whole process takes 4-5 weeks. Unlike most Chinese factories, Awl & Sundry shoes are completely handcrafted one pair at a time by our artisans,' says Nikunj.
Selling premium shoes online is not going to be an easy task. The are a number of challenges- the biggest one is fit and comfort. People would not be comfortable buying shoes online because they haven't seen or tried on the product. A&S is trying out a few things, Nikunj says,"We are doing a number of things to eliminate this concern - a) we offer 30 day exchange. b) We have secured offline partnerships with similar brands in NYC so our customers can touch and feel the product and get a better sense for the quality and craftsmanship. c) You can see the design of your shoes in real-time as you are designing your pair, this is non-existent in the existing offline world."
Website; Awl & Sundry