Published on May 16th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Alexandre Benaim On How MOBS Footwear Makes Shoes That Are Functional, Stylish & Unisex
Founded by Alexandre Benaim, the shoes produced by MOBS Footwear aim to be simultaneously chic, fashionable, affordable and functional. MOBS has been tagged as being based on “mobility, optimism, beauty and soul,” but just as interesting to this writer is that MOBS Footwear’s current collection of shoes is fully unisex. MOBS makes slip-on styles, in addition to boots, low treads and high tops of various materials (e.g. leather), truly ensuring that there is something for everyone.
On behalf of The Hype Magazine, I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Benaim himself about the past, present and future of MOBS Footwear, which was designed by former associates of from Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, and Nike. More on the acclaimed brand can be found at www.mobsdesign.com.
What is it that makes your shoes so comfortable?
Alexandre Benaim: Making shoes is actually a more complicated process than most people probably realize, especially when you get into all of the engineering that goes into most sneakers these days.
Although our designs reflect a minimal, classic look, we are using the same technical interior constructions as any athletic brand. This is one major point of difference between MOBS and much of our competition. The built-in comfort of the product comes from taking internal components from shoes designed for “performance” and using them as the base for something that reads more “fashion casual.”
From a product philosophy, the bigger factors are that we’re building the collection to accessorize everyday clothing and working with more of a contemporary designer or near luxury mindset. This allows us to use more luxurious materials throughout the shoe. The naturally-tanned leather that we use to line the shoes from heel to toe is of a better quality than some brands use for their uppers. We even use this material on the thermoformed foot bed across collection.
What came first when coming up with your shoes: the comfort or the design?
Alexandre Benaim: Oh yeah, that’s basically the “form or function,” “chicken or the egg,” “nature vs nurture,” “genetics or environment” — maybe those last two are the same — philosophical question of all design. It’s a totally-imperfect formula but both are 100 percent parts of our total consideration.
As far as what has a bigger impact on the final product? We say a lot in strategy meetings that comfort is not something that we lead with or talk about implicitly as no one really sets out to make uncomfortable shoes. But the fact that MOBS shoes end up feeling really good over a long day of wear has everything to do with the way that they are designed.
As we already talked about, we’re starting with inherently-comfortable technologies to make a product that’s meant to be traveled in. If we were trying to make 120 mm women’s dress pumps — which the team has done — we would have a bigger challenge as far as the comfort of the final shoe. But yeah, design is where it starts.
Where did the idea for unisex shoes come from?
Alexandre Benaim: Athletic sneakers are, by definition, functional and don’t really carry any specific gender orientation. Essentially, it’s always been a function of most companies to actually make unisex product and just change the colors to differentiate the same shoe for men from women’s.
From a fashion standpoint, sneakers have morphed from athletic performance to everyday casual and we’re again seeing a moment where trainers all over the runway. High fashion has become streetwear and streetwear has itself become unisex. It’s just the natural progression of things.
Do you have a favorite of the MOBS styles available?
Alexandre Benaim: It’s always slightly impossible to choose between your kids but probably the Tread High. It was one of the first patterns on the drawing board and is such an emblematic silhouette. I would have to pick this one to represent MOBS if I had to choose.
Is MOBS the first footwear-related company you have been a part of?
Alexandre Benaim: I designed a small, couture women’s collection before starting MOBS.
What is coming up for MOBS in the coming months? Any new products or campaigns?
Alexandre Benaim: There’s so much happening! We have a new construction with two new patterns that will be on site the next month, and fall ’18 goes live mid-summer.
Expect to see updates on our classic patterns and some great seasonal product in that collection including a couple of outdoor/trail inspired silhouettes. For next year, we are working on a collection that takes us back to our roots.
When not busy with work, how do you like to spend your free time?
Alexandre Benaim: I’m very lucky to have been able to travel the world and continue to enjoy it. Every trip is a cultural adventure with a lesson to learn. Close to home in L.A., I stay in shape by running the canyons near my house and snowboard whenever I can. My wife Veronique, who is also my business partner, and I just had our second child. I am blessed to have an amazing family and they keep me busy.
What was the last concert you attended for fun?
Alexandre Benaim: Literally just got back from Coachella 2018. It was all incredible, but we really loved The Weeknd, Beyoncé, and Eminem.
Finally, Alex, any last words for the kids?
Alexandre Benaim: I love my job and I’m happy to have the best team. Without them, nothing would have been possible.