Though many initially balk at the $US400 price tag on these plain white sneakers, they soon end up lusting after a pair.
Common Projects has that effect on people.
The company — which makes everything from a signature white low-top to a black combat boot — stands out in the oversaturated sneaker world with minimalist design and the promise of better construction and materials.
Founded by magazine art director Peter Poopat and brand consultant Flavio Girolami, the goal of the brand is simple: create the perfect sneaker, which Poopat and Girolami envision as minimalist and high-quality.
This understated style is what sets the brand’s designs apart from widely loved sneakers like Converse All Stars and Stan Smiths. Yet it’s those exact shoes that have helped inspire the Common Projects aesthete.
The minimalistic design is broken only by 10 gold numbers, which represent the article number, size, and colour. This has since become the brand’s signature and appears on all of its shoes — but the numbers aren’t permanent and can easily be rubbed off.
All Common Project shoes (men’s and women’s styles) are made in an Italian footwear factory in the Marche region of Italy, which made only leather dress shoes before Common Projects asked it to manufacture sneakers, according to Business of Fashion. The shoes are made of Italian leather and are stitched by hand.
All of this adds up to a shoe people are going crazy for.
A spokesperson for the company — which only sells shoes — told Business of Fashion that it currently does “roughly $US10 million” in annual sales. No one can accurately pin down the used market for Common Projects shoes, but most previously-owned or resale shoes go for $US250 to $US300, a definite indicator of a strong demand.
Critics have also praised the shoe’s simple design. GQ has featured a Common Projects design as its “Shoe of the Week” twice — once in 2014 (the B-Ball Low in navy) and once in in 2011 (the white Achilles low).
But the brand wasn’t an overnight success. It launched in 2004 with only one shoe, because that was its initial mission: to make one perfect shoe. That shoe is now known as the ever-popular Achilles. At it’s launch, the Achilles retailed for $US265 — a loss, when materials and other costs were taken into account.
Flash forward to today and merchants are lining up to stock the $US400 shoe, primarily fuelled by the Internet’s menswear blog Hypebeast.
“Hypebeast, Selectism, all those guys, I think it’s amazing,” Poopat told Business of Fashion. “The men’s market has blown up and we have to thank the Internet for a lot.”
Over time, the company has built up both stockists and fans (who affectionately call the sneakers “CPs”). They have become the identifiable minimalist leather sneaker. So much so, that when Adidas came out with an all-white colorway of its famous Stan Smith, Internet commenters accused Adidas of copying Common Projects’ signature Achilles shoe.
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