Taking Tofers from idea to reality was no small feat (pun intended).
The original concept for the first smoking slipper was rather simple - a luxurious, versatile shoe at a non-luxury price while ensuring extreme comfort and breathability with a laser focus on sustainability throughout... all in the name of looking sharp without feeling guilty about the impact my choices were having on the planet.
The footwear design process for Tofers was rigorous to say the least, but it looked like this in its simplest form:
- Ideation: the original idea for the shoe, and what would make it different and better from everything else on the market today - from styling to components and the mission behind the brand
- Sketching: I teamed up with an incredibly talented footwear designer to take my idea and put it on paper, getting the right look & feel while balancing form & function - think colors, sole shape, toe shape, etc.
- Creating the Tech Pack: in working with that same footwear designer, we took our sketches to a blueprint level - something which a factory would ultimately interpret and translate into a physical shoe
- Finding a Sourcing Agent: I scoured the landscape, interviewing seasoned "agents" in Portugal & Spain to find my ideal partner, who would be my boots on the ground to make it all happen. I ultimately went with an experienced agent in Portugal with ties to innovative, ethical, and sustainable partners within the country, minimizing the distance my components would need to travel in the supply chain
- Sourcing Components: working with my agent we identified the most sustainable components possible without compromising on the integrity of the shoe. This goes beyond our vegetable tanned leathers & recycled rubber soles, to the things you probably don't even think/know about in your shoes like our robust insole board (no metal shank), stitching material (cotton, not polyester), and stiffeners (cotton woven instead of pure thermoplastics) which help maintain the shape of the shoe
- Prototyping: we took our consciously selected components to our ethical factory partner to painstakingly prototype the shoe, providing continuous feedback on look, fit, and feel iterating continuously until we reached perfection
- Production: with our final prototype, it's time to start producing and getting them out to customers (coming later this year!)
That's the 10,000ft view of the Tofers journey, sustainably modernizing our first timeless shoe (the smoking slipper), to create a ridiculously handsome & comfortable shoe consciously designed to be the most sustainable offering on the market.
I would be doing a disservice to leave out everything else happening in parallel - designing eco-friendly lightweight packaging, choosing the perfect non-profit partner to support the planet with every sale, offsetting the Tofers carbon footprint, and building the Tofers following.
All of this, so that you may wear Tofers out into the world, guilt-free and proud of the minimal footprint you leave behind.
P.S. I will deep dive into each of items above in future posts.