Sneak(er)ing into the Limelight

19 Feb 2019
5 min read

FOUR catches up with Rémy Hälg, the Designer for men’s luxury sneaker brand Rubirosa, about what makes Rubirosa’s footwear an indispensable addition to your collection.

Can you tell us a bit about the history of Rubirosa?

RUBIROSA stems from a very unique gentlemen’s club. A decade ago, a group of friends bonded over their mutual love of beautiful, high-quality products. They decided to produce a limited-run of products just for themselves, but after requests came from far and wide for their creations, they expanded its availability with the RUBIROSA brand.

Tell us more about yourself and how you got into the business of footwear design and production?

Since my childhood I have had a soft spot for art, creativity, fashion, design and aesthetics in general. In addition to my professional activities, I have always enjoyed working with the “beautiful things” of this world and have been involved in various creative projects in my spare time. One day this hobby was a dream for me to be able to make it my profession. The co-founders from RUBIROSA encouraged me to focus more on my greatest preference; -beautiful shoes. That’s how I started creating shoes for our club members.

What are your inspirations that led to Rubirosa being born?

One of my founding colleagues told us at a young age about the adventures of the former diplomat of the Dominican Republic, which motivated us to learn more about the life of the charismatic bon vivant and playboy. His fascination for style, the world of women and the beauty of life in general seemed particularly exciting to us. How did someone who had hung up his studies at renowned universities to move to the most beautiful places in the world with the most important women of his time at his side and enjoy life? It was obviously his extraordinary charm, understatement and sense of beauty that brought him a total of seven marriages with the most influential ladies of his time, with Marylin Monroe representing only one of countless lovers in between. Apparently his charm surpassed all reason, which led to none of his companions ever being able to blame him for his love of the women’s world in general.  What few know and is just as exciting – his sense for fashion had inspired his then friend Jan Fleming to the figure of James Bond.

What was your vision for Rubirosa brand when you started?

Let’s make the world of sneakers stylish for any occasion. We want to offer men with a sense of independence and quality –  a simple, everyday alternative to conventional sneakers with a demand for uniqueness and originality. Our smart, casual shoes should fill the gap between low shoes and sneakers in the wardrobe. The naturally tanned, and therefore breathable interior should provide the foot with as pleasant a climate as possible. Whether in the office or on the street.

What do you love most about your job and company?

What I like most is the creative, versatile task as a designer in itself and working together with friends towards a common goal. I am also driven by the challenge of merging elegance and sportiness in a very personal way, of perfecting something in form and material in such a way that it stands out from the conventional market.

In your opinion, what makes Rubirosa’s brand and its products so special?

Values are important to us. Among each other in the company, with the producers and of course also with the end customers. In addition to the aforementioned mixture of sportiness and elegance, comfort and quality should not be neglected. Since Porfirio Rubirosa made barefoot wearing shoes socially acceptable, all our shoes are lined with a natural-tanned inner leather to ensure the best possible foot climate. The timelessness of the design and the muted colours are subject to fashion trends only to a limited extent and therefore never go out of fashion, which offers added value not only for the environment and the wearer, but also for the retail partner. For the latter, we offer a very customer-friendly solution with direct access to our warehouse. High-quality products in timeless design already contribute to sustainability. Nevertheless, we strive to continuously optimize all our products in terms of sustainability.

What interesting trends/themes are going on in the world of footwear?

The meanwhile long-lasting sneaker trend seems to know no creativity limits with the currently rather conspicuous designs like the “ugly sneakers”. In addition to the sneaker categories “functional” and “fashion”, classic footwear will continue to exist. The lifestyle of today’s and future generations will demand more and more flexibility from the wardrobe. Many innovations in the shoe sector will also affect manufacturing technology and sustainability. For example, shoes will fit perfectly and can be produced from the 3D printer according to personal design preferences. Such innovative manufacturing techniques will certainly compete with each other, but I am sure the traditional craftsmanship and excellent climate properties of natural leather for shoe production will always be appreciated.

What inspires the design of the products?

With the demand to close the gap between sneaker and classic footwear, the right mixture of both directions is needed. So I let myself be inspired by the whole spectrum of fashion. In addition to regular visits to influential fashion cities, producers and fairs for raw materials, art and nature can also provide input for new models. In general, our smart casual shoes should be as timeless as their classic ancestors – but more versatile and comfortable.

Tell us more about your designs, what is the process that you go through when designing, producing and releasing a new product?

I have to keep myself constantly informed about where the different trends in fashion will move in the future. Classic models are often at the beginning of the process, which I try to further develop to meet the demands of today’s cosmopolitan. On moodboards, various self-made drawings are arranged together with materials and colours, which I then present to the entire team in advance of a new collection.

We have been told about your new leather/tanning combination line, could you give us some details about this?

Our absolute flagship in terms of leather is our new Odile Bog Oak. According to the leather manufacturer, RUBIROSA will be one of the first label to produce shoes with this unique BLATTWERK horse leather. The first two models are currently being tested right now and the results so far are outstanding. Horse leather is very rare these days and exceeds the demand by far. The leather is particularly resistant, very rich in fat and therefore water-repellent. The horse leather used by RUBIROSA comes from animals in Switzerland and southern Germany and is produced with the particularly gentle olive leaf tanning process, in which common salt and sulphuric acid are completely dispensed with. The tanning agent oleuropein is so pure that it is also present in extra virgin olive oil. All residues are 100% recyclable or can be reused. The waste water from the tanning process is completely purified in a purely biological sewage treatment plant. For the refinement of these leathers no conventional lacquers are used. With one of the BLATTWERK leathers, the use of dyestuffs is completely dispensed with in order to develop pure nature. After dyeing, the BLATTWERK leathers are protected against environmental influences using genuine beeswax.

What are your indispensable Rubirosa favorites?

The Odile low white, Odile low bog oak for long trousers and the Ariza Sand for shorts -depending on the outfit.  And not only shoes, but also accessories are in our collection, we also manufacture weekenders and briefcases. My Mahana wenge briefcase accompanies me step by step.

What’s next?

The upcoming Autumn/Winter collection will bring some new colours on all models, the Odile bog Oak will go into production and a completely new, sportier model, the EVA, will be presented in a high and a low version. We are also currently investigating the sustainability of all our footwear production by independent companies so that we can best align our production accordingly in the future.  

Want to find out more? Head over to Rubirosa’s website to take a look at their products.