Vegan Kicks recently had the pleasure of chatting with Marion Hanania, creator of vegan shoe brand Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather. If you are not familiar with Good Guys, you should definitely check them out. They offer a wide variety of fashionable shoes for men and women, all vegan and sweatshop free. They are a “PETA Approved Vegan” company and have received multiple awards from PETA for their good work – “Best Mens Shoes” and “Vegan Brand to Keep An Eye On in 2015.”
Without further ado, Marion:
VK: When did you first have the idea for Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather, and what made you decide to make that idea a reality?
MH: I started the brand in 2010 after 8 years working as a freelance for other brands, always as a shoe designer. In 2006 I became vegetarian and I decided that I wanted to keep on doing my work as a shoe-designer but bring my own philosophy into it, which means not using animal skin for a start then it led to be eco-friendly and fair-trade.
VK: So you have a fashion/design background prior to Good Guys?
MH: Yes I do, I worked for Isabel Marant, Dévastée, Ventilo, Pablo Gérad Darel etc… I created my own brand when I was freshly graduated from fashion school, my brand was called Marion Hanania Paris and l was part of the prestigious selection of designers to exhibit my work at the Fashion Festival of Hyeres in 2005. I also had a brand called E&M (T-shirts with cool drawings) with my twin sister Estelle for a while when we were 21-22 years old and we sold them in Japan and France etc…
VK: Do you design the shoes yourself?
MH: Yes I do, I studied fashion design in Paris at L’école Duperré. I graduated and started to work as an assistant at ELLE magazine in France, then I created my own eponymous line of shoes that lasted for 3 years called Marion Hanania Paris and then after that I collaborated with La Redoute and all the brands mentioned above.
VK: What is the design process like? How long does the process take from the original drawing to the final product?
MH: As soon as one collection is done I start thinking a little bit everyday about what I will draw next and I keep having ideas, through my travels, people I meet, the lifestyle I live (traveling a lot) and some ideas stick around and they are usually the best ones.
I can work for a weeks on the designs, sketching and researching materials and details. Then I look at the sketches I drew the day before and I think about them, redraw them a lot and picture how we could fit them in the collection and if they have the Good Guys‘ “touch” 🙂 Then I send to my supplier all the final drawings and all the details attached to them (files with laces, material, sole, lining information) so they can start working on them. I usually go to Portugal where the shoes are made to check the samples and work on them with the supplier.
VK: Where did the idea for the name come from?
MH: I started the brand with two other partners (they left the project after the first season) and the name was so obviously the best that even after brainstorming for days we just stick with it. It was inspired by a Minor Threat song called “Good Guys Don’t Wear White.”
MH: I am an illustrator and painter too (marionhanania.com and mayonsdogportraits.com) so I designed the logo for Good Guys with the help of my life partner David Ivar who is a wonderful musician and graphic artist too. I designed the box also but this time I asked Anne-Marie Jones a young artist from UK to interpret in her own style the logo with dogs and shoes. She came up with this lovely illustration and I created an all-over pattern for the box cap with it, and we made socks out of it too.
VK: How soon after starting the brand did you start to see growth? What would you say has been the most significant factor in the brand’s growth to date?
MH: Since I started Good Guys, it has been growing non-stop, not like crazy growth but significantly. Japan was a BIG help in the brand evolution and financial growth. The first season we worked together with my distributor in Japan we sold 2000 pairs through them in Japan only. Then it slowed down a little but it helped me gain a good reputation in Japan and it helped me financially when I needed it the most at the very beginning.
That’s all for our chat with Good Guys, thanks to Marion for taking the time to talk to us.
Look for more from Good Guys Don’t Wear Leather on Vegan Kicks soon, including the release of their Spring/Summer 2016 collection, as well possible savings and a giveaway for Vegan Kicks readers!