Studio Hagel explains what the launch of its sneaker brand means
Studio Hagel, the highly respected concept studio run by Mathieu Hagelaars, is launching its own shoe brand.
The studio has come a long way since its first MakersMonday™ series, which made Studio Hagel a place of inspiration for other designers, creatives and brands. Today, the eponymous brand represents a natural step in the evolution of the Studio.
Hagelaars’ plan has always been to one day launch its own brand and bring products to market that were not made to order or for other brands: “In 2017 or 2016, we started making our own prototypes. And people always ask me if they can buy them,” says Hagelaars. “But I always said no, because I’m not a customizer. I’m a designer and it’s a design studio.
This approach meant that Hagelaars and his team wanted to bide their time and ensure the brand was fully formed before anything fell.
“The idea behind the brand is to combine the design philosophies of the whole studio, of the whole team,” he says. “All of the designs we create, we use our MakersMonday as a point of reference.”
The first sneaker, named Hagel Shroud, is actually inspired by the very first MakersMonday™ product, a remixed Nike Cortez, which features a shroud.
“The overall design is inspired by car hoods and seatstays. And we wanted people to see that the design started from [this MakersMonday Cortez], but we didn’t just want to copy the original,” Hagelaars points out. “We wanted to go even further.”
And push further than they did. The sneaker bears a subtle resemblance to the Cortez – mostly on the overall shape – but is packed with details and features that allow it to proudly present itself as its own design.
One of them is a double injection outsole, which Hagelaars says has never been done before. “It’s a direct injected outsole, then we have a second layer inspired by ice cleats, which have also been used before in MakersMonday,” he reveals.
Another nod to MakersMonday™ is the imperfect outsole tread, which has been deliberately made slightly uneven, to replicate hints of slight imperfections found in early Studio Hagel concepts.
If you flip the sneaker, which is made from high-quality ECCO leather, you’ll see a small gap on the outsole, through which you can see the profile of the original Nike Cortez. It’s thoughtful details like this that elevate the sneaker and justify its €450 price tag.
Obviously, launching a own brand is filled with different challenges and opportunities than working with third-party clients. One of them is that there are fewer borders.
“We can do whatever we want, which is amazing, but it’s also your own worst enemy in a way,” admits Hagelaars. “We have to think, ‘Okay, what exactly is Hagel? What are the things we want to do?” And then you have to apply that to the product.
No limits are undoubtedly a luxury, but Hagelaars and his team definitely took their time with the product to ensure it was the best it could be. The Hagel sneaker took a year and a half to design and produce. ECCO, which operates as much of a material innovation company as a shoe brand, gave Studio Hagel the opportunity to partner with its factory. The two brands had often worked together in the past, so the relationship was already strong.
In the end, ECCO’s experience and production know-how, combined with Studio Hagel’s revolutionary design philosophy and a fresh approach to footwear, proved to be a powerful combination.
The sneaker gives the community something new, while sticking to one of its most iconic designs from the Nike Cortez. Quality, craftsmanship and conscious design are hallmarks of Studio Hagel’s first shoe. This is a design by sneakerheads for sneakerheads.
The fact that this year is the 50th anniversary of the Cortez wasn’t even part of the plan, just coincidentally. ” I am happy to hear that. I didn’t know that at all,” smiles Hagelaars. “The only thing I know is that I really like the Cortez and I also really like the shroud we created for our shoe.”
We’re sure there will be plenty of people out there who will also love the Cortez and car inspired Hagel Shroud.