In our hometown of Amsterdam sneakers are kings of the streets. Everyone, from little kids to young mothers and even some stylish older people rock them, not only for their looks but also their comfort. Amsterdam is so involved in sneakers that it even has its own home-grown sneaker brands, like ETQ, Filling Pieces, and Mercer Amsterdam. We got in touch with Mercer Amsterdam’s founder, Pim Dresen, and asked what makes Mercer Amsterdam so special, what got him started in creating his own sneakers and some tips for anyone that wants to chase their own dreams.
Can you give us a little background on yourself and Mercer Amsterdam?
Mercer Amsterdam was founded by myself (Pim Dresen). My sneaker addiction started at the age of 10, when I bought my first pair in Mercer Street in Soho, New York City. After this the hoarding continued gradually until I moved to Amsterdam, where my sneaker addiction really took off. After a while I started developing my own ideas about sneakers. I did not like anyone having the same sneakers as mine plus I did not like the fit on some sneakers, so I started drawing my own sneaker whilst working in an investment bank at the same time.
What was the first pair of sneakers that started the addiction? And as a sneaker addict, what sneakers were you buying most?
My first pair I ever bough was the all-white Nike Air Force 1. A style which now I do not buy anymore because I do not like the wear and tear on the toe box, they start looking worn out after wearing them once - and this means I can only wear them once :-)
You mentioned that you started designing sneakers because you wanted a better fit and because you wanted sneakers that were unique. Can you tell us a little bit about the process of designing sneakers, having them made and selling them?
The process starts with a concept; we then go into making mood boards, what is the sneaker about - for whom, when and where? From there we start creating color concepts for each model. After this the hardest part starts - seeing how much of the concept we can actually realize in terms of sourcing materials, textiles, leathers, rubber soles etc. After this we go in to the first sample rounds where the factory draws up a first sample which we then edit with pen until finally something comes back which is to our liking. After this we apply all the materials and colors to the silhouette and after this we give it to our sales people to get some initial feedback. If the feedback is good, we might consider to include in to our season lines.
We really respect people and brands that want to do something different and live by their own rules. What tips do you have for people that want to start their own brands or companies?
This sounds cheesy, but just start. I meet a lot of people who want to do this, or want to do that but they keep on working the same dead-end job for 50 years until they retire. I quit a salary plus a bonus that was crazy for me at the time but my life did not have purpose at that time, my purpose is shoes and this is what gets me going every day. Just start your own brand, but realize you need working capital and a strong brand vision before you do anything - buyers are very critical and the market is crowded but there is always room for something new. Also do not listen to everyone trying to discourage you - they just hate because they do not dare to make the same step.
What are your thoughts on other Amsterdam based sneaker brands like Filling Pieces and ETQ?
Everybody does where their own strength lies. Our primary focus going forward is to differentiate ourselves by being not another sneaker brand from Amsterdam. The first major step towards that are our full knitted runners, which is an innovation that has been working very well for us. Another thing that we try to focus on is to never make any concessions in terms of quality - no matter how fast you grow, quality is the cornerstone of our brand, we will never use subpar materials just to make a bit more money - the brand is built on quality and we will never let this go. Also, we do it for our loyal customers who have been with us from the start - we want to continue to give them the quality they bought in to the first season.
Mercer Amsterdam recently started getting to more technical fabrics with the Wooster Knit. What made Mercer Amsterdam decide to explored knitted fabrics and how important will these become for Mercer in the future?
Knits are the future for us, extreme comfort, a tech feeling, plus the innovation it represents is amazing. Like I said before we really want to stand out from the crowd, especially in the Amsterdam scene, so we had to explore new horizons and that is how we decided to explore the knits. Going forward we will focus a lot on the knitted silhouettes because at this moment we are truly unique in doing these.
What can we look forward to coming out of Mercer Amsterdam next?
The platinum pack which will release on the 28th of July:
These are our first pair from a new factory that once produced Kris Van Assche footwear so the quality these bring are amazing, I dare anyone to compare these with the well-known luxury brands in terms of quality and finishing and everyone will see these are just twice as good as everything out there. they are limited to 100 pair per silhouette and they will only come in all white.