Skoaktiebolaget.com is probably the most stylish online men’s shoe store in the world. It was founded in 2013 as a spin-off from a brick and mortar shoe store in Stockholm. Skoaktiebolaget offers a wide and unique selection of classic men’s shoes, boots and accessories. Patrik Löf, the founder and owner of the store, has kindly agreed to give me an interview. Here it is.
Hello Patrik. What have inspired you to found Skoaktiebolaget.com?
From the beginning, Skoaktiebolaget was just a brick and mortar store. The online store is a spin-off of the physical store, located in one of the more affluent areas in Stockholm. I have for many, many years appreciated and loved European crafted classic shoes – but the availability was very limited for these goods in Stockholm (and Sweden). Therefore I decided to bring these artisan products to Stockholm by opening Skoaktiebolaget. I wanted to introduce more quality and artisanship to my city.
Do you plan to expand the range of shoes and accessories?
Yes, we are looking at some very interesting things to present during Spring 2018. I think many people will appreciate what we are working on.
What are essential features of high quality shoes and boots, according to your opinion?
Quality is a thing that is very hard to define. Is quality that the product will last for decades or that it is also a thing of beauty? Quality is very different from one person to another. What I like personally in a pair of shoes is the following: artisanship (the level of handcrafting involved might not increase quality but is still an important feature in my opinion), aesthetics and long-term durability.
Do you feel the difference between Goodyear welted and hand-welted shoes? Should high quality shoes be almost completely handmade or it’s not necessary?
It is not always necessary from a quality perspective. You can have wonderful machine-made shoes; like Gaziano & Girling and John Lobb ready-to-wear. Just because it’s hand-welted, like for example Enzo Bonafé and Vass, does not necessarily mean that the quality is better. I personally appreciate it a lot, because I very much respect the craft and the artisans.
What do you think about Austrian and Hungarian shoes? I know that you offer St. Crispin’s shoes, but what about more conservative brands from these countries?
I have very little personal experience of the Austro-Hungarian school of shoemaking apart from StC. Also, I’m not sure they are the best representative for the region as I think Michael Rollig (founder of StC) has had a lot of influences from Italy. In my opinion StC shoes are more elegant than traditional Austro-Hungarian shoes.
Are there good shoemakers in Sweden, if we are talking about classic shoes for men?
We have two of the best bespoke shoemakers in the world in Sweden; one is my friend Daniel Wegan (Gaziano & Girling) and the other is Janne Melkersson. But we do not have any ready-to-wear Goodyear welted shoemakers producing shoes in Sweden.
Why doesn’t Skoaktiebolaget.com offer galoshes?
We do, but only in store currently. I’m of the opinion that galoshes, if worn improperly, can damage your shoes. What happens is that people are careless and get gravel inside the galoshes and do not notice and then they damage their uppers by the gravel rubbing against the uppers. Instead of galoshes, I personally advocate the use of sturdier shoes during winter. We carry several dressy shoes with a sturdy rubber sole, and dressy boots with rubber soles that can be worn with a suit.
Personally, I wear fur lined Saint Crispin’s boots with heavy rubber soles during winter, even at the office. If the quality of the shoe and the fur is good, your feet won’t get clammy even indoors.
What shoes (I mean style and color) do you think are essential, so they should be in a wardrobe of every man?
I personally believe that no man should be without a pair of dark brown and a pair of black plain cap toe Oxfords. If they live in a climate like we have in Sweden and Russia, they could be fitted with a rubber sole. Also, I think that a high boot is necessary in our climate, preferably one you can wear with both a suit and jeans; like a Balmoral Boot in dark brown or black. Long term though, I would seriously recommend everyone to invest in at least 6-7 high quality shoes. Rotating shoes does wonders for the longevity.
What styles and colours of shoes do you prefer? What are your favorite shoes?
I am a very big fan of brown and mid-brown Oxford shoes. I prefer Oxfords. But I also have a weak spot for “Lazyman’s Oxfords” which is technically a slip-on and not an Oxford.
All photos by Skoaktiebolaget.com