Tuesday, November 17, 2009

a few words with Tessa Clogs

by frédérik sisa

In the world of footwear, clogs don’t get much respect. Even the name doesn’t often strike awe in the hearts of fashionistas. Stiletto. Espadrille. Gladiator. Mocassin. Brogues. Wingtips. Claaawwwwwggs…see?

But the humble clog, while not for all fashion types, is easily underestimated. Not only is its reputation as a hard worker well-deserved, it can be a very effective item of style - as this young woman illustrates. I like clogs precisely because they aren’t aristocratic. They have a certain proletarian quality that comes across as bohemian and down-to-earth. Clogs are not pretentious. And practical? Oh yes. Clogs are comfortable footwear with the substance of a shoe but the ease of a slide.

A surprise is that while clogs are typically relegated to the fringes, Big Fashion will, on occasion, take notice, as in the case of Karl Lagerfeld’s playful and refined work on the Chanel Spring 2010 collection. Stylin’!! Check it out:

(Image from style.com)

You don’t have to look to Chanel, however, if you want clogs suited to your own personal style. If you’re not in the mood for the straightforward style offerings of big brands like Dansko and Sanita, a good option rests with clog artisans like Tessa Clogs/Swedish Clog Cabin, who offer handpainted clogs, a very nice selection of colours (even for guys), and a few innovative touches like the “Tessa Straps.” I can’t speak from personal, hands-on experience, but I love their online catalog and the shoes have gotten rave reviews elsewhere on the web (see here, for example) So, to learn a bit more about these clog crafters, I had a friendly little eMail chat with Chris and Tessa Manning, owners of Tessa Clogs/Swedish Clog Cabin.

What made you decide to open a store focused on clogs?

Tessa (who is from the south of Sweden) and I (from the Midwest with Swedish Grandparents) met in 1993. After a trip to Sweden to visit relatives in 1994 we came back wearing hand painted clogs made in Tessa's home town. After wearing them around town and having so many people comment on them, we decided that we should begin to import them. So in 1994, we began to work with a few different manufacturers in Sweden and brought them here to Vail. When our shipments would arrive, Tessa then would spend evenings painting them up and selling them to Vail locals and stores in town. From here, we continued to grow selling locally and nationally at other fine boutiques. 1998 was when we opened up our first Swedish Clog Cabin and in 2000 we moved to our current location, downtown Vail approximately 100 yards from the ski lifts.
The Tessa Straps are a nice touch...what's the story behind them?

We know that people like to accessories and we continued to brain storm over how we could do this with our clogs. After playing around one day with straps, we came up with the idea of having an interchangeable strap and the Tessa Snap Strap was born. What is fantastic about this idea is that a person can have one pair of clogs but change the look by just changing our snap strap.

I'm picturing a town full of people wearing clogs...How are your clients, especially your fellow residents of Vail, incorporating clogs into their wardrobe?

Being a mountain town, we have a casual, fresh, hip, funky, bohemian style that we all live. So our locals and guests tend to wear our Tessa Clogs all season, dressed up and dressed down. You can see Tessa Clogs being worn by all sorts of folks: from men tuning skis here in town to some great celebs in NYC wearing them out on the town. What is so fun to see, is all of our
returning guests coming in to get there new pair of Tessa Clogs when they are visiting.

What advice do you have for someone who may have never worn clogs before but is curious to try?

Tessa Clogs are a wonderful addition to your life. Of course we all want the fashion but sometimes we forget about the comfort. All feet are different but the shape of our sole has been made for an anatomically correct position. So when your feet slide in, the position that they are put into is one that can be comfortable for all day standing and walking. If you ever take a peek at folks that are on the feet for hours on end, they are wearing clogs - and we are trying to get the world to wear Tessa Clogs :-)

Many thanks to Chris and Tessa for their time answering my questions!

As for you lot, dear readers, if you’re not exhausted by Aqua’s rapid-fire interrogation in her last post, sound off below…do you wear clogs? How do you keep it stylish?

One more thing: if you do choose to get yourself a pair of Tessa Clogs, please drop me a line and let me know!


Eli said...

that is so cool! clogs trancend ages and were once necessary! thank you for leaving such a nice comment on my blog :) I'll be frequenting yours as well

Frederik Sisa said...

Thanks, Eli. Much appreciated! And it's a pleasure to read your blog, so leaving a nice comment was easy. :)

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