Wednesday, November 17, 2010

troentorp and maguba - the timeless and the bold

by frédérik sisa

This week, I continue my look at Troentorp clogs – read my previous post here – through an interview with Troentorp’s Sebastian Macliver.

What is your role with Troentorp?

I started working with my father who owns Troentorp about a year ago and my role is now to take care of the website, sales and to think of ways to develop the brand and our products.

Troentorp has been around for a long time. How has the company, and the clogs, evolved throughout the years?

Almost all models were actually designed back in the 60s and 70s for example: The Raphael clogs went in to production in 1962, the Wright clogs in 66, the Audubon clogs in 67 and the Durer clogs in 75 so I think we can say that our clogs are truly retro :)... Having said that, the comfort has improved over the years, first with the all wood “Original” bottoms and then with the softer “Ideal” bottoms that most of our customers buy today.

What is the secret to Troentorp's longevity?

We think it’s the comfort of our foot beds, the quality and our unique style with real nails. In Sweden we also offer two different types of lasts to make sure the clogs fit well.

When we read about major shoe brands with products manufactured by exploiting cheap Asian labour in very unhealthy environments, it's very disturbing for us fashionistas who want shoes that are made ethically and with sensitivity to the planet. But then we come across firms like Troentorp who manufacture their own shoes in excellent conditions, as the video on your website shows. Can you explain what Troentorp's manufacturing philosophy is? How important has it been to keep the manufacturing in Bastad instead of outsourcing it?

It has been really important to keep the quality of our clogs and we feel that having your own factory helps ensuring the quality and it also means we can make sure the production is good to the guys in the factory and the environment. We may end up doing some parts of the work in other European countries going forward but would want to either have our own production or work very closely with a partner to make sure neither the quality, working conditions or the environment suffers.

What is Troentorp's experience with selling and marketing clogs in the US versus Europe? Given your company's long history, how do you think European and North American fashions have, in their own ways, made the clog an icon?

We have actually always sold quite well in the USA and have a lot of American customers that have been using our clogs for 20 – 30 years. I think we managed to keep sales especially in Scandinavia and the USA because people like the fit and the comfort of our clogs.

What's next for Troentorp? Do you have any new styles planned - a ventilated clog for men, perhaps?

Yes we have a few models on their way. We are doing the final modelling work to a Troentorp clog boot and some new sandal models. We are aiming to commit to develop one new model per month after the New Year and also to expand the color options available.

Sebastian isn’t only involved with Troentorp, however; he’s launched a brand called Maguba, ostensibly geared towards the younger set although I prefer to think of it as the young-at-heart set. However you call it, one thing’s for certain: Maguda offers energetic clogs in the $120 range with vibrant colours and shapes, a rebuttal to the misconception of clogs as stuffy footwear. And especially exciting for clog-lovin’ ladies: create your own Magubas by choosing an overall style and colours for the soles and uppers.

How did "friends from Sweden, Italy, and Mexico" come together and create Maguba?
When I started Maguba two of my flat mates from Mexico and Italy here in London helped me a lot. They are now working with other things but we still meet up all the time and I often ask for their advice.
What did you have to do to go from concept to production?
Well I am pretty lucky in that I grew up with my father’s clog factory next to our house so when we started working with the first Maguba collection I had access to the factory and the knowledge of several guys who have been working with clogs for over 30 and even 40 years.
So you have bright and colourful clogs for young and young-at-heart women, but not for guys. It is a matter of preference or is it just the case that there's a stronger market for women?
We would love to do a men’s collection in the future but so far there just hasn’t been time. We have definitely felt that the market for women has been much stronger.

In creating Maguba, when did you decide to make the environment a key value?

It is just something we think is important so it was clear from the beginning and we are continuing to look at ways to improve with the materials we use and packaging.

What's next for Maguba? Can we get a sneak peek of what the future has in store?

We are just starting to work on the collection for next fall now so I can’t tell you much at the moment :). I have sent you some pictures of the spring collection instead.
(Maguba: Monaco clog - the fresh, modern simplicity of the lines and the cutout makes for a very attractive clog.)

(Maguba: Paris clog - the rib-like effect makes it a clog for land sharks, and I mean that entirely in a good way. This clog offers lots of visual dazzle.)

Between Troentorp’s enduring classics and Maguba’s bold modern sensibilities, clog fans have some great options to choose from to fit their own personal style. Many thanks to Sebastian for insight into a classic brand and for the introduction to a hip new brand.

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