In a world full of fast fashion, brands that still manufacture their products in the USA are few and far between. As a brand who have proudly made all of our clothing in the USA for the past 10 years, we love to work with brands who also have this sense of pride in keeping alive the made in America tradition. In that search, we came across luxury sneaker brand, Opie Way, founded in 2019 by husband/wife duo, Justin & Amanda James. After years of learning and a passion to make a luxury footwear brand in America, the brand was born.
We will be working with Opie Way on a custom CMMP silhouette that will be part of our ready-to-wear collection along with some made-to-measure silhouettes that will be available in all of our showrooms.
CMMP: How did Opie Way come to be and why did you start the brand?
OW: I (Justin) tell people all the time, if you would have asked me in middle school what I was going to do for a living, I would have told you I was going to design for Nike. I was always infatuated with sneakers. I followed that dream of design through college. I realized that mass-manufacturing (fast fashion) was dirty, lacked integrity and was something that got scrubbed out of the marketing of the product. Aside from manufacturing outside of the country, manufacturing on a mass scale took my dream away. I followed a different career path but quickly found that I wasn't truly happy, so I decided to make shoes for myself. I spent hours and any money I had purchasing old machines and moving them into our garage. It became a passion project and I trained myself little by little how to make shoes. At the same time I saw clothing and denim brands beginning to pop up with the interest in selvedge denim in NC. I began formulating an idea to build luxury sneakers in small batches for people who followed the denim/fashion world. In 2018 I got a message from a friend I had met in LA who was selling a micro-factory for leather and sneakers. We took an entire year to figure out if it was possible, and in early 2019 we purchased our first set of machines from LA and brought them back to NC - where we spent 8 months building our first models and a team that could make them with us.
CMMP: It's hard to find a shoe company these days still creating stuff here in the US, why was that such an important part of your brand?
OW: The art of making a shoe - especially a sneaker - is almost completely gone here in the US. Our factory is only a two hour drive from the last Converse factory in America that shut down in the early 2000s. To us - it only made sense to make sneakers here. We love Italian sneakers - and so do so many people here in the US - but we also have some of the best tanneries in the world right here - and the ability to make a luxury brand close to home. It's a crazy idea to make shoes here because it's expensive - but it's also important that someone actually figures it out. Our sneakers are made with American hands and non automated machines with insane attention to detail and the best materials we can source.
CMMP: What is the process of creating each silhouette? How many hands touch each shoe during the production process being a handmade shoe?
OW: We design, sample, pattern, cut, sew and ship from our factory in North Carolina with a small team of shoe experts. Each design starts with a sketch that gets turned into a pattern. We cut leather or textiles by hand, with cutting dies or on a cutting table to then be assembled and stitched in the same factory. Each shoe can contain up to 25 pieces/components per shoe and follows up to 72 steps per pair. Each pair of sneakers will work through 6 different stages and takes about a week of work from start to finish.
CMMP: What's next for Opie Way? Any plan to expand the line or focus on certain silhouettes going forward?
OW: We're going to push ourselves this year with some bigger projects in hopes to scale out manufacturing. We've had a few different models waiting to be released and we're excited to plan those out over S/S and F/W seasons. Our production should see some significant growth and we'll be bringing in quite a bit of customization options to our line.