words by Dersu Rhodes photos by Dean Bradshaw
I have reached a time in my life where I am confronted by a fashion/personality/lifestyle/age crisis. Sounds complicated and dramatic but it’s really very simple. The look I have at my age doesn’t really cater to being active in the way that I love to be. For example, I choose to dress more maturely than I did in high school and college; stylish sweaters, selvedge denim or slim fit chino’s, more premium jackets, even putting thought in my socks. Then it comes to the shoes, and that’s where the first world crisis begins. I have japanese loafers with no support, leather boots with a heal that kill my back and that I have no chance in hell being able to skate in, and my Nike’s and skate shoes look like I’m on my way to a high school dance and although they are comfortable, no one takes me serious in them, especially in a mature business environment. Cue Cordwain, a Los Angeles based footwear boutique brand slotted to change the game of footwear forever.
I fail in hiding my excitement as I pull on a pair of the Camel Rookwood’s. The lead designer, owner, and mastermind behind Cordwain Zac Andrews has a calm satisfied look on his face as he watches me try them on. He believes in what he has created and knows this is what myself and hundreds of thousands of fashion minded young men have been waiting for.
I stand in them and walk around the room. First of all, they are comfortable as hell. The footbed is soft and cradles my foot, while the arch and ankle support feels reassuring and safe. Looking down at them, they have the silhouette of a dress shoe or boot, yet feel masculine and durable. The materials are plush and buttery to the touch and I have a hard time to deciding which shoe color I like more between the black and tan.
Now it’s time for the real test. I grab my skate and walk outside. I run a few steps, let the back of the board drag along the concrete, then drop the wheels down on to the sidewalk stepping on to the board in one motion. With the first few kicks, I’m already in love, and I rip through the Venice streets weaving around potholes and a guy searching for something he lost in a trash can like these shoes have been with me on a thousand rides. I come back around the block and kick up the board and head back inside. For me, these are the missing link. They are formal enough to come with me into the most crucial meetings of my professional career, yet skating on the street they look edgy and contemporary. They are the chameleon missing piece of the puzzle. I don’t have to leave behind my youth and they fit with the evolution of my style.
I don’t really think I need to say anything else. Zac has nailed it; from the design, to the branding, to the packaging, to the development (he’s hired genius veteran Reef, DC shoes developer Cody Yen to put it all together and deal with production) to the marketing by brilliant advertising photographer Dean Bradshaw and site development by local agency Willa.
I hope you enjoy the images we’ve provided from the first seasons look book as well as product shots from the season premier launch. The store is live and I recommend a visit, make sure you vote on the next season, find your favorites, and pre order a pair to be delivered right to your door. It’s brands like Cordwain that make me proud to live in California.