An Interview with FU Jie, Founder of Yearn Shoemaker/SLIMSHOES

FU Jie is the founder of the SLIMSHOES brand, which was established in 2018.

SLIMSHOES/Yearn Shoemaker is a brand based in Chengdu, At present, there are two physical stores in Chengdu, and there are also online stores on Taobao. The UK haberdashery Arterton is carrying them to showcase to discerning customers in Europe.

Main players of handmade shoes in China are from Guangzhou and Shanghai (both are regions, not necessarily in this city), and as the strongest consumption city in the west, Chengdu has its own, which is reasonable.

Let’s find out what his journey is.

Tell us about yourself.

My name is FU Jie, born in Sichuan. Since I was a child, I have been fascinated with being beautiful. Since the fourth grade of elementary school, I have bought my clothes and shoes by myself, of course, the money was given by my parents. What I’m doing now has something to do with my hobbies.

I studied statistics for 4 years at the University of Manchester in the UK.

Looking back now, if I went to Edward Green as a worker for 4 years in the past 4 years, it might have helped me even more now.

After returning to China in 2010, in order to reassure my family, I found a job at Citibank.

I resigned in 2015 and began preparations to make shoes.

How did you get started with dress shoes?

My first dress shoe was John Lobb, bought in the UK in 2006, with its rounded and slender last and sexy waistline, which impressed me and gave me a deep understanding and passion for shoes.

Tony Gaziano and Dean Girling influenced me the most. In addition to the aesthetics of their shoes are particularly good, it is also because although they are all from traditional manufacturers, they have their own ideas and personalities, which can be regarded as a bit of rebellion and ideals.

How did you come up with the idea to start making shoes?

When I had these great shoes, and looked at the domestic dress shoes, I feel bloated, probably in order to adapt wider feet better, appearance was badly sacrificed. So when I was studying, I already had the idea of returning to China to make shoes.

Why did you choose to set up a brand and set up a workshop in Chengdu?

First of all, I am from Chengdu, and Chengdu has some foundation in shoemaking.

The partner in charge of the workshop was previously the head of a factory in Chengdu that worked as an OEM for Belle Group. His industry resources are quite good.

However, skilled craftsmen are mainly concentrated in Shanghai and Guangzhou, so our masters are basically invited from these two places.

What is the current team like? What are they responsible for?

In terms of scale, there are currently 12 people in the workshop and 10 people in the sales team.

The founding team has 4 people, all like-minded friends, I am mainly responsible for branding and product planning.

One of the partners, LIU Yang, completed his undergraduate studies in Australia and worked for luxury footwear brand Christian Louboutin Australia. After returning to China in 2017, he joined the team and is now mainly responsible for brand image management and internal management.

LIU Yang

It is said that men in Chengdu do not wear suits and dress shoes, do you think this is the case?

Chengdu is a casual city compared to Shanghai and Beijing and has fewer people wearing suits, but at present, I feel that more and more people like classic menswear culture, which is a good thing.

Does SLIMSHOES mean Slim Shoes? What does the brand name mean?

It was mentioned that the idea of making shoes was born because the domestic dress shoes were bloated and unaesthetic, so the meaning of SLIMSHOES is shoes with beautiful lines.

Why people should choose SLIMSHOES/Yearn Shoemaker.

Through our understanding of the market, our craftsmanship, raw materials and price are very good but not enough, the most important selling point is our aesthetics.

In addition, brand is very important, once brand is established, it can have an emotional connection with consumers, it is really impossible to refuse.

Which style is your personal favorite and why?

My favorite at the moment is this Tassel Loafer.

Very classic style, the upper has some small details such as U-shaped handsewn apron. In addition, I like the color very much, brown, green mixed patina, very fresh, but also easy to match.

What do you think of patina?

I think patina has a certain relationship with personal aesthetics, aesthetics itself is a very subjective thing. Some friends like patina, some like crust leather colour, I personally like patina and I think patina can make leather shoes more flexible and artistic…

What was the original purpose of SLIMSHOES/Yearn Shoemaker?

The original intention of establishing is to make good and beautiful shoes. The goal is a bit ambitious, a world-renowned Chinese shoe brand.

Please say a few words to shoe lovers.

Domestic welted shoe brands are just getting started, in all aspects, whether it is last, craftsmanship or supply chain resources, it will take a long time to precipitate. I believe that those famous brands in Europe have spent 10 years or even decades in these aspects, so please be more tolerant and patient.

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