In an interview with Tom Brone, Tom mentioned that his mentor in dress shoe industry and best friend is Rezso Kuti.
He is best known as Vass’s sales manager. The fame of Vass nowadays is attributed to Rezso.
In 2020, he launched his own brand, Passus, a very high-end handmade brand.
It is a great pleasure talking with him.
When talking about Vass, almost everyone knows your name, did you have any memorable experiences there?
Yes, I must thank Jesper (Jesper Ingevaldsson, Shoegazing’s blogger) for Vass’s rapid growth, because his Super Trunk Show made more people aware of Vass.
The first Super Trunk Show held in Stockholm let Vass come into everyone’s sight.
The Super Trunk Show in London gave Vass the widest reputation, and we immediately opened up the market in Western Europe and even the world.
You are so important to Vass, why did you choose to leave?
Good question. Frankly, because Vass is a family business, opportunities are very limited for people who are not part of the family.
But I have to say, it was a very good learning experience there.
Besides I wanted to own my own brand, so I chose to move forward.
After leaving Vass, you joined Heinrich Dinkelacker, a German brand that is produced in Vass’s hometown, Budapest, Hungary, so why did you join the company?
I wanted to build my own brand, and at Vass I had enough experience in marketing, and I wanted to gain experience in production, so I joined Heinrich Dinkelacker as the production manager in the factory.
Although not my job role, I also help expand into international markets, especially Asia and the United States.
Your experience and reputation should make many shoe factories want to recruit you, why did you choose to establish your own brand?
On the one hand, this is what I have always dreamed of, and now that I have experience in both marketing and production, I feel that it is time to be able to stand alone.
On the other hand, after Vass and Heinrich Dinkelacker, there was nothing world-renowned and top-quality companies that made me interested in joining.
You know everything about the footwear industry in Budapest, why did your own brand Passus go to Romania?
Actually, Passus is made by Hungarians! Because there is a considerable Hungarian minority in Transylvania. Our shoemakers are familiar with traditional shoemaking techniques.
Our philosophy is to pursue the ultimate tradition, using the oldest technologies and tools. Some of our tools are even over a hundred years old.
We use wooden pegs around the waist.
Budapest also has a lot of shoemakers, but not many know these techniques, so this is one of our strengths.
Even though my partner is American, we see ourselves as a European company that pursues heritage. (The partner is Gabor Halmos, an American of Hungarian descent, who runs online boutique Sartoriale, in the United States.)
How is Passus positioned in the market?
Our price is $1,000, but the quality of our shoes, especially the workmanship, far exceeds those produced in the UK, Italy, Portugal and France at the same price.
I don’t think we have many competitors at this price point.
Who developed Passus lasts?
We developed the shoe last with an Italian company, and then our own shoemaker made some improvements.
I think Passus is more like Saint Crispin’s than Vass, do you agree?
You’re so right!
Another brand, Petru & Claymoor, is also produced in Transyvania, have you heard of them?
Of course, and I’m very familiar with Mircea Claymoor, when I worked for Vass and Heinrich Dinkelacker, he wrote a lot about us on his blog.
Good luck to him.
Which country is your primary target?
The United States, then Asia.
If people could only describe Passus in one sentence, what would you expect them to say?
Unique shoes, exquisite details, great workmanship.
A few words to Chinese shoe lovers.
Your love of dress shoes has grown by leaps and bounds over the past decade, keep it up! I hope you enjoy my shoes and will enjoy wearing them in the future.