Scandinavia Standard has (we hope) been providing you with information on life in Scandinavia since we launched last year. But Scandinavia, it turns out, extends past its small geographical region: the influence of Scandinavian design can be seen worldwide.
This article is the first in a series we’re calling Scandi Dandies.
So what is a Scandi Dandy? It’s a person, small businesses, event or organization that, to us, exemplifies Scandinavian aesthetic or craftsmanship.
We’re always searching for interesting, innovative or beautiful additions to that list, so we’re very excited to share our interview with Greats Sneakers co-founder Ryan Babenzien.
Scandinavia has a bit of an obsession with sneakers. It’s the only place I’ve ever lived where you can legitimately wear a former trainer; you can wear sneakers with dresses, to work, in leather, textile, crazy colors, whatever. The entire region of Scandinavia is ready to run (in case of moose attack? I don’t know) and looks-wise, they’re actually pulling it off.
Greats is a sneaker company out of Brooklyn, New York. Not only are the designs sleek and modern, they’re selling at value price directly to the customer. That means high quality for less; something those of us in Scandinavia are always searching for.
The Scandi Dandies Questionnaire
Name and Location
Ryan Babenzien, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY
Position and Company
Tell us about the inspiration for and the process of starting Greats
The inspiration really came from the idea that customers were over paying for sneakers because of the inneficiencient nature of the traditional wholesale business. We knew people were very comfrotable buying shoes online but no one had created a direct to consumer mens’ sneaker brand until Greats. In doing so, we’re able to make a premium quality product and sell it at a value price, simply by not having to wholesale it to third party retailers. In the end, the consumer gets a better shoe for less.
Tell us about your most memorable moment with Greats
Wow, there’s been so many even though we’re young. A few would definitely be closing our seed round, Kanye West coming by the office and praising our “bab” model, Kevin Durant (pro nba player) Wearing our custom “trophy pack” he asked us to make and Nick Wooster inviting us to do the sneakers for his Wooster x Lardini collection that just debuted at Pitti Uomo. Those are a few standouts for sure.
What is your perception of Scandinavian style or aesthetic? Is Greats a “Scandi Dandy?” Why or why not?
We love Scandi style. It’s clean and modern and timeless. We think our Royale model is very scandi inspired. It uses premium leathers and suedes, it’s made in Italy, and super clean and versatile. Wear it with a suit, or wear it with shorts, it looks good in almost every occasion.
Haha, we might be Scandi Dandies, yea. I think it’s to early to tell but I’d love for Greats to be a “Scandi Dandy.” It’s just fun to say!
What’s next for Greats?
We’re continuing to build the Greats team, new styles, getting ready for Back to School and our 1 year anniversary which is a big milestone for any startup.
Thanks to Ryan for speaking with us! To see more on Greats, click here (note: they’re not yet shipping internationally! We know, we’re bummed too).