Shoes are one of those items that some people fetishize, whether it’s about the shape or the number you have in your closet. Although that kind of consumption doesn’t fit with my minimalist aesthetic (in itself a kind of fetish, I’ll admit), I may have to make some changes to accommodate the By Dot collection. Their focus on classic design and unisex use, combined with sleek leather or suede, makes each shoe a versatile part of your wardrobe.
I love androgynous clothing; there’s something so polished about the kind of clean lines and colors it takes to create designs that fit both men and women. Often, clothes or accessories that are gender-neutral are called “menswear inspired” when women wear them. This is because maleness is a default in our society but it’s an inaccurate and condescending way to represent women’s personal style. What I appreciate about By Dot shoes is that they aren’t trying to pull that nonsense off. This isn’t “men’s shoes that women can also wear if they want to look like men.” It’s: “shoes for women and men.” Says Italian-born co-founder Stefano Fileti, “I just tell people to try them on. If they fit, if you like how they feel, they’re your shoes.”
Launched in late 2012 by Copenhagen-based Stefano, Fredrika Dominici Bertilsson and Oscar Hellström (the latter two both Swedes), By Dot looked for a gap in the market. “We wanted to start with a classic product. People will always need shoes. But in Scandinavia it’s hard to find good quality and low cost, so that was our goal from the beginning.” Designing in Denmark and producing in Spain allowed them to keep costs down.
Good quality, low cost, you say? I’m game.
Turns out, it’s not as easy to get consumers to agree. Stefano laughs, “I think people have been a bit suspicious. We’re so used to high prices here in Copenhagen that when we see a nice looking leather shoe for 800 kroner, we think: that’s probably terrible! It may take some time to build that trust.”
So then what about customer testing? “My dad has a bunch of pairs,” says Fileti. Oscar adds, “our families have been like a focus group. They’re our biggest critics; they give us the good news and the bad! Of course we wear our own designs as well.”
To prove his point, he points under the table to both he and Stefano’s shoes, two black leather designs from their collection. I would wear both. At once, if that were possible.
At the moment, you can buy find By Dot at Finders Keepers markets in Copenhagen and Aarhus, as well as at several stores in Copenhagen (listed below).
But By Dot is about more than shoes. “We’re looking to build a community,” says Oscar. “We’re using shoes as a platform to reach people. By Dot will always produce shoes but we’d also like to be involved in music, in art. We’re interested in shared creativity and how brands can support and even create that.”
Both formerly of Cheap Monday (where Oscar still works part-time), the By Dot team has experience in branding. What’s new is figuring out how to use that to build the artistic community that they envision. It a goal that not only inspires them but will hopefully inspire others to get involved.
And in the foundation of all that? Shoes. “Everyone’s gotta wear ’em.” Stefano says.
True enough. If we can throw Scandinavian design, quality and affordability into the mix, that’s something worth creating a community around.
Get By Dot shoes at:
Banner image features the Desert Boot in a variety of colors.