Dubbed the “Warby Parker Of Shoes” by Inc. Magazine, Beckett Simonon has a rich background despite its young age. Beckett Simonon was founded by long-time friends Nicholas Hurtado and Andrés Niño as a brand that offers premium yet affordable footwear for discerning gentlemen.
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Beckett Simonon’s History
As mentioned above, Beckett Simonon is a young company yet has a rich history and background.
Becket Simonon’s Origins
Having met over twenty years ago, Colombian duo Nicholas Hurtado and Andrés Niño share a long friendship that first started in school. In those days, their shared interests were punk rock and skateboarding.
However, this unexpectedly planted the seed that would be Beckett Simonon several decades later as it sparked a passion for the DIY culture. What started out in an interest in clothing and working with their hands, grew into an admiration for artisanal craftsmanship.
While Hurtado and Niño attended university, their personal styles and tastes developed and gravitated towards menswear. Yet, they still preserved the DIY spirit from their earlier years.
Therefore, once finished with their undergraduate studies, together they launched Hasso, a leather good company.
A Taste For Retail
Hasso was a successful venture and their brand was distributed in 13 countries. Although it was a stable business, neither Hurtado nor Niño felt fulfilled and were eventually disillusioned by the retail market.
What troubled them the most was the level of waste involved in the process. Once their products were manufactured, they were exported to distribution agents. After arriving at the warehouses, they were then dispatched to regional distributors before being delivered to the retailers.
By the time their wares on displayed, they were often retailed at six times the original production cost. However, the duo then learned that half of the goods were never even sold and it was this fundamentally pained them the most.
Niño and Hurtado were left unsettled by this reality even though it is generally regarded as the norm. Rather than follow the encouragement to grow the business, they liquidated their inventory and closed the brand.
Beckett Simonon Is Born
Refusing to adapt and conform to a system that perpetuated waste, Andrés Niño and Nicholas Hurtado instead channelled their counter-culture spirits of their punk rock youth.
A few months later, Beckett Simonon launched as an independent company operating online solely from their own website. With no middleman, they had complete control of production and their economical use of resources.
However, this new frontier came with a steep learning curve and according to Nicholas, “it was a snowball in the most literal and catastrophic sense.”
Beckett Simonon grew at an unprecedented and unanticipated rate. Consequently, they experienced issues with quality, logistics as well as customer service. Concerns grew that the business wouldn’t work and so they again sought consultation.
On this occasion, they were instead urged to cease with their new venture and return to a more conventional model. However, Hurtado and Niño truly believed in Beckett Simonon and chose to again disregard this advice.
Their combined passion gave them the resources to harmonise their operation. The gambit paid off and Beckett Simonon today has a community of over 25,000 happy customers.
Who Is Beckett Simonon Named After?
Andrés and Nicholas were inspired by two somewhat unrelated pioneers when naming Beckett Simonon. Drawing from their punk rock youth, the brand is named after Samuel Beckett, the renowned Irish playwright, and Paul Simonon, the bassist of The Clash.
Indeed, Beckett Simonon projects the allure of quintessentially British class. However, it’s even more poignant when it combines the minds behind the audacious London Calling and the absurd Waiting For Godot.
An Ethical Philosophy
Beckett Simonon was not only founded upon the values of affordable footwear or traditional manufacturing methods. In fact, one of their fundamental principles is ensuring an ethical and responsible brand in a global society stigmatised by waste and consumerism.
This begins by guaranteeing the working conditions of their craftspeople. In an era of exploitation, Andrés Niño and Nicholas Hurtado sought to secure their skilled craftspeople with the necessary wages, paid vacation time as well as a pension and health insurance.
In Nicholas’ words, “we know we’re only as good as they are. It’s an honour to preserve their craft and, most importantly, their dignity.”
However, the brand doesn’t stop there are they have fostered relationships with suppliers that have programs for responsible water, chemical and waste management.
Quality Built To Last
The long-lasting quality of their footwear also plays a role in this philosophy. By providing accessible premium shoes, it creates the opportunity to ultimately reduce the waste of low-quality footwear being thrown away by negating their need to be bought in the first place.
Additionally, the made-to-order business model described below also helps reduce impulse purchases. As Beckett Simonon shoes require time to be manufactured, it encourages the customer’s forethought in making the commitment.
Finally, their model also plays a great role in waste reduction in both an economical and ecological sense. As mentioned above, so much products are left unsold in retail.
As businesses believe that selling or donating their products at heavily discounted prices will undermine their value, they often prefer to incinerate or dispose of them entirely.
Instead, Beckett Simonon ensures that every shoe produced is a fulfilment of a genuine order made by a customer.
After preserving a challenging investment and development process throughout 2017, Beckett Simonon shoes are now made from their own workshop in Bogotá, Colombia.
Having stood for three generations, the workshop is unique in Colombia as it is the only one that follows the brand’s processes and methods. A particular hurdle was in acquiring the necessary craftspeople with the skills required to produce their shoes.
Yet, they have succeeded in assembling their own team of the most skilled artisans since the brand was founded in 2012.
However, before Andrés and Nicholas brought Beckett Simonon to their home country, their shoes were manufactured in Portugal.
From Portugal To Colombia
Production initially took place in Portugal largely thanks to a family connection. While Nicholas and Andrés were satisfied with the production quality, they felt that the structure wasn’t quite adapted to the vision they shared for Beckett Simonon.
Firstly, large shoes manufactures in Portugal often host a myriad of brands in order to sustain continuous production. As such, Nicholas and Andrés had little restricted access due to the confidentiality of neighbouring brands.
Given that their footwear business was founded upon a Group Made-To-Order model, they needed both creative freedom and production flexibility. Therefore, they sought a solution that would grant them a closer relationship with the manufacturing and design processes.
Similarly, as their production orders would vary between campaigns, Beckett Simonon required freedom from the order minimums of large-scale factories. As outsourcing production can costs brands a certain premium, manufacturing in Portugal didn’t conform to the brand’s low cost and high-value identity.
Therefore, Andrés and Nicholas quickly realised that outsourcing production was not fitting with their direct-to-consumer vision. As such, they developed their own workshop in their home country to provide a veritable manufacturer-to-consumer business.
An Ethical Workshop
Producing apparel in a developing country may sometimes hint at nefarious practices and exploitation. However, Nicholas and Andrés didn’t bring the production to their home country in order to keep costs down!
Indeed, Beckett Simonon strives to create an ethical and healthy environment for its artisans. The average salary is 40% over Colombia’s minimum wage with nobody working at or under it.
Similarly, the working week is strictly regulated to between 40 and 48 hours with the weekends reserved for time off. The artisans also benefit from 125 days of paid maternity leave, 8 days of secondary caregiver leave, and 3 weeks of paid vacation.
As well as being provided with healthcare and pension programs, the artisans are free to form unions, too.
Where Does Beckett Simonon Source Its Leathers?
Until recently, all of Beckett Simonon’s shoes were crafted from high grades of vegetable-tanned full-grain Argentinian calfskin leather.
Although Beckett Simonon continues to use this leather for its soles, the uppers are now made with gold-standard full-grain Italian leather from the Mastrotto tannery.
Established in 1958, the Mastrotto tannery is run by its founder’s sons, Santo and Bruno. Its gold standard was awarded by the Leather Working Group based on the following criteria:
Air & Noise Emissions
The Leather Working Group was formed in 2005 by NGOs, suppliers, manufacturers, retailers, and other leading industry experts and supports the United Nation’s sustainable development goals.
It assesses the environmental compliance of leather manufacturers and awards them scores out of 100 points. The Mastrotto tannery has been awarded a Gold standard, which means that it has earned 85 points or more.
The tannery can be found in Arzignano in the province of Vicenza. Although it values the traditions of its trade, it has also heavily invested in new technologies to improve its workers’ welfare.
It uses a water-based tanning process and has built its own water treatment plant to reduce pollution. Furthermore, the heat produced from the tanning process is converted into energy to help power the facility.
The Mastrotto tannery plays an important role in its community with several social-advancement projects.
Do Beckett Simonon Shoes Contain Chromium
For a number of years, Beckett Simonon touted that its shoes were made from chromium-free vegetable-tanned calfskin leather. When the toxicity of Chromium was revealed, vegetable tanning was quickly heralded as the only environmentally-friendly method.
However, chromium has been used for tanning shoes since the 19th century and our understanding of the ingredient has been greatly oversimplified. Chromium renders leather more supple, which is a desirable feature in many shoes. Furthermore, it’s essential for making white leather. Therefore, it’s quite covemmon in sneakers.
Nevertheless, there are actually two types of chromium. Firstly, chromium VI is indeed a toxic chemical for both tanners and people who wear shoes. It causes respiratory problems as well as neurological side effects and skin burns.
Meanwhile, chromium 3 is an essential element in humans and quite healthy. Indeed, we benefit from a daily intake of between 50 to 200 micrograms per day in the food that we eat.
Vegetable-tanning has its limitations and isn’t always suitable depending on the type of leather you wish to produce. Another reason that Beckett Simonon sought out a new tannery is that the brand needed an environmentally-friendly solution. As a result, it discovered the Mastrotto Group, which occasionally uses chromium 3 for certain hides.
Beckett Simonon Leather Vs Rubber Soles
Throughout our experiences with Beckett Simonon, most of their footwear was made with leather soles. In fact, it was usually an exceptional release that would be offered with a rubber sole.
Nevertheless, Beckett Simonon have recently introduced rubber-soled shoes and boots as part of their core collection. Thicker and more robust, the rubber soles provide superior traction and performance.
However, this comes at the price of losing out on the sleekness enjoyed with leather soles. Available on a few selected models, they’re usually featured on hardier designs that are made to endure more utilitarian use.
For instance, the Downler boots are made with a classically military design. Should you choose the pull-up leather model, it develops a rich patina, especially when mistreated.
Are Beckett Simonon Boots With Rubber Soles Waterproof?
Although equipped with thick rubber soles, their boots are still made using a Blake stitch construction. Similarly, when we asked Beckett Simonon whether the rubber soles provided protection in wet conditions, they reminded us that the Blake stitch still had visible stitching on the sole.
That being said, we’ve tested their rubber-soled boots in multiple terrains and weather without experiencing any issues. In fact, they performed exceptionally well. Not only were they dragged through mud and heavy rain in Northern France but we also wore them when travelling to Nicaragua.
Despite the heat, we didn’t experience any discomfort and the boots breathed very well. If anything, the added flexibility aided in hiking and horse riding. Meanwhile, the boots didn’t even let in a single drop of water when treading in deep puddles.
After their heavy-duty use, they were simply rubbed down with colourless Saphir shoe cream and regained their initial sheen.
A Group Made-To-Order Business Model
One of the secrets to Beckett Simonon’s formula is their Group Made-To-Order business model. While the concept has existed for a long time, Beckett Simonon’s approach is unique.
A Made-To-Order (MTO) process is typically where the customer pre-orders a production and it is then manufactured. This particular model can be quite costly as production is dependent on the orders but reduces waste entirely as no more shoes are made than necessary.
Meanwhile, the Group Made-To-Order process has the benefit of low-waste but costs less as it follows a fixed production run.
Beckett Simonon have adjusted this process to fit with their model through campaigns much like crowdfunding. The brand will run campaigns over a fixed period of time, which is essentially a window where clients will place their orders.
Group MTO Benefits
The campaign window then closes when its period has elapsed or a certain quantity of orders have been made. However, unlike crowdfunding campaigns, Beckett Simonon will produce every shoe ordered in the allotted time regardless of quantity.
The result benefits both Beckett Simonon and the customers. From Beckett Simonon’s perspective, the brand has immediate access to the funds necessary to use high-quality materials and construction techniques while respecting their vision of ethical craftsmanship.
As there is no excess production or waste, Beckett Simonon are able to save significant manufacturing costs. In turn, the customer ultimately benefits they ultimately pay considerably less for their premium shoes.
Given that Beckett Simonon only make the quantity and sizes that are actually ordered. Therefore, there is a resulting six to eight-week waiting period while the shoes are manufactured before they can be dispatched to the customer.
Nevertheless, discerning shoe enthusiasts who recognise the quality for the low price will realise that it is well worth the wait.
Under the watchful gaze of the workshop’s resident cat, Manchas (meaning “Stains” in Spanish), the manufacturing process generally takes about six weeks to complete. Hundreds of steps are involved in producing their footwear but below is a simplified breakdown of the process.
Once the hides are ready, the process of hand-cutting and skiving the leather can begin. Surprisingly, this step can take over a week alone as the edges of the leather are hand-waxed and sometimes even hand-sanded.
In the video above, leather cutter Marco Aurelio explains the process and walks us through his different techniques.
After the components have been properly cut and prepared, the shoes undergo a meticulous stitching process. Once again, the process is particularly lengthy as every shoes is assembled with 11 to 12 stitches per inch.
Although dense stitching is more labour-intensive, Beckett Simonon commits to this as it will ensure a strongly-built shoe that stands the test of time.
The linings are also attached during the stitching process. This can be particularly complex as Beckett Simonon uses wholecut linings from a single piece of leather. The result is a more comfortable shoe as there are no seams or joints in the interior.
With the uppers now assembled, the shoes are given their final shape before they are lasted. This is achieved by using vapour on the uppers, which exposes them to heat and vapour. Beforehand, tox box and heel stiffeners are attached to the shoes as well as interlinings in the quarters for certain models.
This delicate process requires that both the temperature and leather elasticity are regularly checked. The uppers are then lasted using a pneumatic press once flexible enough.
This process gives the shoes their final shape aside for the waist, which is lasted by hand with a hammer and pliers. The hand lasting of the waist is a conscious choice by Beckett Simonon to design it with a taper that improves the arch support.
Lasting is followed by a maturation process of between 48 to 96 hours. The uppers are left on the lasts to naturally cool down and stabilise so that eventually adapts to its shape.
Beckett Simonon’s team are particularly fond of this particular step as the maturation process results in a shoe with a superior shape that endures for years.
After having fully matured, the shoes are then given their final assembly and the outsoles are attached. Beckett Simonon used to produce Goodyear welted shoes. However, they have recently made the conscious decision of opting for the Blake Stitch construction.
Although the Goodyear welt is often revered as being the best construction method, it is incredibly labour intensive without providing many genuine benefits. Firstly, it results in what is usually a heavy and bulky shoe. Furthermore, they can take a long time to properly break in.
The supposed benefit is that the Goodyear welt can be easily resoled as many times as you want. However, since a shoe is rarely resoled more than every three years, it therefore does not offer much more than a Blake stitch.
Meanwhile, the Blake stitch allows for more streamlined and lightweight shoe designs. They are also easier to to break in and ultimately more comfortable.
Conditioning & Finish
Once the construction has been finalised, the leather is condition with a mix of Carnauba wax and Gardenia cream. Also known as Brazil or palm wax, Carnauba wax has emollient properties that produce a glossy finish when buffed.
Meanwhile, Gardenia cream is an intense moisturiser that nourishes the leather and leaves it supple.
Finally, the shoes are thoroughly polished before being packaged.
Watch the process and see the magic yourself with Beckett Simonon’s own video below. If you look carefully, you may catch of glimpse of Manchas!
Beckett Simonon Coupon Codes & Special Offers
It’s rare that we’re so impressed by a particular shoe brand. While some of our favourites are featured on our guide to the best dress shoe brands due to quality or price, Beckett Simonon has excelled at both.
With its Group Made-To-Order approach, Beckett Simonon is able to provide ethically-handcrafted full-grain Argentinian calfskin shoes. This in itself is impressive. However, their low price makes it extraordinary.
Therefore, we approached Beckett Simonon in order to see what could be provided for our readers. The result is an exclusive 20% discount code that you can use when purchasing shoes on their site.