Straight out of New York City, Aimé Leon Dore is reaching new heights as an upcoming menswear brand. With a recent collaboration with Puma under the belt, we chat sneakers and success with ALD’s founder Teddy Santis.
So tell us about Aimé Leon Dore, what’s the ethos behind the brand?
ALD is a creative platform with an honest vision and bold NYC aesthetic. Growing up in NYC with parents coming from a small Greek island, I’ve experienced many different cultures that are represented in our aesthetic, vision and message. Our ethos is takes us beyond menswear, as we deliver a unique and honest message through our product, styling, and visuals which play a huge role in the brand. While we don’t like to say much, we let our imagery and visual presentation do the talking for us.
I hear your first collection sold out in 45 minutes, that’s major. Were you expecting that response?
I was very surprised. We didn’t expect such a big response, let alone one that was so positive. Even though our first collection was made in limited quantities, it was still surprising to see everything sell out since nobody really knew who we were. We were confident in the brand and our aesthetic, but I didn’t think any brand launching its first ever collection (especially one only available online), with zero background or experience, would see such a response.
What would you say is the key to your success as a brand?
I believe the most important aspect of a successful brand, especially in fashion, is designing, creating, and then understanding how to sell what you’ve just created. The logistics and actual business behind a brand is as important, if not more important, than the product itself. It’s very rare to find a creative who understands how to continue funding their creativity. Figuring that out was something I took a crash course in during the first few months of the brand, and I’m still learning every day. Even with the business background I had, fashion was a whole new world that required a strategy for success nobody can teach you. But most importantly, you need to really want it, and that always comes through in one’s work ethic.
How did your collaboration with Puma come about?
I was in Paris a month after we launched and Yassine, the lifestyle lead at Puma, approached me about a possible project. He saw potential in the brand before anyone else did and offered me an opportunity. It was a very tough decision for both parties as we were such a young brand and Puma is one of the biggest sportswear companies in the world. We both knew this was something that could not be forced – it had to happen organically and compliment the honest approach and foundation we had created as a brand. I flew out to London four weeks later and the whole process was simply amazing. Their design team understood our aesthetic and we had this incredible freedom to create. It was definitely a memorable experience.
So the sneakers, talk me through them…
We chose the Puma States because I really love how they look when worn. We initially worked on a ‘runner’ but it didn’t feel right. I grew up wearing the Clydes, but the States are a bit more refined. I’ve really fallen in love with the silhouette. We transformed it using materials that allow you to actually wear the shoe without worrying about them getting beat up. The goal from day one was to create the perfect summer shoe you can actually wear. Not something from the classic sneaker-head market. I wanted to make sure everything about it was easy – from the colors to the styling. Even cleaning the shoes is easy. I just got back from Greece where I wore this shoe everyday. It truly is the perfect summer shoe.
Agreed. So who’s going to be wearing them?
Everyone – it’s an incredibly versatile and comfortable shoe.
And what should they wear with them?
If you look at our 0315 collection we released a few days after the Puma States, you can see how we envision the shoe being styled. It really is a diverse silhouette that looks good with just about anything.
If you had to soundtrack the collection, what would be your top three tracks?
I love this question because with every collection or project we work on, there is always a song/album we associate with it. I’m from Queens and really love what Action Bronson is doing. Has last album ‘Mr. Wonderful’ is something I spent a lot of time listening to when we started executing the vision behind the Puma States. With that said, I would have to say The Passage, A Light in the Addict, and Easy Rider are the three songs that would soundtrack this collection.
What else are you working on for 2015?
I feel like everyone is sitting back nodding their head but at the same time asking what’s next. Almost as if we had a few good runs but they don’t see where else we can go with it. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…