The worlds of finance and sneaker design couldn’t be more disparate, but Adam Lewenhaupt is amply acquainted with both. In 2014, the now 37-year-old Swede launched C.QP, a Stockholm-based sneaker label that he conjured up as a “pure passion project” after a creatively unfulfilling career as a banker that spanned ten years. “I sort of knew throughout that career that it wasn’t the last stop for me, and I knew that I wanted to pursue something entrepreneurial and I wanted to create something on my own,” he tells me, over coffee on a brief visit to London to celebrate C.QP’s five-year anniversary. “I ended up choosing something that I really felt strongly about. I’ve always been a fan of shoes and sneakers in particular and I found at the time when I started doing this that there was a gap in the market for something that was casual as well as a bit elegant or dressed up in a way. I felt that I personally missed a type of product that could fill that niche in the market.”
His approach was simple: he would only create sneakers that aligned with his own elegantly refined, understated style. “I have a small rule of thumb that everything we do I need to feel comfortable with and it should be something that myself and the guys in my team are all willing to wear ourselves and that we can stand for,” he says. “We should never do it for what we perceive as being ‘on trend’. We would probably fail because that’s not what we’re good at.” This philosophy translates to sleek and clean minimalist design that, in a market saturated with high-tech, chunky, indiscreetly branded so-called ‘ugly’ sneakers, is quite frankly refreshing.
Inevitably, an intrinsic Scandinavian sensibility has something to do with C.QP’s minimalist aesthetic, but Adam maintains that it’s far from just another Scandi brand. “I think there is definitely a minimalist edge to it and I think Scandinavian design tends to be pretty pared down. But for our brand there’s also something else that’s more southern European, a bit more warmth to it. In terms of colourways I think many Scandinavian brands tend to end up being very monochrome - it’s black or it’s white, they’re very careful in terms of colours. As are we but we’re a bit more adventurous.” Narrow lasts, natural colourways - including beige, khaki, faded green and various shades of grey - and luxurious Italian suede and leather characterise C.QP’s Portuguese-made offering, resulting in versatile and timeless staples that have endured since the brand’s conception and will continue to do so over the next five, ten, even twenty years.