Gustaf, tell us about the history of North-89 — when did the
company start and what motivated you to establish an upmarket
We launched our first collection
in 2016, but the idea of starting a sneaker brand dates back to
around 2013. I have always wanted to start my own brand and I have
always had a passion for sneakers so it felt like a natural thing
to do. I found that there was a gap between sneakers and
functionality. We have varying weather conditions here in Sweden,
with harsh winters but relatively warm summers. With that in mind I
wanted to create something that adapts to the changing seasons that
we experience in Scandinavia and in many other places around the
What makes a North-89 sneaker special?
This would be the materials and
the way we work with our collections. Our materials and our concept
are based on seasons and weather. We use weatherproof materials and
leathers for autumn/winter so you have the possibility to run
around in sneakers, even though its snowing or raining, without
your feet getting wet. For spring and summer, we adapt our
materials to warmer climates, using leathers for pre-spring and
breathable materials such as cotton mesh for summer.
How would you describe the North-89 philosophy?
We are shoemakers designing for
Scandinavian conditions in the north to the world. We believe that
functionality should be a given even when it comes to sneakers. We
draw inspiration from Scandinavia and the weather conditions that
we have here. It is important for us to show that sneakers can be
functional without sacrificing style and design.
You’ve got a great-looking Instagram account
[@north89official]. Is social media proving helpful in promoting
your business globally?
Being a small and new brand,
social media is the best way for us to reach out to new customers.
If done right it can have a huge impact on your business and sales.
It has been a great platform for us to spread our brand, find new
customers and grow. Using influencers that we believe fit our brand
has helped a lot. It’s important to find the right people to
promote your brand because this will have an impact on how your
customer will view you.
Do you design with a particular character or personality in
We design for people who are
design conscious but still want that touch of functionality in the
clothing and footwear that they buy. For us, that can be someone
who works at a bank and has a sartorial way of dressing, or an
athlete with a sportier style, and everyone in between. We don’t
want to limit ourselves to a specific person, we believe that our
sneakers are very versatile in their look.
What does your Swedish background bring to the brand? And
what’s your key source of inspiration?
The design, colors and material
choices are definitely inspired by my Swedish heritage. I have
grown up abroad but Sweden has always been a big inspiration to me.
When I design our sneakers I want to give them character but still
keep them simple, aesthetically pleasing and functional. I take in
inspiration from anything. I don’t really have a specific source or
a place I go to. I look for colours that I find inspiring or
combinations of different colors and then take it from there. Today
we are able to find the right materials in almost any colour, so I
mainly look at colours and then we also have to consider what
season we are designing for. Since our sneakers take a functional
approach we look at more technical brands for inspiration as well
to see what we can pull from there.
What are the most important attributes to look for in a
Quality of materials, comfort,
and where they are produced. We only use high-quality materials,
leathers from Italy for example. Our soles are also from Margom,
which is the only way to go in the sneaker industry. Comfort for us
is vital, we have found an insole that uses memory foam, which
allows it to form after your foot. We want you to be able to run
around in our sneakers all day without your feet getting tired. Our
shoes are handmade in Porto, Portugal. This is where 99 percent of
quality brands produce their shoes unless they are made in