Gustaf, tell us about the history of North-89 — when did the company start and what motivated you to establish an
upmarket sneaker business?
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 world.
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
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 mind?
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 high-quality sneaker?
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 Italy.