Since its launch in 2004, Voile Blanche has had its eyes on the future. Presaging the current high fashion sneaker craze with their own luxury trainers in 2010, Voile Blanche is now determined not only to set the standard of the fashion future, but to transcend expectations by creating truly innovative works that blend sophistication, comfort, and classic Italian beauty. Schön! speaks with minds behind the label for an insight into their process, in addition to getting a look at both their CLUB and QWARK trainers as well as their new, sustainable HYBRO series.
How has the brand’s approach to design changed since it officially launched in 2004?
The world of fashion in the last twenty years has undergone revolutionary changes: some due to continuous innovations brought by designers, many others born spontaneously from the street, from ordinary people, who have upset the sense of beauty. In 2004 we created the first footwear without visible soles, re-using the canvas of discarded sails. It was a very innovative shoe that blended beauty and comfort in a world where no one could think of being elegant in a sports shoe. In 2010 we pushed even more on the accelerator and we bet before many on the link between fashion and sport, with shoes that had clean uppers and the iconic injections in the back — sports shoes that could also be worn with city clothes and used throughout the day, not only during sports activities. After only a few years everything was transformed, and now the whole world is on sneakers: at work, during leisure time, and with all types of apparel. Sport has become part of fashion like never before.
We are proud to be there before the others, and today we try to develop our concepts in two directions: the one that comes from the shoes of the ’80s, with a vintage soul, even if revised in the volumes, and the more modern one, with a stronger use of colours, mix of materials and bulky outsoles. The soles are filled with messages as if they were wallpapers, but always without affecting the concepts of elegance that must remain the basis of our creations.
There are several pillars of your brand. One is “contemporary sophistication” — what does that mean to you?
Voile Blanche’s spirit is based on the curiosity to explore everything that is new in the world. It is the rejection of conventionality, of pre-established rules; it is the continuous exploration of new materials, new styles, new forms — all without ever abandoning refinement, elegance, and craftsmanship. That is what we call “sophistication”, and that is what people expect from an Italian brand. For Voile Blanche, style is everything, but it has to be contemporary in the sense that the shoes must always remain clean, and the sense of chic must be visible through the discreet use of details.
On that note, can you introduce our readers to your new iconic models, Club and Qwark?
In CLUB lines, the strong and recognisable aesthetics of the brand is combined with the sense of freedom: each individual must be able to choose how to act and dress, therefore the style of these sneakers merges with functionality, and the vast array of colour variants is able to meet as many different tastes as possible. Outdoor laces, printed soles, zig-zag seams, ribbons, and colour blocks are the main features; the soles are very light and hyper-technological, and the materials allow for maximum foot breathing. Born for men, the super bestseller has been designed for women, too, with a sporty design yet runway look, becoming a new winning player for urban outfits.
Each pair of QWARK is manually finished and is unique in its own way. The vintage look is updated with innovative volumes to give the QWARK models the right mix between classic and contemporary. Footwear directly inspired by the ‘80s: clean shapes and vintage looks for the upper, but projected into the future with the oversized volumes of the ultralight soles. The continuous refinements of new colourways and seasonal prints and embroideries make the QWARK one of the most appealing sneakers around. The bumper stabilises the shoe for a safe and comfortable walk throughout the day, whereas the lower heel-to-toe differential makes walking very pleasant, almost giving the impression of being elevated above the ground.
There’s also the new HYBRO line. What can you tell us about this new sustainable line and the brand commitment to sustainability overall?
We believe our planet needs products that are more sustainable, staying away from the latest greenwashing fashion. As a result, parts of the Voile Blanche collection are increasingly designed to improve circularity and achieve the lowest possible impact in terms of carbon released into the environment. A reduction in the use of resources and energy that translates into a new way of dressing responsibly. Our product is hybrid because it combines different ways of achieving the same goal of saving resources. How? By reusing raw vegetable materials and recycling materials that would otherwise be dispersed in the environment creating pollution.
For our HYBRO shoes we use:
- Recycled cotton
- Recycled leather
- Fabrics with leather effects made from vegetable fibres like apple leftovers (core and peel)
- Fabrics entirely made of recycled PET bottles (Global Recycled Standard certification)
- Clothing wastes and recycled garments (Global Recycled Standard certification)
- Sugarcane polyols as fillers for soles
What do these new additions say about Voile Blanche‘s future?
Predicting the future with the speed at which trends change is never easy. For us, the link between sport and fashion will last for a long time to come, and the chatter that claims this union as dead will soon be disproved because comfort is a value that will be difficult to give up. The reality is that the world of sport, more than a trend, is a real way of looking at things, a common language all over the planet, capable of freeing creativity and giving an incredible space to innovations. Of course, the interpretations of sneakers will change and increasingly hybrid concepts will emerge: uppers will become more urban, but sports materials and flexible and ultra-light soles will continue to be used. The challenge is also to become more sustainable, with products that are less polluting and more environmentally friendly. Technology is making huge strides in this area — it will be great to see how far we can push it.
You also promote a range of accessories — what can you tell us about those?
For the past three seasons, we’ve wanted to add other products alongside footwear. It’s fun to be able to venture into areas that are contiguous even though they have different characteristics. We started with backpacks and bags, with macro lettering and precious materials, which were immediately appreciated by the public. It wasn’t to be taken for granted, but this proves that when you put passion into what you do, when beauty is what rules us, results can come even if you’re not a specialist in the field.
Why is it important that your brand is Designed in Italy?
We consider ourselves an international brand with a pure Italian soul: our name is French, our origins are Italian and our products are sold in the finest boutiques around the world. At the core of our inspiration is always the concept of Italian beauty, the ability of our people to produce beauty in everything they do, from fashion to architecture and design. We love creating beautiful and functional products that last for a long time, just like real works of art. Everyone working in our company helps us convey this concept through our products. Italian craftsmanship and workers are therefore our prime example of excellence, but this doesn’t mean that we don’t value valid manufacturers elsewhere. All phases of design, prototype production, and material selection come from Italy; most of the assembling and production phase takes place in Europe at our own factories.
What’s next for Voile Blanche?
Voile Blanche offers a vast array of products with different style characteristics. It is a “fluid” brand and transforms itself continuously, unpredictably taking new paths in every direction. Voile Blanche represents the freedom of a contemporary, constantly evolving lifestyle where sportswear is interpreted as an area of exploration for new languages. Among the objectives for the near future we can put:
- the development of the shoe collection towards more urban aesthetic codes, inspired by trends found in urban clothing and metropolitan trends. An expression of personal style that enhances the individuality of the person wearing them.
- the development of our accessory lines: a new project in which the artisanry, styling, tailoring, mix of materials, and iconic injection molded rubber of our shoes can be seen. Voile Blanche is a state of mind, and backpacks and bags are used to integrate the different collections of the brand, to complete its vision of modern dressing, with the strong and distinctive elements of the brand that become motifs of stylistic communication and confirm the understated sophistication.
- the improved synergy between our reality and the world of art. Speaking of communication, artists in line with the imagery and values of Voile Blanche will re-interpret a sneaker in their own style. Tired of the usual fashion campaigns, we want to communicate what we do literally “through the eye of the artists”.
- last but not least, we are working to improve and expand our direct retail, the Voile Blanche Society stores in Paris and Milan. Here, the spaces are designed as containers for precious accessories: shoes, bags, objects of design and personal care products. Hence the name Society: a society of beauty created not only by shoes, but also a community of objects that speak to one another, creating connections between them.
This is a teaser for our upcoming issue, Schön! 42 — out in April.
photography. Sam Ramirez
fashion. Ton Aguilar
videography. Philipe Alexander
models. Hazel Graye @ Freedom Models, Haley Halter @ Vision LA + Jonah Bouhassoun @ State Management
hair. Lana Hunter
make up + grooming. Shea Hardy
movement coordination. Julia Rado
photography assistant. Sharon Esquivel
videography assistant. Luis Trujillo
fashion assistant. Trinidad Mejia