Introducing Anothersole, the travel shoe brand poised to be the Toms of Singapore
Singaporean shoe brand Anothersole may be new in town, but don't make the mistake of thinking they are a novice in the footwear genre. Weighing only 550 grams and crafted with the finest of leathers, find out from co-founder Phoebe Charn how Anothersole fulfils its promise to be "probably the best travel shoe" in the market.
What was the driving force behind Anothersole?
My business partner Benny Chee and I have been designing and supplying fashion footwear to international retailers for the past 15 years. We were part of the gigantic fast fashion revolution where we were swept by this invisible force to churn out cheap new stuff faster to accommodate the even faster fashion. Consumers are presented with ever lower prices and paired with frequent markdowns on inferiorly spec'd products which don't last. We are of the opinion that it's smarter to invest in quality classics rather than wasting money on things that will only add to landfills.
Quality always wins over quantity.
Three years ago, we wanted to use our skills set to create a product which is timeless and commercial; a pair of shoes you would reach out for again and again as it is so easy to wear and it compliments your wardrobe. It needs to be made with the highest quality of material in its category, and it needs to feel like a million bucks.
Tell me about the leathers used in Anothersole.
Benny and I were very strict with ourselves when it comes to leather; we went through a lot to get the leather right. They are sourced from South America to Europe to India, as well as the highest grade nappa leather from a 100-year-old tannery in North Italy which supplies to leading Italian brands. In fact, they laughed at us when they saw our retail price, as it was very strange for them to see their leathers priced that low.
The footbed is incredibly soft though it's super thin and supportive. How is this achieved?
We experimented with so many different variants of material for our signature performance sports footbed as it needed to have the right viscosity and density to cushion the impact from extensive walking, yet able to retain its shape without collapsing after only a few wears or disintegrate over time. We finally found a material developed by a sporting big boy; it has a unique molecular structure which is breathable, non-toxic and antibacterial. It is also shaped with an ergo arch support!
The brand's tagline is "Probably the best travel shoe". Do the soles of Anothersole measure up to this hefty claim?
The soles are made of 100% high grade rubber so it's not hard and it is flexible for the foot. We test them on abrasion and flexibility and grip according to European standards of the footwear industry.
I was told the shoes are designed to be packed smartly.
Yes! The insoles are removable, which means that if you would like to bring along two or more pairs of Anothersole for different occasions, you only need to being one pair of insoles. The shoes can also be packed flat; they will not go out of shape. This will save you lots of space.
Let's talk leather — the different types used, and how they're like on the skin.
We usually use two kinds of leather, which is sheep nappa or bovine nappa. Sheepskin is usually thinner while bovine has thicker hides. Anothersole shoes are made without lining; they fit well because they form a mould of your feet, therefore they get more and more comfortable over time. Even the white sock lining on the footbed is made of kid (baby goat) leather — very breathable for the feet. Kid leather is more superior and expensive compared to pig leather or synthetic and fabric linings.
Upon trying on the shoes, I noticed that my big toe creates a little bump on the shoe. Is that normal?
I'm glad you noticed that. As it is meant as a "body shoe" where only the leather is hugging your feet, you will feel as though you are wearing a feather light shoe or nothing at all! The little toe bulge is part of the signature look and as the leather stretches out, the bulge will be come less obvious.
Your label is driven by a philanthropic element, yes?
Benny and I were clear from the onset that we wanted to make a social difference with Anothersole. It needs to be a successful social brand like TOMS and Warby Parker where a social good is made. It has to be a real sacrifice, not some marketing stunt where one donates a small portion out of net profit, so my business partner and I decided to set aside 10% of our sales receivables and park it under our Buy1Feed1 feed fund.
What is Buy1Feed1 and how is it related to the thought behind the brand name?
We wanted to take the opportunity to good with what we are good at, by giving back to society. A sole for a soul, hence, Anothersole. Through this idea, we pledge to donate one meal to a child with pair of shoes sold.
How do you go about a project that big a scale?
Our feed fund is used for the building of communities in challenging situations and we partner with non-profit organisations such as World Vision Singapore that will advise us on what the needs are out there. We strive to be transparent; we update our followers on how much money we have set aside and how we do it. Everything is reflected on our website and we even have a little label under the tongue to the shoe showing our fund goals. We intend to update the number of children helped with each batch of shoes made.
See Anothersole's current collection below:
Shop Anothersole in Tangs Orchard, and online.