It's the height of summer now and wearing as little as possible feels right. This goes for shoes, too. Who wants to clomp around in heavy footwear in this godawful heat?
Enter K. Jacques, purveyors of strappy leather sandals. The label was started in the 1930s in St. Tropez, France by an Armenian refugee. They were made-to-measure for each customer and the shop often made sandals for wealthy, famous people on holiday in St. Tropez. Many of the styles haven’t changed since then, though they do offer trendier options every year.
They cost between $200 and $400. This is a bit of sticker shock for what at first glance appears to be a nondescript flat sandal made from a strip or two of leather. I dug a bit to try to figure out how they can--and do--command that price.
1) Impeccable French heritage with a compelling story: Refugee makes good, attracts rich tourists.
2) The company has been family-owned since its inception and the shoes are handmade in a small factory in St. Tropez by “skilled artisans.” Handmade is obviously more time consuming and therefore, more expensive. I like to think of a bunch of women with lace caps lovingly sewing leather while humming Edith Piaf tunes.
3) The leather is sourced from France and Italy. Italian leather is often considered the best quality in the world, so there you go. Ka-ching.
4) Because of reasons 1, 2, and 3, K. Jacques has collaborated with some of the most prestigious designers and brands in the world. The company has worked with Isabel Marant, Karl Lagerfeld, Balenciaga, Givenchy, and Missoni, among many others. This has helped to establish a decent reputation as a luxury brand.
5) The styles are simple, just trendy enough, and look expensive without being overly flashy. Logos are still considered crass in this uncertain economic climate. And the shoes are cute! The styles they just did in collaboration with Opening Ceremony are really quirky (picture at left).
The bottom line: K. Jacques has a clean reputation, makes a quality product, and has that magical quality all brands lust after--caché. And if you cruise the Net-a-Porter sandal page, they look downright reasonably priced next to the $935 embellished Lanvins.