IDYSM: Hey guys. A huge thanks for taking part in this interview. To start, can you please set the scene and give us some info on what you’re up to and where are you as we do this?
LANE EIGHT: As we’re writing this we’re in our office decompressing from a long flight back to HK from NYC. We were in town to sit down with editors from several publications, meet with current and potential retail partners, and network with a few likeminded brands.
IDYSM: So, before we delve into LANE EIGHT, can you tell us a bit about yourself. When and how did your passion for street culture and specifically sneaker culture begin.
LANE EIGHT – Josh: The interest in sneakers was always there from the beginning because our dad is a long time footwear industry vet. He’s the reason we moved around so much growing up.
Our dad started out at Reebok and then moved to adidas and now works on the manufacturing side.
Growing up though I was always interested in sports product because sport was such a big part of my life. Ice hockey and basketball were my main sports and naturally I would geek out on the product. However, it wasn’t until college when I started playing more basketball that I started to really get into footwear.
I would regularly test basketball shoes from every brand and try to understand what made a product good or bad. The passion for footwear was then solidified when I interned at a footwear supplier in Vietnam and learned what it really took to create just one pair of shoes.
LANE EIGHT – James: Like Josh mentioned, we grew up immersed in the footwear industry.
When I was younger I never appreciated the ‘culture’ and to be honest, I was pretty removed from it since we were moving around every 2 years or so.
That being said, I was always drawn to shoes, but it wasn’t until our father left Adidas that I was really free to explore and indulge my passion since I was no longer limited to wearing shoes from one brand.
When I moved back to Hong Kong after college, I started working for Hypebeast and in my mind that gave me all the justification I needed to really dive deep into my shoe obsession.
IDYSM: Please give us some info on your careers at adidas and HYPEBEAST and how that led you to where you are right now.
LANE EIGHT – Josh: Before LANE EIGHT I was working at adidas as a Footwear Developer based in Ho Chi Minh City. I was basically driving out to our suppliers everyday, working with the factory teams to turn 2D designs from our HQ in Germany to physical 3D samples. And in the process, I was touching on everything from development, product testing, planning, costing, to production.
That experience of actually creating product is what allowed us to create the AD 1. Its one thing to be able to sketch a shoe, but to create a manufacturable shoe is a different animal all together. I have no design background, but from my experience I was able to create a tech pack (the shoe blueprints) that the factory could read to create the exact shoe we wanted.
LANE EIGHT – James: I joined Hypebeast when I moved back to Hong Kong after a year working in the States post-college. At first I was an editorial assistant and it was a really interesting time to be at the company.
I think because of my background and knowledge of footwear I naturally moved into covering a lot of the footwear news for HB and it was a real opener in terms of how shoes are marketed, and the trends and happenings in the footwear space.
Covering the footwear space really cemented my desire to work in the footwear industry, and when Josh left Adidas, we knew it was the right time to pursue something a bit ambitious – starting our own footwear brand.
IDYSM: Speaking of where we are right now, what is the current status of the sneaker industry for you right now?
LANE EIGHT – Josh: It seems to be a bit rudderless at the moment.
We’ve just come off of a few straight years built of hype, driven primarily by adidas, and to a lesser degree, Nike.
But its clear to see that the hype is now dissipating.
High fashion has entered the scene to a certain degree, but on the whole the sneaker industry seems to have hit a wall. And thats why you’re starting to see newer brands such as ourselves and “alternative” footwear brands such as Allbirds come more into the mainstream.
LANE EIGHT – James: I think things have become a little overplayed in terms of hype, and I’ve become tired of seeing the same silhouettes beaten to death.
At the same time, it felt like these ‘hyped’ and so-called ‘limited’ sneakers were cropping up everywhere, and it felt like a million new ‘hypebeasts’ were emerging everyday.
I think its tiring for everyone – this constant cycle of “here’s the newest hot model, you need this” repeated ad nauseam. I think people are looking for new options, and we thought we could fill a gap in the way we approached development and design differently, as well as the way we communicated with our fans and customers.
IDYSM: Why and how did you feel inspired to enter the industry and how did Lane Eight come to exist?
LANE EIGHT: We really felt that the shoe we wanted to wear would never be made by the big guys because of category constraints i.e. you make running shoes, or training shoes, or basketball shoes not something that can d oa bit of everything.
We also felt that there were very few, if any, independent footwear brands that could make the kind of legitimate performance shoe that we envisioned.
We officially started LANE EIGHT in May, 2017 with an idea for a stylish, comfortable, and ultimately, functional multi-purpose shoe.
IDYSM: What makes you so unique?
LANE EIGHT: It’s a combination of performance, materials, tech, and aesthetic.
From the very beginning we’ve been focused on combining all of the above into one cohesive package.
We felt that no shoe out there really ticked all the boxes the way we wanted – a shoe that looks good enough to wear casually, with a minimal yet considered design, great colors and materials, and the functionality to carry us through our day – from the gym to the office to the bar after work.
IDYSM: Why was now the right time to do this?
LANE EIGHT: There’s no time like the present! We’d had this idea for a while and there will always be excuses and reasons for not doing but things came together in the sense that we had the time, the money, and a great idea.
IDYSM: Your AD-1 shoe sums up much of what your company about. Can you please tell us how you came to design the shoe, and what you hope to achieve with it?
LANE EIGHT: The design was a result of us looking at our own habits.
For myself, I was wearing one pair of shoes to go to the gym in the morning, another pair to go to work, yet another pair to shoot around or go for a run during my lunch break, and sometimes a fourth shoe for going out after work.
3-4 pairs a day just seemed so excessive, so naturally there was the question of how can you take all the best elements of these different types of footwear categories and put them into one shoe. That was the starting point.
With the shoe we hope to show the market that there are legitimate performance alternatives to the big brand, and at the same time, that you don’t have to serve one specific niche to grow in the performance footwear space.
IDYSM: Where did you seek inspiration from?
LANE EIGHT: Everyday Athletes.
The average person/young person who lives a multifaceted lifestyle, which is made up of a few core pillars, one of which is fitness/health.
We looked at millennials who are on their grind while still trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle by going to the gym, eating well, and looking for new experiences. So we wanted to create a versatile product that would allow this person to move seamlessly through their day.
IDYSM: The notion of 1 shoe to cater for all our needs is refreshing for the consumer (just think of all the time we will save each morning), but how disruptive could that notion be to the industry?
LANE EIGHT: Very, that was the goal from the beginning.
The big sportswear companies today are segmented into categories with clear cut boundaries that dictate what kind of product can and cannot be created, and how that product can be marketed.
But the reality is that the everyday person doesn’t need a shoe for every specific sport/movement.
We wanted to create a product that would allow people to do everything they normally would in their day-to-day lives, whether thats running errands around town, going for a run, to the gym, or for drinks with friends.
IDYSM: Do you think the industry could benefit from some disruption right now though?
LANE EIGHT: Absolutely, the footwear industry needs it. The market now is so saturated with the same old overly hyped product.
As consumers, we were looking for something different from the same old Nike, adidas product, with the same old extreme athlete messaging.
We believe that theres a need for a brand that caters to the everyday person who’s life isn’t defined by just one aspect, be that sport or anything else.
People today are much more multi dimensional than in the past and there is a need for a brand that speaks to people who are invested in a variety of activities.
IDYSM: What has the initial reaction been like?
LANE EIGHT: Very positive. We just had our first pop up in HK a couple months back and people were blown away.
We’re about to host our second pop up with our new colors and people are getting very excited to be able to try on the new shoes.
IDYSM: What are your future plans?
LANE EIGHT: We’ll be growing our range with a new model next year, as well as some really awesome colorways. At the same time, we’re expanding our physical retail footprint so people can try on shoes to find their fit – always a tough one with a new brand.
IDYSM: We try to end all of our ‘In Your Shoes’ interviews with this question…what’s on your feet right now?
LANE EIGHT – Josh: Carbon Black Trainer AD 1
LANE EIGHT – James: Indigo Blue Trainer AD 1 of course!