Founded in Denmark in 1963, ECCO is now the world’s 2nd largest manufacturer of casual footwear. With their Scandinavian roots comes a design ethos that favors clean, simple lines, and attention to detail. To celebrate their 50th anniversary last month, chief designer Niki Tæstensen created the MIND, a modern shoe that evokes ECCO’s past while reminding us that they’re poised to take on the future.
After making 350 million pairs of shoes, you can be assured that ECCO knows a thing or two about how to do it right. Owning their own factories and tanneries allows them to minimize their environmental impact, but also gives them unparalleled quality control of the entire production process, especially with their leathers. One look at the camel nubuck upper of the MIND, and you’ll understand why ECCO’s tanneries are the suppliers to other industries that want to utilize the finest leathers available. Luxuriously soft, they offer the comfort of a well worn shoe from day one. This comfort extends to the flexible sole that allows your foot to move naturally. Between them lies a 2mm foam footbed topped with leather that is perforated from the ball of the foot forward, allowing for moisture control, and breathability. High contrast stitching is an attractive design feature, but must be done right, as if it’s just the slightest bit uneven, it will stand out. All the stitching on the MIND was pleasantly uniform, no doubt in part due to the fact that 210 ECCO employees handle each pair before you try them on.
As expected, walking in them is something of an indulgence. The day they arrived, I had ridden my motorcycle to work, and welcomed the opportunity to exchange my hard-soled boots for soft and supple shoes. It’s certainly understandable that they would be more soothing to my feet, but in the following days, I put them on around 5:30AM, and didn’t remove them until after midnight. Despite long hours and quite a bit of walking, my feet still felt fresh, without any aches. One observation I find very interesting is that the first two people to ask about them were a flight attendant and a hotel employee, both of whom spend most of their workday on their feet. Apparently, those in the know recognize a shoe that looks as comfortable as it feels. Speaking of looks, the ECCO MIND is available in special anniversary colors – Black, Medieval (an awesome blue), Cocoa Brown, and Earth Brown in men’s sizes 9/9.5-12/12.5, or EU 40-46. Ladies sizes are 5/5.5-10/10.5, which is EU 36-41. They lose the brown options, but gain Fuchsia and Shadow White. All of them include a pair of cream colored laces, in addition the yellow/orange shown.
Watching the videos produced for their 50th anniversary celebration, I couldn’t help but feel that a good part of their success comes from the company culture itself. Still family-owned, ECCO considers their 20,000 worldwide employees as part of the family. That seems to extend across all job classes, resulting in pride of workmanship simply not found in other brands. And a glimpse into the workspace of the designers reveals a clean and modern office with sharp angles and natural materials that both contrasts and exists in harmony with nature. Looking across the Danish countryside through those huge windows must be relaxing and inspiring. It’s no surprise that their footwear reflects the same characteristics, and is surely one of the reasons they’ve been so popular with outdoors enthusiasts as well as fashion-conscious consumers that live active lifestyles. ecco.com