Are Roller Skate Shoes Due For A Comeback?
First, came the light-on sneaker revival. And now, the nostalgia for roller skates has once again caught on. From Charlotte Olympia to Saint Laurent and Veja, designers are playfully mounting sneakers to four wheels, with varying results. But the question is: are these lo-fi retro rollers collectables or wearables?
For her resort ’18 collection, Olympia Dellal released a witty take rife with rainbows, metallic laces and glitter wheels. They are very charming, but don’t look exactly prepared to contend with city streets or replace one’s metrocard.
Ethically-minded French sneaker brand Veja took a crack at the skater shoe too, recently releasing an impressively-engineered sneaker with removable wheels in collaboration with Flaneurz, a clever new snap-on roller skate label that came to market last year. It was started by four friends – Florian Gravier, Arnaud Darut, Walid Nouh and David Brun – with a passion for reviving the category. To date, their retro roller skates are sold on their site as well as a slew of influential boutiques such as Colette, Merci, Citadium, Le Refuge, Alex Eagle Studio and Anthom NYC.
How did the collaboration with Veja come about? And why did you want to collaborate with them?
“The Veja X Flaneurz adventure started in June 2015. Back then, Veja was already one of the first brands that had faith in us. Veja’s concept store “Centre Commercial” commercialized the Pantanal model, a dress shoe, during it’s fall ’13 collection. This model was turned into Flaneurz rollerskates during our crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter. This joint adventure is now taking an even greater and stronger dimension. We share the same values with Veja.”
How did the idea for Flaneurz come about? And how long did it take to develop your On Wheelz?
“The idea came from the mind of our co-founder, Florian. He has always been a huge fan of roller skating — he was even making his own roller skates when he was younger. He also pays great attention to detail and style, that’s why he thought about fancy sneakers that could be turned into roller skates. It took three years of research and development to come to this product.”
What are your professional backgrounds and how did that bring you to roller skates?
“Florian has a rider past. He is part of SkateXpress, a roller dance crew. He has learned communication and traveled a lot before meeting Arnaud and starting the Flaneurz story. Arnaud has an engineer formation from the Arts et Métiers. He worked in different areas as diverse as connected objects and [the] perfume industry.”