As avid sandal wearers, Richard Tsen and Alfies Lu actually struggled to find open-toed shoes that could fit them well. Most of the brands available in the market are from European manufacturers with larger foot sizes, which can be uncomfortable for Asian feet.
Not to mention that they were expensive and easily prone to wear and tear in a short period of time.
“We treat open-toed shoes with the same respect as sneakers and moccasins. Imagine our frustration and horror at the way the general male population abuses and ignores slip-ons as part of their shoe collections, ”Richard told Vulcan Post.
So, with experience in original equipment manufacturing (OEM) for local shoemakers and Richard’s knowledge as a fashion franchise speaker, they launched their own footwear brand, Projet1826.
A market that lives up to its name
The name of Projet1826 was born around a beer during the happy hour between the co-founders of Sabahan. It was exactly 6:26 p.m. when Richard and Alfies both decided to launch their own brand of sandals in 2019.
Its name and founding story even suited the brand’s target consumers: office executives outside of normal office hours ditching closed-toe leather shoes for something more comfortable like sandals. “This is where Projet1826 plays the perfect role to meet these needs,” added Richard.
Moreover, while it is common to see working class men dressing in leather shoes as part of their office attire, this is generally not the case for those who work in the urban environment. startups.
Richard and Alfies believe the latter group shouldn’t have to rely on formal shoes to prove themselves. The sandals, while comfortable and breathable, are also stylish and just as good; they can be worn as everyday shoes throughout the working day.
Casual chic and comfort are their top priority, according to the team. “Slip-ons have become the essential footwear for everyone, and Projet1826 serves just that,” explained Richard.
Sustainability in their raw materials
As Projet1826’s sandals are made in part with recycled plastic and rubber, their team is aware of sustainability in the production of the sandals. On the one hand, the brand is working with a private rubber farm in Ipoh, Perak, to purchase the farm’s unused leftover rubber milk that is often considered waste.
This is because there tends to be an excess of latex dripping from the cans that are used to collect the milky liquid from the rubber trees. Instead of throwing away the leftovers, Projet1826 uses them to make their shoes.
The idea of doing so was actually suggested to Richard and Alfies by their own shoe suppliers, who initially struggled to meet the brand’s high demands for milk rubber to produce the outsoles for the sandals. Armed with this new knowledge, the co-founders decided to buy the raw materials directly from the local rubber tappers and deliver them to their suppliers.
“A simple but effective measure of which we are very proud,” said Richard.
The current iteration is supposed to make the outsoles of the sandals more flexible and able to withstand the humidity of the country. The brand also claims that it makes them less prone to mold.
Projet1826’s eco-responsibility also extends to its shoe boxes, made of 70% recycled paper.
If the shoe fits
To ensure their sandals are glass slippers suitable for the feet of most Malaysians, Project1826 has a variety of Asian foot shapes for different types of feet, from wide feet and wide toes to heavy heeled types of feet. and lean.
Dictionary time: A foot form is a mechanical wooden form in the shape of a human foot used by shoemakers to make shoes.
In addition, all sandal models are fitted to live models to test their comfort before approval and production. The latter process takes up to 45 days before being listed on their website, which is also updated with new models every month.
Each pair of sandals can cost between RM169-269 without promotions, a bit more economical compared to the well-known brands Birkenstock and Clark.
Due to the brand’s lack of skilled artisans to make the shoes, Projet1826 does not currently take orders for custom sandals. In the future, Richard expressed his desire to enter foreign markets. To achieve this, the team worked with overseas resellers as well as trade show organizers and councils like the Hong Kong Trade Development Board to promote Project1826.
- You can read more about Projet1826 here.
- You can read about other Malaysian startups here.
Image Credit Featured: Richard Tsen and Alfies Lu, co-founders of Projet1826
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