Common Projects was founded over a decade ago in 2004 by New York based Art Director Prathan Poopat and Italian Creative Consultant Flavio Girolami. The companies name was conceived due to the duo working on a number of 'Common Projects', despite being separated by the Atlantic Ocean.
Their quest for designing the perfect sneaker began in the mid 90's with the frustration of being unable to find a high quality sneaker portraying similar values to the Converse Chuck Taylor and Adidas they were wearing at the time. The first factory that they approached in regards to construction was in the Marche region of Italy. An area where Girolami had previously lived and was the centre for footwear production in the country at the time. The factory had no experience in making sneakers but had specialised in the manufacture of formal dress shoes for over a century. Neither Poopat nor Girolami had came from a shoe design background and had modest intentions of this being a one-off project.
This turned out not to be the case, with the inception of the Achilles Low being a massive success. Poopat recalls "everyone was interested right off the bat". This was aided by a boom in the market of premium sneakers and contemporary menswear, two markets which had been previously under-developed. Appealing to the crowd of the creative with its visually clean aesthetic, sublime quality and supple Nappa Leather uppers the Achilles was quick to find firm footing as a fashion staple. The branding of the sneaker was kept to minimal effect consisting of gold gilding of 10 numbers on the outside heel of each shoe. The numbers are divided into 3 sets each corresponding to the style number, european size and colour. The shoe has a narrow yet long fit with a sturdy foundation, consisting of a hand stitched Margom Cup Sole.
Releasing a womenswear line in 2009 was a development of necessity for the duo. They admitted to this being a tough market the break into at first, but it is now growing quickly and comprising around 30 percent of their current turn over. As proof to this Poopat stated that Net-a-Porter currently held one of the largest accounts with them. The still privately owned company has risen from strength to strength and currently attains over 150 global stockists and generates more than 10 million dollars in annual revenue.
Girolami express's "Our company dosen't really work like a standard company. Most companies have investors - and investors ask. They want to see numbers. On the business plan, they'll have to say you have to grow by 30 percent each year and you have to compromise. we don't have to". I believe this brand ethos of independence and individuality enhances the great appeal Common Projects and its owners posses. It seems Common Projects initial idea "to do something classic and timeless" has been an immense success.
Written by Cal Cowie.