On a particularly sunny Los Angeles day in 2006, Kevin Carney (on the left) and Brandon Day were talking about what it meant to be an adult over a nice bottle of red. After a few glasses, it was clear that no man could call himself an adult without a serious pair of shoes. Well-made and comfortable, but not too showy. The result was The Generic Man, which has quickly garnered a following with the style set. The shoes often find their way onto the runways (this season, it was Shipley & Halmos and Loden Dagger) and the guys collaborate with designer friends like Steven Alan. We caught up with Carney in his backyard where, ironically, he was barefoot.
Take us back. How did The Generic Man come to be?
We'd both traveled a lot and sensed this huge gap. We liked Italian craftsmanship but the shape, color or details were always a bit off. So we journeyed to Italy for four months hoping to put a collection together. Along the way we were introduced to some of the best last makers and shoe craftsmen in the world. But we still had to make the shoes affordable to our customers. So we set off to Portugal with all of the contacts we made in Italy for leathers, components, and soles and we settled down in Porto to create the final collection.
Sportsman Low-top, $260
What were you guys doing before TGM?
I had started a menswear brand called Generic Costume in New York back in 1997. I was making ends meet by doing creative consulting for brands like Stussy and C&C California, DJing and refinishing furniture. Brandon was creating catalogs for American Apparel.
And you're based here in LA. What effect does Cali living have on your design?
I get a lot of inspiration from flea markets and thrift shops. Seeing what happened in the past and giving it a new life. There is so much design information from the past that I sometimes have a hard time coming up with anything new.
Classic Chuckman, $265
Is that how your re-Edit series came about?
Yeah, I have a garage full of vintage jackets and I thought why not send some of these to our factory and have them cut a military jacket the same way you would cut a skin of leather? They always cut around imperfections and I told them to cut into the imperfections so it would really show the character of the materials.
Like the pre-scuffed shoes you did with Steven Alan.
Right. I felt that the shoes were just too crisp and needed a little distressing and ageing. We let our factory hand paint the shoes for effect. The Italian canvas we used lends itself to being painted, so it seems to work very well.
The Generic Man for Steven Alan, $225
What are the most important qualities you value in a shoe?
The leathers, last (the overall shoe shape) and ease of integrating them into your wardrobe.
So what's up next for you guys?
Well, our women's shoes are really taking off and we just launched the diffusion line. I've also opened a small retail shop here in Echo Park called Mohawk General Store where we carry a full range of Generic Man shoes.
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