Every designer ambitious enough to create a label imagines his or her garments stocked in stores around the world. That dream has become real for shoe designer Mats Rombaut, as his eco-friendly footwear was endorsed by Comme Des Garçons in Tokyo, Layers in London, and The Number 4 in Kuwait, to name just a few. While his debut Fall/Winter 2013 collection is being shipped to the corners of the world, he's getting ready to present his second collection during the Paris men's collections today.
"What I wanted to do is make more of a statement by going green," says 26-year-old Rombaut of his eponymous line. "I'm wondering what the point of selling faux crocodile bags is; it's still promoting the killing of the animal." He creates his shoes from 100% vegan materials and focused on Ugandan bark cloth in his first collection. As his line grows, his search for other organic fibers continues. "I don't think you have to only think in terms of alternative fabrics—but also in terms of what is a feasible product," he says.
Coming from a line of shoemakers—both his father and grandfather made clogs in his native Belgium—Rombaut also pays great attention to the craftsmanship, and all his shoes are currently produced by hand in Italy. "Shoes are in my DNA. I have been working on shoes since I started in fashion four years ago," says Rombaut. "I try to challenge the rules of traditional shoemaking. I will keep experimenting with new techniques, but the designs will stay minimalistic."
"Walking On Thin Ice" is both the name and the idea behind the collection. Inspired by melting icebergs and the constant climate change caused by the "abuse of nature," Rombaut has created six styles in off-white, baby blue, and black. Featured styles include high-top sneakers, sandals, and lace-up shoes and boots. "This season, the white bark is coming from the mulberry tree, harvested on the islands of the South Pacific. It is called tapa and is used in traditional ceremonies," the designer says, noting that he's also included an organic cotton. Both have been coated with Amazon rubber to ensure waterproofing.
ROMBAUT SPRING/SUMMER 2014 CAN BE SEEN ON MODELS IN FELLOW BELGIAN CEDRIC JACQUEMYN'S SHOW TODAY IN PARIS. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT ROMBAUT'S WEBSITE.