Xcalibur Shoes: celebrating tradition and innovation in men’s footwear

While recently browsing through a number of websites on a personal quest to find examples of original footwear, I came across Xcalibur Shoes. The brainchild of Vijay Freeman (whose family has been producing shoes since 1960), Xcalibur was conceived in Los Angeles with the intention to provide high-quality and yet affordable handmade shoes featuring exclusive designs and uppers made from Italian Vero Cuoio and exotic leathers (including calfskin, ostrich, crocodile).

Focussing  on thorough production methods (including a 183-step process that requires 90 sets of hands working each pair of shoes over 4 hours), Xcalibur has developed updated versions of conventional men’s footwear staples such as lace-ups, brogues, monk shoes, boots, loafers, driving shoes and sneakers. However, what caught my attention while examining the brand’s collections was the range of details that Freeman has incorporated into his shoes (such as laces in contrasting colours and art work by Emmeric Konrad printed on the leather soles), and the inventive Hybrids range that fuses traditional formal shapes with design details from sports shoes in the ‘Hybrid Air’ and the ‘Junior Booty’ models. Furthermore, its approach to branding and intention to branch into other areas of men’s fashion and lifestyle make Xcalibur stand out in the contemporary men’s footwear market.

Like the name of the brand itself, Xcalibur models are named after characters and legends from ancient English literature and culture (including Guinevere, Sir Launcelot, Morgan Le Fay, Vice Chair, Serpent and Lady of the Lake) perhaps with the intention to conjure an image of tradition and old-worldly historical significance. In addition to its collections of shoes, Xcalibur also produces T-shirts, hoodies and hats, and embraces social causes by supporting start-up entrepreneurship. But the factors that make Xcalibur Shoes different in the market may also be challenges to its success. As the contemporary design of the shoes speak for themselves, the emphasis on medieval names seems unnecessary and, in some ways, diverts the attention from the products. Additionally, by offering a small line of branded garments and accessories, the brand can be perceived as being too ambitiously stretched in different directions in its early stages.

All in all, for the investment in good design and skillful manufacturing that underpin production processes, Xcalibur Shoes is a men’s footwear brand that deserves to thrive. I, for one, am certainly keeping an eye on its original designs and look forward to many successful ranges of innovative styles.