Darin Hager, creator of Heyday footwear, strives to reinvent the styles and silhouettes of the sneakers he and his team create every season. You see something new and creative every season; whether it be their Summer release of the successful Nooka collaboration, or if it their boots for the Holiday season. Either way, its hard to compete with fresh footwear like that of Heyday. Recently, I caught up with Darin and talked in-depth about he and his successful brand; Heyday.
Mike B: Heyday has been out since 2006, and each year the footwear becomes more creative; what inspires you to create new footwear styles?
Darin: My inspiration is very selfish; what I want to wear is just not being done by other brands. As a professional designer, I’m not looking to only create a new color way or use a new material; I look to reinvent the footwear silhouette with every design.
Mike B: It seems as if Heyday has been large in the footwear world for a while now; are there any companies you want to/or are collaborating with in the future?
Darin: We’ve been out for 3 years now and 2009 has been tremendous for us in terms of sales, design, and market visibility. We had our first collaboration hit retail in July 2009 with Nooka. Their watches are very progessive, not only in their design but how they actually tell time. Their design ethos fit in very well with ours and the Super Deb Nooka in Black sold out quickly at SF2 in Houston (Nooka’s String Theory pattern from their Zenh collection was screen printed onto our patent leather). For Spring 2010 we are bringing back the black patent Super Deb and adding a white patent version to the mix.
We have 4 very high profile “Collaborative Effort” projects for July 2010. We’ve partnered with incredible brands like Sugar Cane Denim Co. from Tokyo on a 3 boot collection utilizing their selvedge denim and designs in all new ways. This is a truly innovative collaboration that will make selvedge denim/ workwear aficionado’s drool. We also have a truly innovative 2 shoe collection with Wrath Arcane, my favorite contemporary apparel brand. Wrath Arcane will launch the collection at New York Fashion Week with a spread in Women’s Wear Daily. We have a great waxed canvas version of our Super Smooth Boot with Homeroom Clothing out of San Francisco. Finally, Miss Wax a super street jewelry and accessory brand out of LA collaborated with us on 2 exclusive Super Shifts for our new Women’s Collection that drops this Summer. We’ll be debuting all of these Collaborative Efforts at The Project Show in Las Vegas February 16th-18th.
Mike B: What can you say is your favorite shoe that you have created?
Darin: Tough question! I love them all but 3 stand out for me right now. The Super Shift we did with Wrath Arcane is incredible. It seamlessly combines the design aesthetic of both brands.
The Johnny K boot with Sugar Cane is really, really cool and will appeal to the guy into selvedge denim/workwear, and the Ruby Python Super Shift Premiums stop people in their tracks. No joke.
Mike B: Lately, high-tops and straps have been the new fad and trend in footwear; what do you see as a possible new, influential trend in the future?
Darin: We will continue to innovate in the sneaker world with and without hi-tops and straps but we’re keeping true to the original inspiration for the brand, workwear. We have a large collection of boots, chukkas, and lows that play in the casual category for BTS 2010, all with that unmistakable Heyday DNA.
Mike B: Other than Heyday, what footwear companies or designers do you see really making a push in 2010?
Darin: I don’t really pay alot of attention to other footwear brands, but I like some of what Android Homme is doing, feel a certain kinship towards Kris Van Assche’s solo line and look forward to getting my hands on some Wrath Arcane apparel.
Mike B: Do you converse or speak with any other footwear creators; if so, can you give us a few name drops?
Darin: I’m not sure that it qualifies as name dropping, but a few of my good friends in the biz over the past 13 years are Mark Eggert, design director at Fila, John Kraljevich design director at Steve Madden Men (both of whom have Heyday’s named after them), and Richard Kuchinsky (former design director at Hummel).
Mike B: On your Heyday website, you give a definition and explain what the Heyday name means; how did you come to naming the company “Heyday”?
Darin: I was looking to create a brand name that combined elements of my name, was available to trademark, had an available domain name and whose definition resonated with people who are at the top of their game whatever it may be. It was very challenging to get all of those requirements together. What I like about the name is that it’s definition is very positive, and transcends styles or categories.
Mike B: Let’s go back to your adolescent years; what was your favorite shoe company and favorite shoe when you were younger?
Darin: I was always into fashion but not really into shoes or sneakers when I was younger. I’m proud to say I’m 38 and 20-25 years ago, there was no Internet or sneaker head culture like today. I used to hand paint my Chuck Taylors in high school and loved my Nike Air Revolutions in 1987. Other than that I don’t really have alot of lasting shoe memories.
Mike B: Do you ever see yourself designing clothing or accessories; or is it strictly footwear?
Darin: The design aesthetic I created for Heyday is easily translated to apparel and accessories and we may look at adding those into the mix down the line.
Mike B: Some companies have been using creative fabrics like pony hair, or epi leather; has Heyday been experimenting with any special fabrics?
Darin: We’re known for using some incredible leathers including our (faux) python that is more beautiful and complex than the real thing. Premium leathers (I mean truly premium), original designs + constructions, and comfort features are the backbone of the Heyday brand…You’ll see more of the same in 2010 and beyond.
Mike B: Are there any Heyday team members you would like to give a shout out to?
Darin: Big shout out to my right hand man Clint Miller who is my National Sales Manager, sounding board, design critic, enforcer and therapist rolled in one. My Taiwanese development manager David Lee is fantastic and a great development resource. I have a great partnership with my boutique factory in China and their willingness to help me push the design envelope is priceless.
We just entered into a long term agreement with a UK distributor called Refuel who will carry Heyday all throughout Europe beginning in March 2010. Peter Lee, the founder of Refuel is the former COO of New Era Europe and has extensive experience as a product marketer in the EU. We are very excited about entering the European market with Peter and his team.
There are also a growing number of retailers who have supported the brand and are a vital part of its continued success. Teresa Walden from SF2 in Houston, Tarik Hassan from The Tannery in Boston and Michael Mentie and Brent Legaspi at Revolveclothing.com have really helped to push Heyday into new directions.
Mike B: Lastly, what is your new year’s resolution?
Darin: I haven’t made one yet…too busy running Heyday!
I’d really like to thank Darin for this interview, Heyday is one of the brands revolutionizing sneaker silhouette’s and it will never stop. Make sure you stay tuned for follow up interviews and shoe reviews on Heyday, they’ll be coming very soon. Head over to Heyday’s website and you can purchase your pair right there.