Matt Chevallard is the founder of Del Toro, a line of shoes that all began with a slipper. Over the years, he’s managed to build his brand (and his street cred) due to his creations originality, authenticity, and badass style. Here, the founder breaks it down for us, one kick at a time.
Life+Times: Originally a men’s brand, Del Toro now produces shoes and accessories for both men and women. What was the mission behind setting up your company in 2005?
Matt Chevallard: Originally the mission was to provide affordable customized slippers with a quick turnaround time. As the brand has evolved, today’s mission is to revisit classics infusing them with Del Toro DNA.
L+T: How has it changed in the eight years you’ve been in business?
MC: I am the only active founder and have taken on the role as President and Creative Director. The brand has grown tremendously and continues to evolve. What started off as an e-commerce operation, Del Toro has expanded into the wholesale realm and can be found in over 12 Saks Fifth Avenue doors, Barney’s New York, Harvey Nichols [in] London and Hong Kong, Matches London, Colette, The Webster, Five Story NY, and other local and international retailers.
L+T: It all started with a pair of affordable yet customized velvet slippers. What is it about this style that provided the foundation for your line?
MC: It came about through a void and need. I felt there were not enough high-end, unique, exclusive shoes for men. There’s also such a high price barrier for handmade products, especially in the velvet slipper realm.
L+T: All your products are hand made on the Adriatic Coast of Italy, and are constructed of the finest Nappa leathers, suedes, and velvets. What’s your creative process like?
MC: I always look for unique materials to apply to the classic silhouettes. For instance, our 3M (reflective material) and Sunbrella (water repellant material) series. You will see a lot of texture, prints, and color for 2013.
L+T: You’ve said your line is geared towards “grown up sneaker heads.” What do you mean by this?
MC: The grown up sneaker head still craves unique sneakers; however, he/she has matured and needs a sneaker with sophistication. Del Toro offers fresh sneakers with wild colors and materials that are also sophisticated and mature.
L+T: How does both Miami and Italian culture influence your design aesthetic?
MC: My upbringing plays a huge role in my inspiration for the Del Toro brand. I was born in Italy, grew up in Palm Beach, and attended boarding school in the North East. Living in Miami I am inspired by the melting pot of cultures the city has to offer and the colorful street art in the Wynwood neighborhood. I fuse together classic Italian elegance with American prep and Japanese/New York streetwear to create a fresh take on the classic silhouettes.
L+T: You’ve put forth a slew of shoe collaborations. Can you tell us a little bit about these?
MC: I enjoy collaborating with different artists, musicians, designers, etc. The collaborations expose Del Toro to new audiences. Most recently Del Toro teamed up with Theophilus London for a second edition of Del Toro x LVRS slippers.
L+T: What are you currently working on? What’s next for the brand?
MC: Currently I am working on the Fall 2013 collection. As for what’s next for the brand…stay tuned – there are big things to come!