About this project
Hello. We're ATHEIST Shoes and we're excited to tell you about our newest project... to create what is probably the world's highest quality, most fetchingly minimalist sneaker!
But first, let us tell you our backstory....
The world's #1 non-believing footwear brand... and it all happened thanks to Kickstarter!
Back in 2012, we nervously shuffled onto the shoemaking stage, with a rather peculiar idea for a project.
We were a gaggle of hobbyist shoemakers, who also happened to be atheists. And we thought it might be potent and endearing to put those two things together, to create an ATHEIST Shoe.
So we did... we designed a fetching shoe with minimalist Bauhaus-inspired good looks, and we gave it a poignant sole, subtly declaring ICH BIN ATHEIST and visible to the world whenever one makes footprints or sits with legs crossed.
For us, this was nothing more than a whimsical little folly... until a picture of our ATHEIST shoe made the front page of Reddit and, overnight, hundreds of people got in touch, asking to have the shoes.
We had no money, no plan, no means to produce shoes on a big scale... it was all a bit daunting. But Kickstarter came to the rescue, giving us the means to manage the interest and raise funds to make a first batch of shoes.
Five years on and our shoes have graced thousands of feet, all around the globe. They've helped a teenage atheist in Kansas come out to his Evangelical parents, they've helped a shy German couple strike up a conversation and subsequently get married, they've inspired an FBI investigation into discrimination against atheists in the US Postal service, and they've broken new ground in comfort and minimalism, challenging the most experienced shoemakers and outperforming most other shoes.
"They come for the atheism, they stay for the shoe."
We were rather chuffed with the reaction to our provocative, postmodern branding.... surely ATHEIST would be the most polarising rebel brand in history!?
But the real story was in the shoe. It wasn't intentional, but our simple Bauhaus design, and our insistence on using only the finest leathers, combined to create a ridiculously comfy shoe.
We were flattered when our first Kickstarter backers told us our shoes were the most comfortable they'd ever worn. And it slowly dawned on us that we might have a lasting business on our hands.
What do you do when you've made the most comfy shoe in the known universe? Why you make an even COMFIER one!
Ladies & Gentlemen....
We're smitten with this sneaky so-&-so, our latest evolution of the original ATHEIST design. And we have a hunch it's the most hight quality and minimalistic sneaker EVER created.
A little about DAS SNEAKER: It's much like our original shoe, but has some cunning deviations...
1) more EVA cushioning beneath the heel - to give more bounce and 1cm additional height to the wearer.
2) a rubber sole that is 2mm thinner, for greater flexibility... so you can really run in these sneakers, if you have to!
3) a lip of sole curving over the toe, for added protection and a classic 1970s sneaker look, finished with a hard-wearing traditional blake stitch.
We'll have a few sole options, including an evolution of our original ICH BIN ATHEIST design, and something more neutral.
The rest of the sneaker is as sumptuous as our existing shoe: calfskin lining, nubuck or napa upper, the exact same fit, and our "secret sauce"... the bauhaus design features that facilitate greater comfort.
Reassuringly High Costs of Production
Down the years, some of our shoe customers told us "if only my adidas or converse had this quality of materials... that'd be just wow".
Well, if the big sneaker brands are too lazy and penny-pinching to source great materials, that leaves a nice open door for us.
We'd like to re-set expectations as to what a sneaker can be, by using a higher grade of material than anyone else. We estimate that no other sneaker on the planet will cost more to produce than ours (save for stupid luxury rapper nonsense with diamonds and unicorn feathers and such).
And, while the sneaker world might think us naive, we think our high costs are a virtue... everyone is fairly paid and our customer gets the highest quality possible.
But what really makes us the most guilt-free sleepers in the sneaker multiverse, is that we don't pass our high costs on to our customers - we don't need to because we don't work with middlemen. We sell only direct to our end-customers, with our retail price just high enough that our company can stay afloat and continue making shoes. DAS SNEAKER might fetch $600 in Barneys, but that kind of price just feels wrong to us.
If you're curious where your money goes, when you buy a pair of DAS SNEAKERs, it's something like this...
Our Craft - preserving traditional shoemaking & staying faithful to the Bauhaus
ATHEIST shoes are designed in Berlin and handmade by a small team of shoemakers in Portugal. We're proud to have stuck to the same small-batch hand production techniques we began with. And also to have kept all parts of the process in Europe, where working conditions are excellent, everyone is fairly paid and the origins of all materials known.
The design is aesthetically minimalist, as we try to remain faithful to Bauhaus principles. We use as few pieces of leather as we can - just 3 pieces of upper leather, whereas most sneaker production will use 10 pieces plus. The sneaker is a an exercise in “form-through-function”, with the wooden last having been inspired by the shape of a real human foot, something which is surprisingly rare in last design. And the shape of the sneaker comes directly from this last, with a slightly rounded toe and slender heel.
The shape lends a great deal to the comfort of the sneaker. But so does the leather we use – Nubuck, Napa and Pull-up Full-grain – all natural and unprocessed, only vegetable dyed and gently tumbled for added softness. Despite that softness, these leathers are as robust as any, and will keep your feet warm and dry in the winter, cool and airy in the summer. Our sneakers are fully lined with calfskin – a quite astoundingly silky feeling for the foot.
When we started out, we fell in love with these leathers. Yet we were told they were “too good to be used in shoes”... that their quality wouldn’t be appreciated. Well, poppycock to that… we’ve used the best materials we can find and our customers think it was worth it.
Midst all this talk of leather, please know that we also make vegan-friendly sneakers! If you would like to have vegan friendly, just choose the appropriate reward on the right... the colour options may not be so great, but we so guarantee you any colour you want, as long as it's black.
The soles of the shoe are made from a natural rubber, which is hard-wearing yet comfy. We Blake-stitch it, for added security. And the unique message on the underside is created with a metal mould.
New sole moulds - the chief investment we'll make if our Kickstarter is successful
A metal sole mould is always the most expensive part of the shoemaking process and we need to make new ones, if we're going to be able to make sneakers efficiently. So far, we've adapted our existing atheist shoe sole mould, but that's an expensive and wasteful process.
A new sole mould will also allow us offer different sole designs- so those of you who aren't atheists, or who just fancy something different, will have wider choice.
What do you get if you back us?
If you back us, you'll be able to choose from at least 20 colours.
We'll have 3 leather options and 1 vegan-friendly material.
And you can have any of at least 3 different sole designs:
- an evolution of our classic ICH BIN ATHEIST sole
- a more neutral gemoetric design, inspired by the Bauhaus
- And our tribute to the golden records of the Voyager spacecraft
We're still finalising these, but you'll be shown all the sole designs before you have to make a choice.
Sizing is Easy
Please don't worry about sizing. We'll ask you to measure your feet and then a simple mathematical equation will tell us your size. We've gained a lot of experiencing sizing feet over the last 5 years and this method has served us well - it's correct 94% of the time - and, even if your measurements are a shade off, our shoes are so soft that most people can get along fine with a fit that is one size bigger or smaller than ideal. Furthermore, simply removing or adding a footbed serves as a good proxy for going up or down a half-size.
As for the sizes we can make, we've historically made every size between European 35 and 51 (that's from size 4 US women's to size 17 US men's). So the chances are we have you covered... and we could in theory make bigger, or smaller, if you need us to.
As for width, we make one width of sneaker, HOWEVER our sneakers get along fine with most widths of foot - very narrow to very wide. This is mainly due to the pliability of the soft leather we us, and the lack of any rigid structures on either side of the sneaker. Meanwhile, full-length lacing allows one to adjust the snugness of fit - a wider foot can lace with the sides of the sneaker further apart, whilst a narrower foot can bring the sides closer together. In general, we recommend wider feet move up 1 size larger than their foot length dictates - that little bit of extra length ( just .6cm) causes no problems, whilst the extra volume can make a big difference. Plus the removal or addition of footbeds can help bring the shoe to a comfortable volume.
Ultimately, we'll help you with all this sizing stuff... we've been doing it for years and we'd be delighted to check over your measurements and share our experience!
What our customers say...
We've had 1000s of customers downs the years, and we encourage you to check out their comments about our shoes.
So far, the feedback on our first sneaker prototoypes has been very encouraging - we just might have succeeded in making something more comfy than our ridiculously comfy shoes!
Risks and challenges
We don't really have many risks this time out. After 5 years spent learning and experiencing what can go wrong in small batch shoe production, we can anticipate and control for all the issues we might face.
For example, there could be a delay in producing our pull-up leather, as Northern European leather production can move slowly, but we have more than one supplier, so that wouldn't be difficult to navigate.
Or it could happen that China decides to buy up a load of Portuguese Nubuck, driving up the price. However, we've bought some reserves, so we think we could cope with a temporary drought.
It could also happen that there's a production bottleneck, due to our shoemakers having taken on too much business (understandable, as the opposite problem happens all too frequently). It can happen - we work with these guys because they're great shoemakers, not because of their project management skills - but we've learned to calculate an extra month in our projected delivery times, to control for delays.
All in all, backing our sneaker is a safe bet. The worst that will happen is that we deliver 3 or 4 weeks later than we've estimated. But you will most definitely receive your reward.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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