Swedish footwear label, Gram has been quietly yet persistently gathering a cult following since its arrival in 2005. It's the creative outlet of designer Hong Kong-based Alexis Holm, Johan Larsson and their cohort, Anna Stenvi. The shoes themselves are a rare breed of creativity and technical inquisitiveness, married to superior quality of construction, enabled by Gram's in-house research and development work.
Recently, Holm made a rare appearance in Stockholm when Gram's first ever store opened in its hometown. "It's great to be in Hong Kong actually," says Holm. "It puts me really close to our suppliers and production so I can be quicker and more responsive with my design process."
With a range currently numbering 45 variations of its distinctive models, Gram is one of those brands that seems to appeal to a wide range of customers. From those who like how the weight of each shoe's first sample is stamped next to the heel cup, to those who enjoy the sports/formal hybrids with their vibrant, poppy soles. While they have a wide appeal, it's not something Holm and his team necessarily aspire to, "I'd not say we were mass market at all and we definitely don't design for hype or trends as such."
For Holm it's not the finished item that appeals to him most. Like many others of his ilk, he's more interested in the journey, experimentation and exploration surrounding manipulating materials. And living in close proximity to his factories certainly gives Holm the ability to stretch Gram's output, in terms of materials and construction techniques. "I believe that the outsole has to be good. It has to be 50% of the entire shoe and we invest heavily to make sure ours are far and above others on the market. Fully vulcanized or nothing."
Although they're not led by fads, Holm wants to know exactly what's going on in the market, to make sure there aren't any new techniques or materials Gram is missing. Casting an eye over the shelves of its small boutique in the Sodermalm district of central Stockholm, the progression of the brand is clear. From the muted and almost classic stylings of its first models, to its experimentation with printed Liberty-esque fabrics and newer models with sporty-looking soles, one thing all Gram designs boast is a detailing within their clean lines. "People are beginning to realize our shoes can provide a real level of expression and confidence in the wearer," Holm says. With their superior, thought-out construction and bold stylings, Gram certainly allows for certain feet do a higher level of walking.
Gram shoes are available in-store at Södermannagatan 16 in Stockholm and online, with prices starting at 521 SEK (about $80).
Images courtesy of Gram