With independent footwear brands popping up everywhere, newcomers to the game have to make sure they’re offering something different if they’re to stay afloat in the vast, vegetable-tanned ocean. One brand doing just that is Opie Way. Based out of Asheville, North Carolina, Opie Way is a leather goods brand centered on offering high quality, re-craftable leather sneakers and moccasins.
In addition to their robustly crafted leather footwear, Opie Way has a growing roster of leather goods ranging from bags to belts and keychains. We got chatting to Opie Way to get the lowdown on the brand, how it started, and where it’s going.
Background of Opie Way
Opie Way was founded in 2019 by husband and wife Justin and Amanda James. Justin had a longstanding passion for sneakers and had initially dreamed of designing for Nike one day, but after learning about the conditions of overseas factories used by the sportswear conglomerate, his dream evolved. He decided he wanted to learn how to craft shoes from the sole up, rather than designing something that would be mass-produced by someone far away, who was overworked and underpaid.
Justin had been building sneakers in their apartment on vintage machines for over five years before realizing that it was something he and Amanda could progress to a full-scale operation. The duo drew inspiration from craft industries like selvedge denim and coffee and decided that if they made the nicest sneaker possible in slow fashion—the right consumers will appreciate their direction.
In January 2019, Justing and Amanda purchased their first batch of factory machines and moved into their Asheville factory the following month. After spending months studying the art of shoe construction, Opie Way launched its first collection in November 2019.
Philosophy of Opie Way
Justin and Amanda started Opie Way because they believe in building products that get better with age. They also saw a huge need for American made sneakers to pair with selvedge denim and other quality clothing already made in the US. Each Opie Way product is cut, sewn, fit, and finished by hand in their Asheville factory.
“Our main goal is to flip the way people think about how shoes are designed, made, worn and loved. With the sneaker being the most worn type of footwear in the US, we want consumers to have a sneaker that they could pair with the other pieces of clothing purchased from quality manufacturers.” – Opie Way
They’re mindful of how production can impact on the environment and have taken steps to improve the sustainability of their brand. All canvas components of Opie Way products are made from vintage military fabric sourced from old military looms. Shoeboxes (which will inevitably get thrown away) have also been scrapped in favor of a reusable canvas shoe bags made from that same vintage military fabric.
When it comes to leather, Opie Way exclusively uses vegetable-tanned leather for all of its products, working closely with tanneries to develop colors and finishes. As well as aging beautifully over time, vegetable-tanned leather is more environmentally friendly than chrome-tanned leather, which feeds into Opie Way’s goal of producing their footwear and accessories sustainably.
Opie Way Products
Each pair of Opie Way sneakers and moccasins is hand crafted to order in the brand’s Asheville microfactory, using stellar construction techniques that make them fully re-soleable. This feature, paired with top-quality leather uppers, means that Opie Way footwear will last for many years to come and look all the better for it.
Shoes are made to order and ship 4-5 weeks from your purchase date, with Opie Way sending you updates as your shoe moves through the production process.
The Haywood Lo is a clean and classic low top sneaker constructed from premium vegetable-tanned leather. Each pair is fully leather lined and comes complete with a replaceable, stitched-through rubber sole unit and a leather heel-pull. The natural colorway pictured above is a patina love story waiting to happen, but the Haywood also comes in other colorways which can be found on their webstore.
Available for $298 from Opie Way
Balsam Moc and Balsam Chukka
As well as sneakers, Opie Way has delved into the indigenous world of the barefoot moccasin. Coming in two models, the Balsam Moc and the Balsam Chukka, Opie Way’s moccasins are handcrafted from the same, top quality leathers as their sneakers, and come in both men’s and women’s sizes. These Moccasins are built for getting stuff done and exploring the great outdoors. Both renditions of the Balsam have a thin and flexible crepe rubber sole that allows you to feel the earth under your feet – the way nature intended.
For more info on Opie Way check out their website.