Camper

Article excerpt

The Spanish footwear brand has grown by offering consistently authentic, yet quirky, designs.

A luxury shoe retailer established by Lorenzo Fluxa in Majorca in 1975, Camper prides itself on its originality and functional design. Having enjoyed success in Spain since opening its first shop in Barcelona in 1981, Camper has become known internationally only in recent years.

The name 'Camper' comes from the Catalan word for 'Countryman', which reflects the original ethos of the brand: to create well-made, country-style shoes for city-dwelling consumers.

Having inherited his grandfather's shoe business, established in 1877, Fluxa found that his friends from mainland Spain admired his peasant style slip-on shoes, and noticed a gap in the market. Bored by the style of his family's company, Fluxa opted to create more contemporary shoes he believed would appeal to a wider audience.

Avoiding trends, Camper has been labelled a 'cultural' rather than 'fashion' brand, a title Fluxa relishes. 'We don't like the fashion world at all. We are trying not to take ourselves too seriously,' he said.

The Camper design is focused on local character and a strong sense of place and individuality, rather than an attempt to keep up with current fashions. Certain styles have become symbolic of the brand's design aesthetic, such as its 'Twins' (above right), where the left and right shoes have different but complementary designs.

The brand began to look beyond Spain only in the early 90s, partly as a result of the Olympic Games being held in Barcelona. Taking advantage of the international attention, Camper marketed itself as an authentic Spanish brand, placing an emphasis on the influence of place and rural identity in the design of the shoes.

Today there are about 80 Camper shops throughout Europe, Australia, Asia and the US. It has enjoyed unprecedented success, in part due to its one-of-a-kind image, but also its lower prices compared with other luxury brands.

Fluxa has been joined by his sons Lorenzo Jr and Miguel in running the company, which has been in the family for four generations and was rewarded with a Spanish National Design Award in 1998, cementing its reputation as both an innovative footwear designer and forward-thinking business.

BRAND LESSON BY SILAS AMOS, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, JKR

Restaurant El Bulli has closed its doors, but that other idiosyncratic Spanish brand, Camper, shows no signs of weariness. …

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