Comfort & Minimal Elegance – the craft behind Atheist Shoes
Inspired by our love of the Bauhaus, and begotten of the finest leathers, we’re really happy with how our shoes turned out and doubly delighted with the feedback we’ve received. Some have told us they’re “the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned”. One customer even said “it’s like walking on hugs from baby kittens!” And the best news is that all ages and types of people seem to like the way they look.
So we wanted to share the thinking behind our shoes – why they are the way they are, what makes them so comfy, and how we make them.
ATHEIST shoes are designed in Berlin and handmade by a small team of shoemakers in Portugal. It was important to us to keep all parts of the process in Europe, where working conditions are excellent, everyone involved is fairly paid and the origins of all materials known.
The design is aesthetically minimalist, as we try to stay faithful to Bauhaus principles. We use as few pieces of leather as we can - just 3 pieces of upper leather, whereas most shoemaking uses 10 pieces plus*. The shoe is a an exercise in “form-through-function”, with the wooden last having been inspired by the shape of a real human foot, which is surprisingly rare in last design. And the shape of the shoe comes directly from this last, with a slightly rounded toe and slender heel.
The shape lends a great deal to the comfort of the shoe. But so does the leather we use – Nubuck, Napa, Pull-up waxed leather, and stupendously silky full calfskin lining – 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, and cool and airy in the summer.
And the lining of our leather shoes is 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, we say “poppycock” to that… we’ve used the best materials we can find and our customers think it’s been worth it.
We also make some vegan-friendly models. It’s impossible to source vegan materials that perform as well as leather, but we have some that come close. If you don’t see a vegan model listed on our website, just get in touch and we’ll sort you out.
The soles of the shoe are made from a natural rubber, which is hard wearing yet comfy. And the unique message on the underside is created with a metal mould. It was important in our design that we keep the sole very slight and entirely beneath the upper - far too many shoes and sneakers have soles that creep up around the edges, in an unattractive "cup" and we were keen to restore a more traditional, pre-war method for bonding sole and upper.