Loyal Footwear Offers Better Shoes, Made in a Better Way
Rebecca: I’m Rebecca Heykes, Co-Founder of BK Shoe Factory and our Design Director for Loyal. I live in Hoboken near BK Shoe Factory, so I tend to work at odd hours of the day there! The inspiration for Loyal styles definitely comes from observation— I’m always watching what’s on people’s feet and their shopping habits, and work to distill the info down into ideas we can execute well that are unique to us. I’m a vegan one, so when we talk about sustainability in the shoe line, I’m always adamant we’re working with real hard data and making the most educated decisions.
Keiko: I’m Keiko Hirosue, Co-Founder of BK Shoe Factory and co-founder of Loyal. I commute to Hoboken from Brooklyn- and like Rebecca, I am always shoe-watching on the trains. I am an avid supporter of circular fashion, or slow fashion, and emphasize the educational component to shoemaking. I have another business called the Brooklyn Shoe Space in Williamsburg where we host shoemaking classes and other leather goods classes, and that’s where I can explore the educational side of shoes. I love meeting new designers, and students from different industries and different countries, gathering for the love of shoes- any kind of shoes. I know we cannot have our factory on our own, and that we need a community that supports our ideals. So from educating consumers, to teaching the skills, to having our factory, creating an ecosystem is always on my mind.
Keiko: Loyal shoes are soft and fit your feet way better than normal store-bought shoes. It’s going to be your go-to comfortable, everyday kind of shoes, like your sneakers. We made sure the designs are timeless and simple so it can go with different outfits.
Rebecca: I would describe the brand as better shoes, made in a better way. Better for animals, the environment, your feet, and the people making them.
Rebecca: From the beginning after we had created our production workshop space, BK Shoe Factory, we had always wanted to do a factory-direct line. We knew it would be the perfect opportunity to show off what we like to make and can make well, to provide a better value shoe with no retail markups for our customers, and to be ‘our own client’ to keep the factory space running smoothly.
Keiko: The name Loyal came to me one day upstate. When we talked about what we wanted the line to be, we were interested in finding a name that conveyed a broader idea about the things we believe in. And “Loyal” seemed like one of those big concepts that best tied in our US manufacturing, our focus on sustainable materials, and our choice to leave animals out of our products. We are loyal to our feet, loyal to our staff, loyal to our customers.
Keiko: No other brand in America is making sustainable vegan shoes, in-house, in their own manufacturing facility. We handlast the shoes using no heavy machinery, which preserves the softness of the materials we use.
Rebecca: Yes, when we say facility, we mean our relatively intimate 2000 sq. ft. workshop. Loyal is also about rethinking the system of how we create and buy products, focusing on making less waste by only creating what there’s demand for via our made-to-order process.
Keiko: I love the Kiren flats since they make my wide feet look more elegant, but my favorite is the Holly heel- It’s the perfect 1 inch heel that still looks elegant, goes with anything in my wardrobe, casual or formal, and they are so comfortable!
Rebecca: My fave is the Kiren flats, I love the subtle square toe and the stretchy heel counter.
Keiko: Our take on ethical is to do it ourselves. There’s no better way to have total control over your production process, and there are actually many artisans here in the U.S. that need your support and the stability of making and selling a consistent product.
Rebecca: And our take on sustainable is to listen to the most concrete data available by leaving all animal-agriculture derived products out of our shoes, as well as focusing on using more and more plant-derived materials. There are clear impact studies that show that using any non-animal materials already has a 60% lower footprint across all categories of water usage, pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. And the impact is even less when dealing with newer plant-derived or recycled options, so this is where we are choosing to focus our energy.