“Someday I’d like to call myself and entrepreneur, but for now I’m still learning.” At age 23, Jérémie Lahmi clearly has the eagerness of a young startup owner.
In April, the Frenchman launched Explorism, a brand of customized luxury sneakers. The concept: a Stan Smith shoe, colored and polished with a patina. “Each pair of shoes is totally unique,” says Lahmi. To make the shoes, the artisan craftsman applies a hand-mixed color to a sneaker, massaging in the color, then using a brush to create a burnished effect before adding a patina coating by hand.
“I’ve always been attracted to artisanship, savoir-faire, attention to detail,” explains Lahmi, who holds a masters in luxury brand management from the University of North Carolina. “My dream is to successfully share this taste for artisan goods with the most people possible, really to make luxury products more accessible.” The price of a pair of sneakers before patina: $60. After patina: $380. “It’s expensive, but for the price, clients are getting a shoe that no one is else wearing. It’s made by hand in New York. You’re really paying for le savoir, because one pair takes five hours of work without counting drying time.”
To be able to launch Explorism last spring, Lahmi was at an advantage financially because of his business plan: “All shoes are made upon request, so I don’t have to have stock or a place to store it.” Sales are made on the brand’s site and in Manhattan pop-up shops. The next pop-up is planned for October. His shoes are also sold at Upton Collective in Soho where he did a pop-up in June.
“I’m lucky because my father is an entrepreneur. He left Paris in 2009 to start something new here, in New York. He was a great example for me,” explains the young entrepreneur who has already thought of his next product that he plans to luxurize: the famous Jansport backpack, remade in Italian leather.