- The founders of Baudoin & Lange have some pretty strong thoughts on good (and bad) fashion.
- Bo van Langeveld was working in investment banking when he realized senior men in the company were wearing well-tailored suits with no shoes, or simply bad shoes.
- At the same time, ex-Apple employee Allan Baudoin was learning the art of bespoke shoemaking.
- The pair, who met in 2016 to start cult loafer brand Baudoin & Lange, told Business Insider the biggest style mistakes both men and women make.
- According to Baudoin, the worst thing you can do is overdress.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Bo van Langeveld realized while working as an investment banker in a private equity firm in London that the finance world had a major fashion problem.
“I noticed that men in corporate senior positions all take off their shoes after traditional office hours,” he told Business Insider. “I remember the exact moment, when I saw one of the senior men in the company wearing an extremely well-tailored suit, only for it to be totally undermined by his lack of shoes and some rather garishly coloured socks.”
Van Langeveld, who had formerly been a racecar driver in the Netherlands until an accident halted his career, added that he was also “rather surprised by the commuter ensemble of trainers and suits, which is often seen in the world of finance.”
“It dawned on me that if your dress shoes are so uncomfortable that you resort to pairing your smart suit with a pair of worn running shoes, then it’s time to invest in some new footwear,” he said.
At the same time, Parisian Allan Baudoin had left a career at Apple in London, having become “disillusioned” with the company after the passing of CEO Steve Jobs.
“Growing up in Paris, I always had an instinct for upcoming trends from a young age, as I spent my childhood surrounded by art and immersed in ‘rive-gauche’ aesthetics,” he told Business Insider.
After Apple, he said he “went in search of a radical change and a serendipitous encounter with a retired shoemaker, Kasim, resulted in an immediate friendship with a mutual appreciation for craftsmanship.”
“Kasim taught me the ins and outs of bespoke shoemaking and I embarked upon the journey of an artisan,” he said. “I travelled from Istanbul to Florence and Paris to meet with makers and buyers while learning the trade and honing my craft along the way.
“It was during one visit to an exceptional artisan in Istanbul that I began to view my artisanal craft under a business lens, designing a product that looked and felt remarkable, with a potential to scale and become a brand name.”
That product was an unlined slip-on shoe inspired by Belgian loafers, which was “once popular with art gallerists and socialites in 1950s New York,” he said. He named it the Sagan, in honour of the late astrophysicist Carl Sagan.
“It was then in 2016 that I met Bo, and we started Baudoin & Lange,” he said.
Together, the pair have since opened an extremely stylish atelier in a former shoe factory building in east London, and have given the “Sagan” shoe somewhat of a cult status.
It’s safe to say they both know how to style a shoe – but they have some other thoughts on good (and bad) fashion as well.
Overdressing is the worst thing you can do
Baudoin told Business Insider that the worst style mistake both men and women make is overdressing.
“I would advise men to always approach how they dress for the day or the evening by thinking who they will encounter on their outing, in which environment, and how these people will likely be dressed,” he said.
“For example, at a wedding, the classic rule is for the groom to always be the most formally dressed (morning suit or tuxedo) so that no guests should feel ashamed if they were to come overdressed. This explains that.”
For women, he added: “Many women wonder what makes Parisian chic what it is.
“It is often about embellishing details in a subtle and natural manner and playing with the limits of nonchalance. Most real Parisians only wear high heels to very formal events, hence the popularity of ballerinas and loafers there.”
Don’t pair an expensive suit with bad shoes
Meanwhile, van Langeveld’s biggest bug bear is, of course, bad shoes in the workplace.
“Many people often disregard the need for a smart pair of comfortable, yet stylish shoes,” he said. “It isn’t uncommon to see men with expensive suits, which are instantly ruined by a scuffed pair of unpolished dress shoes.
“It can be difficult to strike the correct balance between style and comfort, something that looks good and feels good, and is therefore overlooked by many men and women.”
Oh, and one more thing – “Men should always invest in a proper briefcase, as opposed to a backpack,” according to van Langeveld.