Axel Arigato's founders on creating their own niche in the sneaker industry
Cult brand Axel Arigato has just launched its permanent store in Dubai, situated at Level Shoes in The Dubai Mall after witnessing exponential growth worldwide.
Embodying a monochromatic colour scheme throughout the store, visitors have a chance to experience futuristic elements in the design as its adopted modern materials with an architecturally aesthetic display showcasing a complete offering of both men’s and women’s footwear, accessories along with a limited-edition capsule collection exclusive to and inspired by Dubai, designed to mark the opening.
Emirates Woman sat down with the brand’s co-founders of Axel Arigato, Albin Johansson (AJ) and Max Svärdh (MS), to discuss how they filled a gap in the sneaker industry while launching their exclusive new store in the Middle East.
Tell us the story behind Axel Arigato.
AJ: We started the brand for a few reasons but mainly because, as consumers ourselves, we couldn’t find a brand that we truly could identify with. In order to differentiate ourselves in an already saturated market, we began selling solely through our website and work with word-of-mouth and marketing through social media to increase brand awareness. We also started immediately with our concept ”Drop of the Week” which allows us to forego traditional seasons and launch at least one new product every week.
Describe the brand’s overall aesthetic?
MS: When we launched the brand in 2014, we set out to create a collection of “the new classics” – high quality, versatile and minimalist product offerings that could seamlessly walk between different worlds and transition from day to night, from professional to social life. I think that’s what we’re the most recognized for.
How does Axel Arigato incorporate sustainable measures in this day and age of conscious design?
MS: The team and myself were working on the product having a genuine interest in new, sustainable materials. We’re constantly researching and learning by the day, with close help from our factories and colleagues in Portugal. Our goal is to develop high-quality products that have a lifespan of years, not seasons. As a business, we don’t work after traditional seasonal collections, concepts and stories. We have our drop of the week schedule which helps us achieve a healthier inventory and also contributes to more conscious buying as we are using constant customer feedback to guide us on re-orders, the development of new styles and improvement of existing styles.
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Was it a part of your vision to expand the brand into the Middle East?
AJ: We believe that Axel Arigato has a reason to be present in places with a lot of cultural references and where change is never-ending. The Middle East is a very interesting region with a curious mindset that is currently going through a transition and therefore we do see it as a perfect match.
How has social media helped the business grow?
MS: Since launching the brand, social media has been a catalyst in terms of building organic brand awareness but most importantly communicating directly with our community. We’re able to build genuine relationships and share news directly – meaning less dependent on traditional media or someone else to share the message.
What does the Middle Eastern audience mean to you?
MS: We visited Dubai last year to launch the pop-up at Level Shoes and now that a permanent space has been installed it’s a testament to the appetite the local customer has for our brand. We look forward to offering a more localized and unique experience for the region in the upcoming months.
How has the brand evolved during the pandemic and overcome any main challenges?
AJ: In many ways, we were prepared for the changes that came with the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Our focus has always been online, concentrating efforts on our DTC website and social media channels – so even though people weren’t physically out or travelling – an authentic dialogue between us remained.
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What inspired you to open a permanent store in the Dubai Mall’s Level Shoes?
AJ: There was such a strong response from customers when we had a temporary space in 2020 and so it only felt right to build a permanent Axel Arigato world within Level Shoes. Moreover, we stand behind the strategy of Level Shoes and how they constantly want to work with the experience of their customers.
Are there any exciting launches that you’re working on which are currently in the pipeline?
MS: We’re expanding our ready-to-wear offering (for men and women) to offer a diverse collection of clothing that speaks to our customers. We’re also working on a lot of new footwear styles that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from us. We’re very excited about the upcoming drops.
Axel Arigato available at Level Shoes, The Dubai Mall and levelshoes.com
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Feature image: Supplied