Tobe x Simpleton launch

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In a traditional supply chain for retail apparel, a designer will produce samples of their pieces, show it to buyers, who will (hopefully) place orders. Meanwhile the designer tries to anticipate sales and starts producing a range of pieces in various different sizes and quantities, for buyers to (again hopefully) on-sell to the end consumer.


As for surplus stock? It’s either progressively marked down until they’re sold off, or presumably they are discarded in order to make way for the next season’s collections.

These three designers – John Chen, Geoff Wright and Nick Loubser under the name of Simpleton decided to try things differently by collaborating with New Zealand shoe label tobe and exploring how they could look at less wasteful and less disconnected ways of getting products to the end consumer, while producing some really unique footwear at the same time.

IMG_8301Left to right: Paul from tobe shoes, John, Nick and Geoff

tobe is a Wellington-based shoe brand with a bit of a cult following, renown for their minimalist aesthetic and stocked by independent boutiques like Good as Gold and Qubic in Auckland. John first met the team at tobe when he interned there. When Mike from tobe mentioned that he would be interested in collaborating to revamp their casual range, he brought in Geoff and Nick to the team, who also had an interest in footwear design.

Instead of approaching buyers, they had clients pre-order the shoes that they wanted. For $120, you got to pick up your specially made tobe x Simpleton shoes with a bag of coffee from Raglan Roast at the launch party.

IMG_8313The campaign shoot models: Sequoia and John

I guess there is a mindset that to make it big you need to be in Auckland or [insert creative-type people magnet city here], and that you need an extensive PR campaign to get your brand positioning right. What I really appreciated and related to was how this supply chain, where customers would visit Raglan Roast to talk to the designers and to check out the prototypes before deciding to place an order puts the design, the craftsmanship, and the story behind it at the forefront. Sometimes, the concept, and the process in which it is carried out is just as important as the end product.


The launch party was held at Raglan Roast on Abel Smith Street, where the boys have set up a workshop out the back of the cafe. Walking into the roastery/cafe on a typically wet and windy Wellington night, I was greeted by a crowd of supporters, customers, sneakerheads who all came to celebrate the launch of the tobe x Simpleton shoes.

Missed out on your chance to grab a pair? I think the boys ordered a couple of extra pairs which are available on their website over at


– Chris.

Author: Chris Park

One half of the Park Brothers. Purveyor of banter, curator of misc. Manage comms for @BuoyandMine. Read More

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