We met up with Ngoc Thai, Campers Country Director DACH&PL, in her beautiful Berlin appartment and discussed all thing kids shoes related and learned more about the brand.
BMS: I think just about everyone knows Camper especially the Pelotas that was on just about every foot in the late 90s and early 2000. But few know that Camper is in fact a family run business and that has a very long history in shoemaking that dates back as far as 1877 even before the brand Camper was founded as such. What is it in your eyes that makes Camper a brand that has managed to stay relevant for decades?
Ngoc Thai: Camper has always stuck by the same brand values created at it’s conception. To be unconventional at every step, to care about the product and to always be authentic. These elements have given the brand a clear identity which, combined with more than a 100 years of footwear making skills, make it a dependable and unique brand.
BMS: How does the brand manage to always stay ahead of it’s time?
Ngoc Thai: Connected with our values, as I mentioned previously, I think it´s our unconventional approach that has enabled us to stay ahead of the curve. Always seeking out new ideas, whether it´s the concept, or the material or something completely different. We continually develop progressive styles, and I think that´s because the designers are not trying to follow something, but look at shoe design from a different perspective.
BMS: Since our readers are interested in all things kids, we of course would like to know when Camper started in the childrens footwear market?
Ngoc Thai: Camper started developing Camper for Kids back in 2006.
BMS: We are very much interested in the fabrics and leathers that you choose for children´s shoes. With kids shoes it’s all about the perfect fit, comfort and quality design. What do your designers focus on when choosing the different components and which is the most crucial one that makes the shoe the ideal kids shoe?
Ngoc Thai: With children´s shoes it´s vital to consider comfort, protection, support, but most importantly fun. We know that when a child tries on a model, they really need to want to wear the shoe in the first place to agree to put it on. It needs to be simple to get on and it must feel comfortable to wear. Any parent will tell you that it´s really easy to know when something isn´t right!
BMS: What is a key feature that all kids Camper shoes must have to support the healthy development of a childs foot and to ensure that the toddlers have enough support when taking their first steps?
Ngoc Thai: We´ve researched what a child really needs to support their growing feet. For little ones, ankle support is vital but also all children need footwear that incorporates good materials to support their growing feet. It´s important that the design is ergonomic and allows for small toes to freely move. Plus, it is also key that their foot sits comfortably in the shoes. That´s why we have Ortholite soles in many options and have incorporated a loop detail in the tongue, so that it doesn´t slip out of place and cause discomfort.
BMS: I see so many different shapes of childrens feet, how does Camper cover this difference? Do you have shoes for narrow and wide feet or is this issue covered through certain design features that ensure a snug fit for every type of foot?
Ngoc Thai: We don´t currently make different width options.
BMS: What advice would you give a parent when shopping for the first pair of shoes for their child? What are the three most important criteria when they go shoe shopping?
Ngoc Thai: Size – that there´s enough room for feet to move and grow. Support – that their ankle is supported as they learn to take their first steps. Shape – that the foot shape mirrors the ergonomic contours of a child´s foot, which is really important for development. And lastly, as an extra consideration, Grip – that the outsole can grip and support a child´s uncertain and unsteady first moves.
BMS: We try to give our Bubblemum Society readers insights into sustainable brands and why we feel it is important to rather invest into one good pair of shoes or clothing than several not so high quality ones. What does Camper do across the production line and beyond to make sure that the brand is sustainable?
Ngoc Thai: We´ve always been really focused to make the product as good as it can be – a little better, never perfect. That means making it as long-lasting as possible, so it´s sustainable in the truest sense of the word. We can only achieve that working with the best materials and with experts in production. As a relatively small business, we work with just a few factories and we know them well. Not only do we have close relations with them, but we audit them to ensure their practices are as good as they can be. (You can actually see images and get details on them all on our website).
In addition, we´re continually working on our processes and materials. Our Camper for Kids collection has leathers which are sourced from tanneries rated either gold or silver with the Leather Working Group. This group certifies the environmental performance of the tanneries, looking at things like chemicals, energy and water consumption. In addition, we have recently added chrome-free linings to our options, which are great for sensitive skins.
In the next few years you will see other changes coming down the line as we work to be more sustainable across our whole business.
BMS: What are the latest developments and trend in the kids shoe market and what does Camper focus on for fall winter 19/20?
Ngoc Thai: For Fall/Winter you will see many of the styles that are available for adults, also available in Camper for Kids, which means you can do the whole mini-me look. Aside from that, we have a really wide selection of winter boots, which include non-slip outsoles, Primaloft insulation to keep feet warm and Gore-TEX waterproofing.
BMS: And one last question. What is the go to kids shoe for Fall Winter19/20.
Ngoc Thai: Brutus – a durable urban winter boot that has a chunky rubber sole and warm lining. It was inspired from the same line that´s available for adults and has been really popular. It´s available for boys and girls in a few colours but we love the fiery red, which will cheer up winter days.