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Veldskoen

Published: 1st Nov 2019
Author: Tony Dickson S&V Editor & Ross Zondagh

Nic Latouf (Veldskoen), Nick Dreyer (Veldskoen), Voden Wearne (Oden), Ebrahim Shaikh (Hopewell Footwear), Ross Zondagh (Veldskoen), Driekie Zondagh (Veldskoen).

What's in a name? A group of outsiders show the footwear industry how it's done.
It's probably fair to say that Digital Online Retail Platforms (DORP) - better known as Veldskoen - is South Africa's first global footwear brand.
The genius of its creators has been to take a generic South African name, tap into an international market created by Clarks' desert boot, and add a Louboutin-type touch with different coloured soles and laces. And voila! A celebrity-endorsed product that until now South African - and all African - footwear manufacturers could only dream about.
All this in two-and-a-half years.
The stitchdown construction isn't by any means uniquely South African, and even that construction teamed with suede uppers isn't restricted to our footwear history. DORP wasn't the first to do the stitchdown multicolour thing - remember when Hush Puppies first came back to SA? But the name veldskoen (also variously spelt and argued about) is absolutely local.
DORP has created some negative waves in the local footwear manufacturing industry, where the small band of stitchdown manufacturers has been a niche market surviving against the import flood, but mainly through equally battling independent retailers.
DORP, however, has gone straight for the big time.
It has also gone what could be termed the "ethical route". All its footwear is locally made, by Hopewell Footwear.
The concern among other local veldskoen manufacturers is that DORP now has all the rights to the term 'Veldskoen'. DORP director Ross Zondagh has sent the following explanation:
The Veldskoen trademark (2017/20566), IP and URL’s are held in our company Field Shoes International (Pty) Ltd. “Veldskoen” is a descriptive word which by itself cannot be registered as a trade mark, but we own the registered trade mark – “VELDSKOEN THE SOLE OF SOUTH AFRICA” and we own the brand, VELDSKOEN. Our legal strength is in the registered designs. We have protected the design and shape of our shoes. No one can actually copy our shoe design and shape. That is a shoe with a Brown Suede upper and matching coloured soles and laces. Same basically applies to VELLIES and PLAKKIE, although we have no set registered designs on plakkies and Vellies lies in the Veldskoen IP.
 
 

It all grew out of criticism of the SA team's Olympics kit...

By Ross Zondagh
VELDSKOEN may be a young company, but only two and a half years after inception it is quickly establishing itself as a well-recognised global fashion brand, something that all South Africans can be proud of.
The proudly South African shoe already has the globe talking (and walking). Famous fans include Prince Harry, Thandi Newton, and also Ashton Kutcher, who along with Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban, was so taken with the brand that
he quickly invested in its US expansion.
Entrepreneurs Nick Dreyer and I conceptualised the traditional leather shoe with its bright sole (soul), and began a small internet start-up in late 2016.
After watching the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Rio, we were unimpressed with the South African kit, and began reimagining what the athletes could have been wearing that would have better represented the country.
I suggested a pair of leather Vellies, because they are iconic South African shoes. Nick responded that most Vellies are also iconically ugly.
And so we began experimenting with ways to make our “national shoe” more attractive.
The answer came in the form of the brightly coloured soles and laces which make up VELDSKOEN’s trademark look today.
To help our shoes walk the globe, we enlisted the skills and imagination of old school friend, and digital marketing expert Nic Latouf.
His clever internet marketing quickly created a strong online footprint that helped the brand transcend South Africa’s physical borders.
Voden Wearne is Hopewell Footwear's representative to us and plays a critical role between us and Hopewell Footwear. He brings all the experience and knowledge of the shoe industry and assists us in new and continued development. We work very closely with Voden.
Hopewell Footwear to us, is more a partnership than a role. Without Hopewell Footwear, we would not be able to do what we do. We consider them more partners than just a manufacturer. Yes, each “partner” has a role and theirs is to research, develop and manufacture our shoe / shoes. I cannot stress how much we appreciate Hopewell Footwear and how
important they are to us.
In 2018, VELDSKOEN caught the eye of Long4Life’s Brian Joffe, who bought 49% of its South African operation. The financial injection aided international expansion into Europe, Australia, and the United States, where it was
introduced to Cuban and Kutcher. We plan to grow our international business in 2020. We are targeting Europe, Asia and Middle East.
VELDSKOEN has always been a “digital first” brand, and still sells much of its stock via its online store www.veldskoen.shoes. The company has since expanded its South African digital network to sell via small and large secondary retailers which include Takealot, Zando, Outdoor Warehouse, and Amazon.
In brick and mortar stores Veldskoen products are stocked by carefully selected independent retailers, and also larger enterprises like Tekkie Town, Outdoor Warehouse, and most recently, selected Woolworths stores.
 
 
What’s next?
The massive success of the VELDSKOEN brand, locally and internationally, prompted us to develop a range of other exciting proudly South African brands, through our company DORP, or Digital Online Retail Products.
VELLIES is the female counter part of Veldskoen. a slightly more feminine design, with the same coloured soles and laces.
PLAKKIE is the company’s rubber slop. A proudly South African alternative to wearing a pair of Havaianas to the beach.
For the last 6 months we have exceeded all our expectations in local and international sales. Our figures will be available through L4L quarterly results.
We don’t consider ourselves owners of Veldskoen but custodians of the name. We are simply looking at putting the best foot forward for South Africa.
We believe the shoe will become a global brand with everyone coming here will know that South Africans wear Veldskoen. We busy collaborating with other “Veldskoene” brands to promote not only our shoe but theirs. We have a global strategy, not just a local one. - ross@dorp.africa, www.veldskoen.shoes
 
©2017 S&V Publications
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