The Disruptors: Paul Janssen from ECCO

Paul Janssen has been working with ECCO shoes since 2014, bringing a wealth of experience in luxury men’s brands and retailing. His career began in Switzerland with one of the oldest and best-known premium department stores in the world – Jemoli – working in retail sales. From there, he returned to his home country, Holland, working with shoemakers Manfield, firstly as a product manager, and then as a quality inspector.

Over the next 20 years, Janssen worked in Italy with premium and top luxury shoe brands like Oliver, Marco Polo, Paul Smith, Kenneth Cole, Rockport and Hugo Boss. At Hugo Buss, he helped set up their first shoe collection in 1994, and was responsible for product development in their own shoe factory. This refined his passion for luxury men’s shoemaking, within the high-end Italian fashion market.

Since joining ECCO, Janssen has overseen the product strategy, using his experience in premium footwear to help re-position the brand amongst formal shoe collections globally. For Janssen, the launch of the VITRUS™ platform, and its current Vitrus Mondial project, mark a significant turning point for ECCO, and an exciting opportunity to redefine how consumers interact with the brand.

What is your role at ECCO?

Category Director, men’s shoes.

What has been your biggest accomplishment there?

Ecco is mostly known for the great casual shoes we have been producing since 1963, all manufactured in our own production facilities, and with our fluid form production technology.

However, we were able to introduce in Summer 2018 the Vitrus family, based as all our products on fluidform technology. A real premium formal range of footwear with the use of leather welts, leather stacked heels, all made with the special developed Vitrus  anatomical shank, and thus great comfort.

On top of that, Vitrus products are made with craftmanship finish. Vitrus is formal footwear with a 5mm full leather covered foot bed for exceptional comfort.

 What’s new with ECCO for 2020?

A lot. Innovation is embedded in our DNA. Besides the many new developments in the athleisure range, and many premium leather sneakers, there is the new kid on the block, Vitrus Mondial, a true formal footwear range with a leather sole.

What do you see trending in the world of premium men’s formal shoes?

Formal is never out of fashion, but people want no compromise on comfort, and versatility is key in their wardrobe.

Tell me about your most recent project, Vitrus Mondial?

Vitrus Mondial is a true formal shoe range with a slightly elongated last. The product is looking smart, sleek and stylish. We have used a full leather sole with a smooth leather welt and with intarsia protection. This makes the product suitable for a 12 month use. We are using premium calf leather made in our own tannery with a unique antique finish, which makes the shoe look very different than any other product. It took us two years to get this innovative technology with leather sole done.

A real formal shoe with sneaker wearing comfort.

 What went into the design/development of the new Vitrus Mondial collection?

Again a lot….  New design language, folded edges, bindings and reverse stitching in 4 formal styles: derby, toe-cap derby, double monk and the unique one-piece Oxford style. Finest premium Dutch calf leathers, with exclusive antique stripe-finish in great rich looking brown-tones. Leather sole with antarsia, all done with fluidform technology. Innovation is the first Ecco shoe with invisible fluidform, patent pending.


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