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The story behind the LANX footwear brand in Lancashire

The 365 Vibram range has been designed for women and men (c) LANX
The 365 Vibram range has been designed for women and men (c) LANX

Having launched just six years ago, independent Whalley-based footwear brand LANX has swiftly built up an impressive reputation and a loyal customer base that includes well known sports stars among many others.

LANX shoes have been worn by Leicester Tigers and Sale Sharks, for example, as well as Wigan Warriors and Burnley FC. Wales Rugby Union chose them as the club’s official formal footwear for three years – a move that saw LANX shoes worn by the national team at the World Cup welcome ceremony in Paris.

This international fame is a far cry from where the brand started; at a pop-up market on a rainy day in Chorlton. Founder Marco Vaghetti remembers it clearly: ‘It was absolutely tipping it down, I was sharing a stall with a mate who was selling antiques, and I’d had to borrow a van to get there – but I sold my first pair of shoes that day and I couldn’t have been happier.

Great British Life: Marco Vaghetti founded LANX only six years ago (c) LANXMarco Vaghetti founded LANX only six years ago (c) LANX

‘The early market days were a really valuable part of the company’s development because I was out there meeting customers face to face across the North West and getting direct feedback about what people wanted to see in terms of design and fit. It informed much of our work going forward.

‘One of the recurring themes was that we were constantly asked by women for smaller sizes of the men’s shoes and boots, so we swiftly brought out a women’s range and now LANX serves both audiences.’

From selling that first pair of shoes six years ago, LANX has grown into a company with 15 full time staff and 2 stores; in Whalley and in Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter.

Great British Life: Choose designs with or without laces and broguing (c) LANXChoose designs with or without laces and broguing (c) LANX

Marco admits to learning fast: ‘When I first had the idea to create a footwear brand, I honestly didn’t know where to start in making a shoe. I had worked with some footwear companies in my previous events and marketing role, and the specialist sector really appealed to me.

‘I put the idea on the back burner for a while but eventually I decided it was now or never, so I jumped into the shoe business feet first, if you will.’

Marco set off an adventure to learn everything he could from the finest shoemakers across the world. ‘I dedicated six months of my life to visiting factories, meeting designers and working alongside craftspeople around the globe.

Great British Life: The 365 collection uses water-resistant leather (c) LANXThe 365 collection uses water-resistant leather (c) LANX

‘I wrestled with sumos in Japan, chatted to monks in Cambodia and trekked the Great Wall of China. I visited 10 countries, met some fascinating people and picked up countless shoe industry secrets along the way. I was particularly inspired by the many talented shoemakers located in the Tokyo suburb of Asakusa, traditionally a hub for shoemaking in Japan. Since then I have been on design excursions to New York, Berlin, Porto and Stockholm.’

Even after six years and with the majority of sales now made through the website, LANX continues to see the benefit of face-to-face markets and events, attending a record 45 shows, fairs and festivals across the 2023 season.

It was one such (soggy) event that led the brand in a new direction.

The company, which is best known for its smart/casual boots, shoes and sneakers has now unveiled a water-resistant range of everyday boots; the LANX 365 Vibram collection for men and women. But Marco confesses that it started out as a purely selfish endeavour: ‘The team and I had been working on the LANX stand at an agricultural show and decided while we were having a post-work beer that we should create a water-resistant design for ourselves that would stand up well against the constant mud at these type of events.

Great British Life: This collection saw LANX partner with renowned Italian sole supplier Vibram (c) LANXThis collection saw LANX partner with renowned Italian sole supplier Vibram (c) LANX

‘We needed something that could handle the harsh British weather and all that it threw at us. We started designing immediately and it soon became clear there would be a wider market for such a versatile boot in our signature style.

‘After an extensive four-year development process, including partnering with famous Italian sole manufacturer Vibram we unveiled the range in time for the 2023 Autumn/Winter season. There are a number of styles and colours, with or without broguing and laces so there’s something for everyone. They’ve proven incredibly popular. ...It’s a good job we didn’t keep them to ourselves!

‘Despite their trekking-inspired sole, roomy toe box, water-resistant leather and cushioned in-sole the 365 boots are, admittedly, not designed for climbing Everest. But they’re well suited to pretty much everything else; whether you’re walking the dog, working in the garden, wandering round an artisan market or wowing everyone with your dance moves at a muddy festival.’

Great British Life: Marco and his team rigorously test all products before release (c) LANXMarco and his team rigorously test all products before release (c) LANX



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