Vince Lebon is one of the most creative and astute minds in the footwear industry.
In 2012, inspired by his flight attendant wife—Kat, aka Rollie—the Melbourne-based designer founded Rollie Nation, a collection of stylish, lightweight, travel-friendly footwear.
In our interview, Vince tells the story of how he sold his first 500 pairs of shoes—his entire inventory—in just four weeks, and from there grew Rollie to become one of Australia’s most popular footwear brands.
To personally spearhead Rollie’s introduction into the US market, Vince recently moved his family to Brooklyn, New York.
Shortly after arriving in the States, Vince won a scholarship to Brooklyn’s prestigious Pensole Academy, which subsequently served as the set for the YouTube original series, Lace Up: The Ultimate Sneaker Challenge.
Vince was cast into the show and ended up winning it all after designing a shoe that was personally selected by NBA star James Harden. The victory landed Vince a job at Adidas, where he now creates top-secret future footwear concepts at the brand’s secretive Brooklyn Creator Farm.
He also just put out a limited-edition sneaker for Asics—an opportunity earned during his time at Pensole’s Fueling The Future Of Footwear master class.
In this interview, Vince and I discuss his creative process, as well as how he is able to juggle several projects at once.
We talk about exactly what he did to grow his first brand, and how–through social media, pop-up activations, and collaborations with others—he was able to scale the business internationally.
Persistence is a major theme in this conversation, and Vince recounts specifically how certain roadblocks that he’s encountered have ultimately contributed to his success in the industry.
The father of two young kids, Vince also talks about how he and Kat—who has since left the airline world for fashion—make time for family while working full-time to grow their own brands in a new market.
And, of course, we talk sneaker culture. From future trends and cutting-edge innovations that are furthering the game, to the dark world of resellers, Vince talks about the powerful influence of footwear design on our culture, and the responsibility that comes with that.
Few people are as qualified to talk about this industry as Vince, so it’s a real honor to have him on the show. It’s been a pleasure to get to know Vince over time, and as it turns out, we’re actually neighbors.
I hope you enjoy this episode and take as much of it to heart as I have.
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