We’ve all been there, walked out of the house blissfully unaware of the all too comfy slipper cradling each foot and the added disappointment when you, or your overly vigilant neighbour, notices. Assumed with warmth and wellbeing, few shoes have succeeded to rival the slipper. In fact, here is a shoe lacking any new means of contemporary design in a very long time, until now. Brought to you by mahabis, a brand whose mission to reinvent one of the greatest egalitarian types of footwear has trickled into a formidable brand of redesigning and redefining lifestyle, finally inviting us to slow down, to stop and to take pleasure in one of life’s greater comforts and downright necessities that is downtime.
mahabis appreciates that much of our time spent outside profoundly impacts how we enjoy our time inside and uses the slipper to skillfully bridge the two together. In recognising that tradition and modernity can go hand in hand, mahabis asked, why must we stick to tradition when the slipper could be used inside and out? And quite rightly so, for when winter turns to spring and beach days turn to bonfires, we forget that our small toes still need that little bit of extra warmth.
Gone are the days when sipping on your coffee in your slippers could only be encountered in your home, the mahabis shoe allows you to do this anywhere and everywhere and is quickly becoming the must-have, go to form of footwear. In a world that’s become so fast paced it is often easy to neglect life’s simplest means, means that are imperceptibly impacting our daily lives and wellbeing and mahabis does well to challenge that, by way of slipper. They’ve brought the inside out, they’ve invited the outside in and simultaneously combined it with a life of adventure, photography, style and culture, to produce a whole design philosophy that’s ready to take the world by storm and we here at ROOMS love it.
I caught up with mahabis founder Ankur Shah, to find out more.
Hi Ankur, tell me a little about yourself and the initial stages of mahabis.
I started my career as a criminal barrister, then meandered into a technology business which after selling that business left me with some time on my hands. That’s when I discovered this massive, but hidden world of slippers. A multi-billion dollar industry with a brand no one was excited about and a product set that was mundane and boring. I thought, hey, let’s try and change that. I was keen to build a lifestyle brand that encapsulated what life was all about, the downtime after the uptime.
And why slippers?
Slippers are an age-old product. They represent something so important. The idea of switching off. We spend billions on better performance, being faster, losing weight, getting stronger. But what about the things in life that let us tune-in whilst tuning out? Relaxing. Chilling out. I wanted to create a product that represented that, both aesthetically and functionally too. I hope we’re going some way to achieve that.
Briefly speak me through the design process of the mahabis slipper. Did the initial design change a lot?
Yes massively. If you saw the original ones you’d be amazed at how far we’ve come. We had the joy of iterating our designs with some of the best young designers in Europe. We played with 3d printing. Applied age-old manufacturing techniques. Whilst the journey was a roller coaster, it was also incredibly inspiring. We’ve incorporated a range of innovative techniques but have strived for a no-fuss, clean and minimal design. The trademark mahabis silhouette is something we have maintained throughout. For us the art of reduction was a hard fought right.
You are based in London but the shoes seem to adopt a very Scandinavian, minimalist approach. Has Scandinavia always been a source of inspiration along the journey?
It has, our slippers and soles are named after Scandinavian towns and cities. We love the quintessentially minimalist aesthetic that is associated with Scandinavian countries, but also the perception of lifestyle minimalism, that less is more. In every sense.
Who is your target audience?
The bit of you that wants to relax. And what amazed us was how broad the cross-section was that identified with that. We talk a lot about redesigning downtime. And we’ve found that people from all age groups, evenly split across the genders, and people from all around the world really connect with that sentiment.
As much as it is a footwear brand, mahabis seems to adopt a whole lifestyle, which is evident in the brand’s imagery and the assisting online blog that you have (which I love!) Do you like to travel yourself?
Definitely, we’ve been global from day one. Our obsession is with embedding ourselves in as many places as possible, I think we’ve had customers from over 90+ countries so far.
Some of our team are working in Ibiza as we speak! We’ve shifted some of the office there for a week, because we may or may not be working on a summer version…shhh, don’t tell anyone.
Your slippers have been extremely popular, had you expected the company to take off as quickly as it has?
We knew there was a market there - the challenge was executing on our vision - as we knew that if we could connect with people on the sentiments we so strongly believed in then we’d have a chance.
We surpassed the 10,000 pair mark after just a handful of months, putting us ahead of amazing brands like TOMs. We’re really excited about where it goes from here.
And what’s in store for the future? Do you see mahabis sticking to its origins as a footwear brand or expanding?
We’re working on so much fun stuff, we think you’re going to love it! We’ll be sure to keep you updated, but keep a close eye as things are coming really, really soon…
All images via © mahabis