Getting To Know: Virgil Nicholas – VINNY’s

Rooted in street culture and sportswear, VINNY’s represents the classics of tomorrow whilst respecting the heritage of the past. Each pair of VINNY’s shoes are made in a small factory in Portugal with high-quality materials, each handcrafted in understated colours and classic silhouettes, ensuring years upon years of wear. Specialising in the loafer silhouette – this Copenhagen based footwear and lifestyle brand are setting a standard when it comes to creating product with timeless appeal.

In conjunction with our first delivery from VINNY’s at HIP, we caught up with founder and designer Virgil Nicholas to talk early blog days, starting a footwear brand, swapping sneakers for loafers and more.

Hi Virgil – thanks for taking the time out to speak to HIP. What was life like growing up in Paris, and how would you describe the city’s overall approach to style?

Didn’t grow up in Paris, but in Copenhagen. However, almost my entire childhood summers up until my teenage years were spent in Paris. It most definitely created the backdrop and inspiration for my understanding of style today. In my opinion Paris is equal to effortlessness: whether layered or stripped down to just a top, bottoms and a solid choice of footwear, the Parisian way is good at winning. But the diversity and contrast of inhabitants that the city also has, certainly also played a big part in the way I see the world, and how I like to shape my own concepts. You need contrasts to create something that’s for more than just one.

Blog sites such as Substack and mood board IG pages are super popular right now and play a part in emerging trends across the globe, you started a big blog back in 2008 called Superbial, could you explain a bit more about that and how it came about?

Superbial was my first venture into creating community based on common ground. Instead of “player hating” on the dude on the other side of the street because he seemingly was influenced by the same culture as you, you should give him a nod and ask “where he got those from”. Superbial was intended to be that platform: applauding common interests, being first to inform, inspire and also to engage, I conceptualized a blog universe similar to the early days of Highsnobiety and Selectism, in which we wrote more than a handful of articles a day, did tons of events highlighting aspiring creatives and brands. Ultimately we became an extended arm for brands, facilitating content creation, product launches and ambassador programs. Our ambition to embrace everyone got us there I think.

What pushed you to start VINNY’s?

A few things: for starters I was tired of seeing adult men wearing sneakers with their suits at celebrations. There is definitely space to wear sneakers with everything, but weddings and such should be kept classic – that’s without saying contemporary twists aren’t welcome. But when you wear sneakers every day, the least you can do also pay respects to the host, and also ask of yourself to level up just that one time of the year.

Secondly, having been a sneaker head for over a decade but realizing I would have the same rotation over and over again these last years, I realized there was missing a piece in the puzzle that wasn’t a pair of kicks but a dress shoe that could complete the whole thing. That’s probably a part of growing up! VINNY’s was a born with the intention to create a contemporary heritage brand honoring classic virtues.

How was it mixing the two difficult tasks of sourcing high quality production whilst refining a unique brand message to begin the brand?

Good question. It was fun! I really appreciate the task of doing things properly as I believe it shows in the end result. Sourcing is like a playground that will have your creative side get sidetracked non-stop because the opportunities are endless. The hardest part was succeeding in getting our many messages across with as few words as possible.

We are now seeing loafers and formal shoes worn in a much more relaxed way these days, for example with casual shorts or sweatpants – how are you personally seeing loafers being interpreted in the current age?

Weill exactly like you described: to the bearer’s convenience, and I like what I see. To me it is underlining VINNY’s purpose to make the loafers as versatile as the sneaker. Ultimately, there’s nothing saying your wardrobe can’t have a high-value cared-for loafers collection the same as you do with sneakers.

Which VINNY’s style is your go to currently and how do you like to wear them?

At the moment I am loving the black Paname Pony Hair. It’s rich in many ways but speaking of effortlessness, that style is my favourite go to for dressing up a pair of jeans and a T-shirt right now.

Which clothing and lifestyle brands do you have your eye on that we stock at HIP?

I love Japanese design and simplicity. If you study the two entities you’ll find a good deal of similarities between Danish design minimalism and appreciation of craft and Japanese ditto. My own wardrobe stocks quite the pieces from Beams, Visvim and Sophnet. My eyes are currently on your retaW and Snow Peak selection. Gotta get in there just to make sure I’m fully covered across the whole spectre.

What’s next for VINNY’s?

We have a long way to go in achieving our ultimate goal of being a brand, that is not only known for its product but for a way of life. But every new day is a step towards it. Right in front of us is the process of being even more persistent in establishing that VINNY’s is the destination for loafers. And then, we will start exploring new territories…

Keep up to date with Virgil here and VINNY’s here.

VINNY’s – new to HIP for AW21. Online now.