Simple was created by Eric Meyer on the 13th of December, 1991. It was a Friday at 11:00AM to be exact. Perhaps even more relevant today, Simple was created as a reaction to the excesses of the previous decade. Simple blended the 60’s and 70’s cultural influences of its California roots into a concoction that stirred minds. It was a mixture of influences from surfing, skateboarding, art, a touch of modern architecture, old bicycles, classic VW buses, books, magazines, vintage scooters, and an interest in eastern philosophy that formed the foundation for the brand.
This influence still holds true today..
A hybrid of casual, comfortable and athletic styles, Simple fit the new world. People wanted less. They didn’t want their shoes saying anything about them. Simple, was clean, basic shoes, where you could feel the hand behind the crafting. Simple was honest and never took things too seriously.
Still true today.
a Brand in search of a Name
Possible brand names were discussed one night over espresso in a late-night coffeehouse. The name needed to be short and easy to remember, five or six letters max. It had to be easy to say and preferably a touch ironic. One particular word kept coming up when trying to describe what the product would look like and what the brand would represent. And that word was “Simple.” That trademark was applied for the very next morning in Los Angeles; and thus Simple became real.
The character of a brand doesn’t come from thin air. It is a distillation, an appropriation, a curated blend of history’s good ideas. Inspiration can come from the most mundane things: the leather from a bicycle seat or the thread color from a pair of vintage jeans.
Simple draws from the classic resources and ideas that are all around us.
In 1993 Simple joined Deckers, a really big shoe company and moved from its origins in San Luis Obispo to Carpinteria. Prior to this, Simple had been completely financed by friends and family. With the new arrangement, Simple was able to make lots and lots and lots of PRODUCT! This made everyone very happy. Well…….. this and the fact that Simple was now located less than a mile from the best right-point break in California. Life was good and the brand grew.
Our relationship with our customers deepened as we grew. Simple felt less like a corporation and more like a collective of like-minded people
The Moonlight Chronicles, Dan Price, @hoboartist
Dan Price wrote a letter to Simple in 1993 and sent along a copy of the Moonlight Chronicles; a journal of his uncomplicated life. Dan proposed that Simple send him a pair of shoes, and in return, he would review them. He said that review would be seen by his 200 subscribers. Simple loved Dan’s drawings and writings and suggested instead that Simple sponsor Dan and the Moonlight Chronicles. Dan’s writings and drawings showed a greater understanding and appreciation for living a simple life. People loved it.
People still love it! Dan is continuing to create relatable art that offers people a view of the world filled with wonder, magic and simplicity. And best of all, he’s still connected to Simple; and is a daily reminder of what we’re all about here.
Let’s jump to the mid-2000’s. Through its products and manufacturing processes, Simple made a commitment to building as many products as possible with sustainable materials. It is core to Simple’s values and core to our customers’ belief system. People want to do the right thing and Simple is not a company as much as a collective of like-minded people who care about the environment and want to leave the planet healthy for our kids and grandkids.
And the Band Played On
Simple was continuing to expand on its style categories, chugging along and selling more shoes. The world was in complete alignment………until it wasn’t.
Simple Takes a Nap
Often times, there’s never one reason why a certain decision is made, but Deckers made a decision to stop making Simple Shoes at the end of December, 2011. There’s been lots of conjecture and innuendo around why Deckers sunset Simple, but in the grand scheme of things…… we all go off the rails at times and taking a break is often the best thing.
The Almost Now
In 2015, an eclectic, design-focused shoe industry veteran, Denis Ryan, realized that the Simple brand was sleeping in a file cabinet somewhere outside of Santa Barbara, California, not far from its beginning in 1991. Denis followed the brand since its inception, knew the product and people who nurtured it and wanted to bring Simple back to life.
Understanding the true ethos of what the brand was all about and it’s responsibility to Simple’s loyal fan base, he put together a small team focused on bringing the brand back. They researched the key styles, worked with the original designers and reverse engineered the OS Sneaker. They then launched a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign that reintroduced Simple back in the marketplace.
The old slogan “ a nice little shoe company” means more now than it ever did. It's just a handful of us trying to bring back some of your favorite shoes step by step.
At Simple our mission is to design functional, relevant product that bridges the technical and the traditional for that unique outdoor wanderer.
As we prepare for the next 30 years, our future is wide open. But strangely enough, it’s actually a merging of our past lives. Simple has the same ethos as it did in 1991, when the company was run out of the garage. We still drink Sam Adams and love surfers, skateboarders, artists and musicians. Clean design and vintage styling still rule our product line, and we continue to push forward with recycled materials and responsible manufacturing. From the OS Sneaker, to the Retro 91 to the soon to be released new SLO, Simple Shoes is still the alternative to over-built, over-hyped, over-designed products – a way to break out of the sea of sameness. But most of all, these shoes, along with the forthcoming new clogs and boots, …….. they are all………well, Simple.