Tom Delonge of Blink 182 fame is the brains and brawn behind the mysterious Macbeth brand. With a steez for simple looking sneakers that are a big hit in emo-rock circles, Delonge has built the brand with the help of a network of musician friends (Tegan and Sarah anyone?) and family that have created some unlikely shoe collaborations. From strumming strings to lacing laces, Delonge has also used his vegan principles to guide the direction of the product. It’s taken a minute to track him down but finally here it is… Mr Macbeth himself!
Macbeth is a label that incorporates a love of music and the need for something different in a saturated market, but what are the key elements of your brand that set you apart?
Macbeth has several characteristics that set it apart from other sneaker brands. For starters, we strive to make really good products. We are the original music footwear brand actually created by musicians. Our line is inspired directly from our exclusive group of artists, unlike other brands that simply latch on to whatever fad is hip at the moment. The Macbeth Studio Project program is something we pride ourselves on, rather than buying merchandise rights to a band’s name and logo; we work directly with an artist to capture their personality and artistic personality in each and every product. Macbeth also does a lot of charitable work with Shirts for A Cure, Keep A Breast, Invisible Children and the Dear Jack Foundation. We maintain a low profile, classic silhouette that is comfortable for the artist while playing on stage but also fits within their style. Macbeth Vegan shoes are some of the only true vegan shoes around, we use a water-based glue and vegan materials unlike many other brands that use regular glue and vegan materials.
Where does the brand name derive from? Are you a literature buff?
The theme of Macbeth, the Shakespearean play, tells of a basic truth, in that riches gained through unethical methods are less than worthless and we try to ingrain that in our company ethos. It is an amazing play and if anyone has not read it, we highly recommend you do. That theme and name are timeless and we want our company to be timeless too, so the name just stuck.
Who is in the Macbeth family?
Macbeth keeps a very small exclusive list of artists that we work with and draw inspiration from. We work with musicians, artists, tattoo artists, and just all-around awesome people, all of which fit within the grander vision for Macbeth. We basically make awesome products and we’re having a blast while doing it. In other words, we don’t send free shoes to just everyone. Macbeth was the first music-inspired footwear brand to be created by musicians. It was created to meet the needs of the artist and their lifestyles. They needed something fashionable, yet comfortable, that wasn’t a giant skate shoe or an athletic jogger style. Macbeth fills that void with comfortable, fashion-forward, low profile classic shoes that aren’t lame and cheesy.
You’ve been quoted as saying ‘Macbeth is about challenging yourself to find that which inspires you to be better, do better and to live with greater meaning’. How can a humble sneaker do all of that?
Through its charitable works and vegan program, we feel Macbeth challenges people to be a better person and establish a greater meaning in their life. When someone purchases a certain pair of shoes, because a portion of the proceeds go to a charity they believe in or because they are animal cruelty free, that person is doing their little part in a greater goal for the betterment of society.
Is that why you went vegan-friendly as well?
When Macbeth first started, we were working with and taking inspiration from the growing hardcore scene. Bands like Bane, Alkaline Trio, American Nightmare, H20, and Sick of it All, all supported Macbeth and asked for vegan-friendly shoes. From there the vegan program expanded into what it is today, still working with several bands like AFI and Circa Survive that live by vegan ideals.
Do you feel a responsibility in being a trendsetter in this regard?
We are honored. We have been making cruelty-free shoes for close to seven years now. It’s something we have very strong beliefs in and are excited that it has caught on with other brands and come to the forefront of societal issues.
Macbeth has also collaborated with some great musicians, like Hunter Burgan and Fred Mascherino. How do you work with these guys to create exactly what they need?
Working with rockstars, you’re forced to live somewhat of the rockstar lifestyle yourself, which is pretty fucking awesome. Our meetings take place on tour buses and late night hangs and parties after shows, rather than boardrooms and offices. We fly all over to meet up with some of the raddest artists to give them what they want in footwear. We don’t hold normal office hours; we are all over the place. For instance, we had a meeting with Davey Havok of AFI a few weeks ago at his house at midnight. We meet with the artist to figure out exactly what they want and need, then we make it.
What has been your biggest success?
Each of our collaborations is different. Hunter’s shoes always look great and sell well. The Tegan and Sara shoes definitely came out of left field as a good seller. We are all looking forward to the Mike Dirnt shoe. It’s definitely very flashy and cocky, which we dig. We also have releases coming from Frank Iero of My Chemical Romance, of which a portion of the proceeds will be going to benefit the Shirts for a Cure program. There’s two Tegan and Sara designs. More stellar designs from Hunter and Tom D. A sexy high-top/monkey boot fusion from Mike Dirnt along with a design from Russell of Bloc Party. To end our year on a charitable note, we also have a shoe coming out with Andrew McMahon of Jack’s Mannequin to benefit his Dear Jack Foundation.
Tell us about the ‘Sound Of The Future’ campaign that will be a running theme throughout your 2009 collection.
We basically approached 2009 as if it was 2013, and the world had already ended. Luckily our shoes will be just what you need for the apocalypse; we know, cause we’ve been there. You can see the theme elements in all of our artworks, from warplanes to atmospheric events, crazy futuristic prints, all of which convey the idea of the Sound of the Future.
How will you keep changing directions to keep pace with the ever-changing consumer market?
Were going to keep making awesome shoes, and working with the top artists. To be honest, that’s all we need to do.
Any tips to those entrepreneurs out there that want to start their own footwear brand?
Get fucked. With love, Macbeth.