At a time when white trainers were completely out of fashion and couldn’t be found anywhere at all, Jörg Rohwer-Kahlmann and Andreas Klingseisen simply began to design their own shoes. They placed particular emphasis on quality, sustainability and a minimalistic design. These Munich locals are particularly proud of their “Made in Germany” label.
What strikes you immediately is that VOR shoes do without any superfluous details – even the logo is discreetly stamped onto the sole of the shoe. Understatement is really the name of the game. “We simply believe less is more. Creating something that is aesthetically balanced but still exciting with just a few elements is more difficult than creating something cluttered” explains Jörg Rohwer-Kahlmann. And he should know – he spent years designing trainers for Puma, which provided him with all he needed to know to start his own shoe label.
His companion Andreas Klingseisen – who used to work as a personal trainer – is also a self-confessed trainer fan: back when they shared a flat they owned around 400 pairs, which they arranged on the walls of the hall in their old apartment, just like in a store. Since then, both Munich locals, who have been friends since they were children, have drastically reduced their shoe consumption, and now only wear VOR models. “For us, it’s to do with sustainability. We have no more need for trainers that simply sit around at home.”
Production takes place entirely in Germany, to be precise in a small factory in Rhineland-Palatinate, while the shoe boxes are made in Thuringia and are recyclable. Klingseisen and Rohwer-Kahlmann obtain the leather, however, from a small family-run business in Italy. And although their base is in Munich, anybody can get their hands on a pair of VOR shoes: from small Bavarian towns to huge North-German cities, from fashion shops in little villages to department stores such as the Kaufhaus des Westens in Berlin. In fact, all it takes is a click in the company’s own online shop.
Rohwer-Kahlmann and Klingseisen also put their minimalist approach into practice when naming their products, which are given simple numbers as names – the 1A is the all-rounder, which is very popular with men and women of all ages. The Munich-based designers think the 2A is their “most emotional” style for men. “There are devoted fans who wear only this model and wait for every new colour to be released.”
The label is good for innovations too, since the designers have developed a new type of insole for their shoes. A special memory foam offers the wearer excellent shock absorption for the entire life of the shoes, as well as excellent wearing comfort. It is further evidence of the demands these Munich locals have of high-quality products.
Do they plan to expand their product lines to include streetwear in the future? “We’re not really thinking about caps and shirts”, predicts Rohwer-Kahlmann. “It will always be VOR, though, and will fit in with the overall philosophy. Maybe you’ll be surprised…”