In conversation with Pim Dresen
We had a delight speaking with Pim Dresen founder of Mercer Amsterdam is a high-end sneaker label.
Tell our readers who you are in your own words.
You can describe me as a passionate sneaker designer, a creative entrepreneur and collector of unique objects. Tennis has been in my live ever since I took my first steps, I can say that the sport made me who I am, persistent, open minded and respectful. I always had a passion for the American sports heritage, which you can tell, observing my designs.
What is your first memory of shoes and fashion?
By the age of ten I bought my first pair of sneakers at Mercer Street, NYC, those white orange kicks got me more than excited, I can say they were my first love. It was the moment I realized a shoe can be more than an object, for me special sneakers can be a form of art.
Among all the designs so far, which one embodies your personality the most?
I don’t care for doing safe business, I like to go for extraordinary ideas, like the shoe I designed for NASA spacecraft. The creation was born out of my Iconic W3rd design. This sneaker was firstly perceived as quite a disruptive shoe. It was one of the first bulky shoes on the market, and this design took some time to land. It was way before the trend of bulky sneakers hit in and it was just me who felt for the design. When sales of this particular W3rd design went sky high it gave me the confident to fully pursue my own vision. And then when even Nasa wanted to work with me, it literally felt like the sky was my limit.
What gives you confidence in life?
To see the brand growing over the years in an unexpected way. Some of the craziest ideas became the most loved ones.
Who is the one voice that has inspired you the most in your personal life and your career?
After years of entrepreneurships the book Shoe dog, by Phil Knight was launched. I had the feeling I was reading my own words: whatever you do, don’t quit… Of course, doing business in fashion is not only blue skies and among the years also people passed by who shared their mis-believe. I think the words in my head telling me not to quit just gave me that little extra confidence and force to prove my vision was all I needed to create beautiful things.
What is the most daring thing you did recently and tell us something that is not on your resume?
I signed the contract for our first brand store, the moment Covid- 19 kicked in. I just felt for this place, the energy was right, nothing too fancy, just nice light due to the many windows at a unique corner spot at The Pijp in Amterdam. The feeling this was the perfect spot to inspire and be inspired took over and just once more I decided not to go for the safe sight.
What are your upcoming projects and new collections for this year?
We just released a sneaker made from vegan wine leather, made out of Italian deadstock grapes. This vegan material behaves exactly like conventional leather and we were honored to be the first ones to create a sneaker out of it.” Unique vegan materials are an important part of our DNA and we like to make a statement turning them into effortlessly cool designs. We will continue our ‘ It’s not all socks and sandals campaign’, to show our sneakers can be unique and cool and vegan by making a statement with our locally sourced sheep woolen sneaker.
Furthermore, to support the development of a more sustainable fashion industry as a whole, Mercer just started a new project: At our new and first brand store at de Ferdinand Bolstraat 54, de Pijp, Amsterdam, people can bring their old sneakers, not just Mercer but any kind, after which they will receive a discount for their next purchase. An 8,7 percent which symbols the 87 million shoes which end up on the landfill each year. The recycle box can be found at a prominent position in the middle of the store.
The old sneakers will be fully recycled in a small town in the Netherlands, after which new textiles will be created that we also will use for our new designs.“
Why design? What inspired you to embark on a career in this industry?
I always had a passion for unique design in general. Cars, furniture, etc. My ongoing ideas about sneakers and apparel never matched any brand and this made me even change my career as a banker to turn my creative thoughts into something beautiful.
With work you have traveled a lot. What are some of the favorite places you have seen and been to so far and why?
I love everything about NYC, the city which never sleeps, just like me.
What is your biggest outtake from last year?
As the theme of our Spring & Summer season is ELEMENTS and it is about sustainability, nature. Tell us about your perspective on sustainability and environment.
From my personal motivation I changed the game a few years ago from designing a beautiful product to products with a story. This resulted into designing sneakers from the most exclusive plant-based and Vegan materials. We had the honour to be the first brand ever to work with pineapple leather and as I said this month, we pioneered with our Iconic Mercer W3RD sneaker made from Wine leather. Considering fashion is the most polluting industry in the world I think it is very important for us a small brand to make a statement and show that it is possible to make sneakers with alternative materials and source our materials locally instead of internationally. This is why we have been named brand leader of sustainability in the industry of fashion.
What makes MERCER unique and what is the purpose of creating the shoes?
At Mercer we want to change the perception of the consumer regarding sustainable and vegan products.
First we make something cool and special, and then our hidden gem, is the unique sustainable story which lays behind. In this way we can convince people to buy environmentally friendly sneakers who were not even specifically looking for this in the first place.
Mercer started out of a sneaker filled bedroom of a young guy, who was highly excited every time he sold a pair through his web shop. “In the beginning I was so thrilled every time someone would order something, and I would always personally ship the package. That excitement is still present within me and the brand. I never want to make any compromises in creating a high-quality sneaker that is the result of genuine sustainable products and an honest story.”