Martel+Ram is a stylish new addition to the Men’s Footwear market whose notion of “trainers for grown ups” is based on the idea that style should not be compromised for comfort.
Gents of London always enjoy introducing our readers to hidden gems around London that you may not have, but certainly should discover. Meet our good friend and premium shoe makers over in Marylebone, Martel+Ram.
Classic shoes with Sport Level comfort designed to appeal to the generation who grew up in trainers but find, in their words, that it’s not “appropriate to wear Stan Smiths all the time”.
Distinctly English, born and raised in London, Martel+Ram have a stunning range of classic footwear ranging from Derby’s, Loafers and a brand new must-have Desert Boot. Coupled with an attention to detail in both the finishing and accessories (coloured and patterned laces an optional addition) they are a company that is definitely on the same wavelength as Gents of London.
Let us sort your “Barnet”, they’ll handle the “Rhythm & Blues”!
We popped into the Martel+Ram store at 56 New Cavendish Street in Marylebone to catch up with Designer Kevin Martel and Co-Founder Charley Ram to find out a little bit more about them and the brand.
Charley and Kevin – they love their job honestly!
Describe the Martel+Ram brand to someone who may not know who you are?
CR: The Martel+Ram mission is to make classically designed English footwear with trainer level comfort.
Most quality English shoes are still made with 19th Century processes. This look and nostalgia will continue to have its place in the market, but there’s a significant and growing portion of the English footwear customer base that wants a more sport-inspired product and brand. We are creating shoes for the future, using quality materials and modern construction techniques that are more akin to your favourite trainer than too heavy and restrictive Goodyear Welted shoes.
We love the style and shape of classic English footwear, but comfort is non-negotiable to us now; especially as both are entirely achievable.
How and when did you create the concept for the brand?
KM: I have essentially been working on this hybrid concept for my entire career whether it was Cole Haan’s collaboration with Nike, Polo Sport or the ‘deconstruction‘ ethos at Armani. When we decided to launch a new label, the first thing we wanted to emphasis was comfort. The design also had to look tailored and polished because that is where other brand’s hybrid approach falls apart – they just look too casual for most guys, and their work lives.
Although described as “Trainers for Grown Ups,” your shoes are very stylish? Where does that inspiration come from?
CR: Virtually everyone under 50 years old, certainly in Western Europe and the US, grew up wearing trainers, and we’ve become accustomed to the comfort that they bring. However, it just isn’t appropriate to wear Stan Smiths all the time. Finding a sweet spot between a tailored trainer and a deconstructed dress shoe will be the future of men’s footwear, as the typical work dress-code slowly becomes less formal. What is a Stan Smith apart from a leather upper stitched onto a rubber sole? Our shoes are made in a very similar fashion, just with significantly better materials. Also, I think the “Trainers for Grown Ups’ is a good description for of brand as we’re fans of the white sole look which makes a ‘dress’ shoe has that crisp, sporty look like a trainer.
Do you have a personal favourite product?
CR: I live in my blue suede Derbies. I’ve personalised mine with some of our Stolen Riches laces; I love a bit of personalisation.
KM: I’m a Loafer guy. I will be buried in a pair of classic penny Loafers…with no socks.
Yeah, I’ve seen that you offer to accessorise your Derby with coloured laces; how have they been received?
CR: Really well, and I love being surprised by the choices people make. I can think of more than one very formally dressed, a slightly older chap who has bought some black shoes from us for work and added some pink camo or fluorescent yellow laces to them! It warms my heart!
What are your plans for Martel+Ram in 2022?
CR: Lots more product and choice. We have a new brown suede Desert Boot and black gloss calf Loafer arriving at the end of February. We’re excited to launch these two, all my friends and family are on at me for a Desert Boot, and a black gloss calf Loafer is about as ‘everyday’ as a shoe gets. In April we have more summer Loafers and more Derbies in light and dark soles too.
KM: I’m also working on some more new styles for later in the year, like a classic Brogue and a Chelsea boot. It is not about creating giant collections just for the sake of presentation. The brand mission is to create a wardrobe of key styles that every guy needs and to keep offering new options for colour and materials.
Is there a particular Martel+Ram customer or have you found your shoes appeal across the board?
CR: We’re a brand for everyone, but we’re speaking to ‘fashion-conscious men’ more than ‘fashionistas’, if you get my analogy. Our customer spans a wide age range, though. We have many customers in their 50s or 60s who have been wearing traditional English footwear for 30 years but have had enough of that heavy and rigid feel. Those guys are thrilled to find a more comfortable alternative, still made with classic patterns and shapes. Likewise, millennials need trainer comfort across all of their footwear.
What’s on your in-store playlist?
KM: Radio 6, KCRW Los Angeles and random Italian radio stations from my past.
As a fellow proud London brand, how much does our city factor into your product design and marketing?
KM: London is a mecca for classic menswear, so naturally, this informs everything we do. Men dress well here, and tailoring is really important – its very different to American or Italian style. We try to share this viewpoint in the way we project the brand, but we’re also not pushing a ‘designer’ agenda. This is a brand for every-man.
Who are your style icons?
KM: My years working for Ralph Lauren and Armani had a significant effect on me. I think they are both geniuses in their own way. Their design philosophies are about longevity, not trend.
Tell us a London hidden treasure that you feel may appeal to our readers?
KM: The Wallace Collection. The basement is filled with the most incredible collection of Arms and Armour. It makes Game of Thrones look like Blue Peter.
CR: Spring is coming, so it’s nearly time to enjoy beers in the sunshine! Any pub on the canal in Little Venice is great if the weather is good. The balcony at The Waterman’s Arms in Barnes that overlooks the river is a proper hidden gem. The massive beer garden at The Hootannay in Brixton will be a great spot to watch the Euros in the Summer. Finally, the food stalls at Herne Hill market on a Sunday have sorted me out after an indulgent Saturday more than once.
Describe your “go to” look for day to day London life?
CR: Correctly fitting jeans, any decent knitted polo button up correctly, a classic Harrington with tartan lining, a flat cap and your favourite pair of Martel+Rams. You can go anywhere in that and doors will open.
Words By Mr Richie Kyle, Gents of London’s resident ‘man in the know’.