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Cycleur de Luxe Founder on Growing a Lifestyle Sneaker Business

When Patrick Vanneste first got the idea for Cycleur de Luxe, he was an amateur cyclist with 13 years in the shoe industry. He was working as a distributor when he put meshed his interests to create a new category of cycling-inspired footwear.

He started the brand in 2011, redesigning an old cycling shoe with a lifestyle outsole. Vanneste recognized that cyclists were a good market for a luxury sneaker. “Cyclists love quality,” he said. “When you see the amount they spend on their bikes, its pretty amazing.”

Beautiful leather uppers have become the collection’s signature. The leathers are sourced in Europe and 95 percent handmade in Europe. Most of the shoes are not designed to be functional bike shoes, but the line pays tribute to cycling culture with stories like a bike chain on the soles of the shoes.

Color is another important part of cyclist culture that has made its way into the shoes. Bikers like having colorful elements in their knits, caps, and the bikes themselves, Vanneste explained. “That’s one of our strengths,” he added. “People are amazed how many color combinations you can have in one shoe.”

For the Spring ’16 line, colorways include indigo blue, white, beige and earthy tones. The cognac tone shows hand-brushed finishings. Vanneste noted that color in particular is “multicultural,” stating that different colors are popular in different places.

Spring ’16 will bring lots of new categories. The casual dress line will expand because more consumers have to dress up during the week. The company will premiere a lightweight hybrid leather sneaker with added nylon, seamless technology and an expanded EVA outsole.

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The women’s collection, 727 Cycleur de Luxe, will also be introduced in the U.S. It is a line that women can wear all week and has experienced great popularity, already being sold in 1,000 stores. Women’s colorways for spring include nude tones, and soft oranges, blues, ecru, and beige.

Vanneste has found that the success of styles varies by area. In New York, the mid-construction has been very successful with the bad weather, while in L.A. sneakers are worn all year long. In Europe, a hybrid dress shoe is popular, dressed up with a strong color twist.

In the states, Cycleur de Luxe’s core customer is linked back to the sport, where the bulk of cyclists are ages 30-55. Vanneste explained, the customer is the type who used to do more impact sports, then “he went into the family life, took some weight, and wants to train and get fit.” The cycling trend can be seen in Central Park or SoHo.

The brand has been especially popular at independent retailers where there is a strong sales force, and the brand can demonstrate their story with in-store displays. In the U.S., Cycleur de Luxe is sold at New York retailers Tip Top Shoes, Paragon Sports, and Shoegasm and in California at Sportie LA.