Talk about a whirlwind year for Philéo Landowski.
This time last year, the 19-year-old was presenting the inaugural collection of his sneaker label Phileo at Comme des Garçons’ Trading Museum.
This month, its addition to the roster of brands under the Dover Street Market Paris umbrella — Eli Russell Linnetz ERL, Vaquera, Weinsanto, Honey F–king Dijon, Liberal Youth Ministry, Rassvet, Sky High Farm and Youths in Balaclava — was equally swift.
“It just happened last Saturday, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.,” the designer said, with the tone of someone who can’t quite believe any of it.
The arrangement includes a space to showcase his collections as well as support for commercialization and press.
But going in the fast lane seems to be one of his character traits. At an age when other teenagers are considering college options, Landowski is already on his second company with Phileo, which means “I love” in ancient Greek.
After an injury put paid to his freestyle scootering days and the business that went with them, which he founded at age 13, another might have gone back to school. Not Landowski.
He dropped out of high school, then formal education altogether in favor of internships, including at Celine in production at the tail end of Phoebe Philo’s tenure. “I’m really driven by passion and [a need] to learn continuously,” he said, adding that it was around that time he decided to design sneakers, which he’d long collected.
“Any money I ever had, I spent on them,” he said, explaining that his fascination was born from an early love for automotive design, which moved on to kicks once he saw the parallels between the functional yet architectural lines of both objects. “Plus, when you’re underage, sneakers are your ‘car’ of choice,” he added.
A chance meeting with British-born, Paris-based artist Katerina Jebb led to an introduction to Dover Street Market chief executive officer and Comme des Garçons International president Adrian Joffe at the very early stages of the sneaker label.
“When I understood who Katerina’s friend ‘AJ’ was, I Googled him and spent the following two weeks being petrified about meeting [someone of his stature] at a time where I knew absolutely nobody in fashion,” Landowski said.
But the nerve-wracking prospect of a 30-minute appointment with the seasoned executive turned into a long conversation that culminated in an offer to launch his footwear at the Trading Museum in Paris.
Joining the Dover Street Market Paris showroom will allow Landowski, who has also landed a gig as a creative consultant for sportswear specialists Salomon in the last year, to redirect his focus on design and improving sustainability. “The wider goal every season is to be as clean as possible, but also to grow in a reasoned, realistic way,” he said, who added that the sneakers would continue to be produced by the label’s existing manufacturers in Portugal.
The Phileo signature is retro-inflected styles, often with chunky soles and using non-animal materials, like canvas or plant-based alternatives to leather. Designed as a unisex range, the lineup now also includes derbies and mary jane-style shoes in an inclusive size range from a French size 36 to 45 (or the U.S. equivalent to a women’s size 5 and up to a men’s 11).
The label’s fourth season is inspired by the designer’s childhood home in the South of France, where his great-grandfather had a cobbler’s workshop. It will be shown from Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 alongside the collections of ERL Kids, Vaquera, Weinsanto and Honey F–king Dijon, as part of DSMP’s spring 2022 physical showroom which is now located at the 3537 multiuse space in the Marais.
FOR MORE, ALSO SEE: