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By Ruchel Louis Coetzee
Posted On Feb 22, 2017

By: Ruchel Louis Coetzee


When it comes to designing a shoe, the devil is always in the details and nobody knows that better than this homegrown shoe company who is quietly taking America by storm. In 1976, two mad as hell entrepreneurs, Terry Armstrong and Lew Hayden, noticed how cheap foreign manufacturing was fast replacing quality and comfort and decided to do something about it. Just like the little engine that could, San Antonio Shoemakers ™ (SAS) began crafting shoes to exacting standards with the very best materials available in 88 sizes for women and 104 for men, all with breathtaking comfort. To step into a SAS shoe is to step into air. It is that light and cushiony and if you happen to have a bunion or a foot that is WWW wide, this family-owned company will create shoes especially for that shape. Gone are the days you replaced your dress shoes with slippers from your purse when no-one was looking. SAS set a new standard in footwear and today they are carried in 200+ stores and in retailers in across the globe. And if you think these shoes are just for baby boomers in retirement villages, you are mistaken. The shoe designs are modern, without ever compromising on comfort and quality. Here Nancy Richardson, CEO, and Becky Pollina, Head of Design, explain why SAS are bringing old-fashioned quality, comfort and design back to our feet.


How important is the comfort of the shoe over design?

Nancy Richardson, CEO: We are dedicated to creating comfortable shoes that don’t make our customers sacrifice style. Whether our customer is looking for a sandal in up-to-date colors to run errands, a flexible moccasin to pack for vacation, or a ballet flat to work on her feet all day; we offer many styles, sizes, and widths to make sure she’s comfortable and stylish.


When it comes to manufacturing the shoes in the USA – what are the pros and cons?

Nancy Richardson, CEO: Because quality, comfort, and craftsmanship are part of who we are as a company it is hard to pinpoint a con to manufacturing in the USA. However, the best benefit is seeing first-hand, the pride and care our associates put into every pair of shoes we make. We have an incredible team of shoemakers that would be difficult to recreate anywhere in the world.


What motivated the founders of SAS to start the company?

Nancy Richardson, CEO: Our founders, Terry Armstrong and Lew Hayden, had a vision to make the most comfortable, high-quality leather shoes around. In 1976, San Antonio Shoemakers was born in an old airport hangar and is now sold around the world. Our product line is a result of our founders’ hard work and ingenuity. Today, SAS features everything from walking and athletic shoes to pumps, flats, sandals, and even a new boot for women. The men’s line has expanded to include walking, athletic, dress, and a new casual shoe featuring S-Motion Technology™.


What are the dangers of buying a poorly manufactured shoe?

Nancy Richardson, CEO: A poorly manufactured pair of shoes can lead to foot, ankle, knee, and back problems. That’s why SAS has been handcrafting shoes in our factories since 1976 with high standards of quality and innovation. We believe your feet are too important to leave the shoemaking up to anyone else.


I interviewed Stuart Weitzman a couple of years ago, where he spoke of the importance of the shank of the shoe. What are some important aspects when it comes to the design of the shoe?

Becky Pollina, Head of Design: When designing a stylish comfort shoe, there is a checklist of features that need to be met. Footbed comfort is essential, because it is the first reaction you have when trying on a shoe. Being lightweight and having flexibility is also key to comfort. All of our shoes, whether a flat or a wedge, are designed with the most comfortable features possible. It can be the type of foam used in the footbed to gore added in the right places for instep, ball or ankle adjustability.


Where do you source your raw materials?

Nancy Richardson, CEO: Our first choice for sourcing is always the US. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. We also source leather from Italy.


What has been some of your most heartwarming feedback?

Nancy Richardson, CEO: We get positive feedback on our shoes every day. One that comes to mind is a school teacher who described our shoes as “life-changing.” After wearing SAS shoes for eight weeks, she had minimal discomfort, aches, or fatigue. Another female customer thanked us for “realizing women want and deserve to be comfortable and look good at the same time.” It is always heartwarming to hear from customers that what we do has a positive effect on their lives.


What are some of the exciting ideas you would like to implement?

Nancy Richardson, CEO: When I look at the product we have planned for the next few years, I think people will be knocked off their feet with our ability to combine style and comfort.