The shoes made by Spanish manufacturer Camper are distinctive for their quirky individuality and extremely high quality. No other shoe manufacturer comes close to matching Camper’s innovative and offbeat style, which brings together comfort, fashion and an enormous sense of fun.
Camper prides itself on finding a balance between practicality and aesthetics; the shoes are works of art, but they are also useful. The manufacturer’s philosophy is that shoes refined over a century in the heart of the Mediterranean should embody the perfect integration of different cultures and ways of life. Accordingly, Camper caters for a variety of tastes and purposes, from boots to smart shoes, casual shoes and even flip-flops.
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The best-known Camper products are pelotas, their trademark simple, plastic-soled, lace-up casual shoes, generally made from brown leather. But it is the company’s most unusual shoes that have got people talking over the past decade: seemingly mismatched pairs made in different colours, or pairs with a stitched image running across from one shoe to the other. The unique thing about the Camper style is that it completely contradicts the standard set by other manufacturers; at Camper, convention is out, while buttons, polka dots, fake fur, asymmetry and deceptive simplicity are in.
Camper – which means ‘peasant’ in Spanish – is by now a vast international enterprise, but the company has its origins in suitably humble beginnings. At the end of the nineteenth century, Antonio Fluxa travelled from Spain to England to study innovations in shoe manufacture. He was inspired to establish his own shoe manufacturing outfit when he arrived back in Spain, but it was not until 1975, when Camper was founded, that the Fluxa family finally made its name on a national scale. The company’s first store opened in Barcelona in 1981, and by the early 1990s Camper was expanding across Europe. It now has shops and department-store concessions all over the world, but its products are also available online.
One of the guiding principles of Camper is that its shoes should above all be comfortable. They are developed with great care for ergonomics, and so it is rare to find Campers with elevated heels or pointed toes. The company’s shoes tend to consist of versatile leather uppers and a rubber sole. They are easy to clean and care for: Camper suggests using a cloth to remove dirt and, if necessary, a colour-free cream to revive the shine of the leather.