The Kandahar shoe manufactory was founded in 1932 in Mürren, when Fritz von Allmen laid the first stone for a Swiss success story. Today, Kandahar is a brand recognized throughout Switzerland, offering not only its cult winter shoes but also selected leather-lined shoes.
The Kandahar shoe manufactory is still proudly in the private ownership of the founding family and is now managed in the third generation by Manuel von Allmen. Together with his business partner Mariano Sulmoni, who took over creative management in September 2017, the young managing directors are working on modernising the brand. Mariano is currently working on the worldwide expansion of the Manufacture and, together with his design team, is creating the models of tomorrow.
Currently, the brand‘s nationwide sales network includes over 150 retailers, and it also runs a factory boutique at its production site in Thun.
At Kandahar Shoe Manufacture, quality, timelessness and swissness are the key words. With two collections a year and several collaborations, Mariano continues to design each collection himself and works with his design team on the realization of the shoes. He maintains a close relationship with the Manufacture‘s long-standing suppliers and travels to Italy every season to personally select the materials used to make his creations.
The brand and Mariano are known for their original, creative flair and timeless, classic style, which can always offer something new to loyal customers.
„All around the world, Swiss products stand for quality and luxury. Characteristics that also distinguish our shoes. In order to be able to present our craft and our manufacture to a wider national and international audience and to expand with our brand, we are pleased to announce that we will be part of the Mode Suisse* platform beginning this autumn. With this new collaboration, I would like to show that we are much more than just a brand for winter footwear. All the people in our factory work at the highest level and are very talented. This is why we are launching a Concept Collection for Mode Suisse Edition 18 under the newly created brand KDH1932. The high-quality, one-off productions do not follow any of the manufactory‘s previous rules and stand out for their special design. However, long-standing connoisseurs of our brand will certainly recognize an homage to old times in many models,“ says Mariano Sulmoni, Chief Virtuoso of the Kandahar shoe manufactory.
With this new collaboration, the small manufactory on Lake Thun in Switzerland is focusing on a new sales segment: the concept shoes presented at Mode Suisse will be handmade to order as one-offs for a select clientele. All KDH1932 models meet the highest quality standards and are strictly limited in production. To ensure that all lovers of the brand can enjoy these new models, the concept shoes presented at Mode Suisse will be derived into production-ready models, which customers can then find in the well-known Kandahar collections.
As the last Swiss shoe manufactory, we not only pay attention to the use of the best materials but also to our tradition. Thus, our shoes are still handcrafted today – just as they have been since our foundation. We also rely on tried and tested machinery and mainly use machines from the 1960s. Up to 200 working steps go into the production of a pair of shoes.
Everything starts with the selection of the leather. Our trained specialist personally checks every leather used for the production of our shoes. The shoe parts are then handed over to the sewing room, which not only sews all the parts together, but also stamps the Kandahar serial number on each pair. Thanks to this serial number, we can guarantee the authenticity of the shoes, among other things. The sewn shoe uppers are then carefully fitted to the shoe lasts we have developed. This step is one of the most demanding in our shoe production and gives our shoes the typical Kandahar shape. Afterwards, our sole technicians assemble the matching soles by hand and with a lot of muscle power. An experienced worker needs up to 7 hours to fit the soles on a series of 20 pairs. Before the shoes are then shipped to our customers worldwide, they go through our quality control. All the steps for the production of our shoes are done by our 20-person team in Switzerland.
SWISS ART AT ITS FINEST
The high quality of our shoes is not only due to our production team but also to our suppliers. We only work with suppliers who are among the best in their field and we know all of them personally – no matter if it is about shoelaces, cow skins or soles. This is just as important to us today as it was to the founder almost a hundred years ago and ensures consistently high quality in all phases of production.
Every single shoe from KDH1932 (and of course from Kandahar) is handmade in Switzerland. But this year we wanted to do something that is special even for our shoes: a handmade sole for one of our overknee boots.
For our first Concept Collection we came up with something very unique: For our model HELVETIA we wanted to have a complete, 12.5cm high sole carved out of wood. And that is why we started looking for someone who knows this traditional artistic craft.
In the mountain village Adelboden (canton Bern, Switzerland) we found what we were looking for: The Swiss artist and sculptor Björn Zryd carved our sole with typical Swiss motifs such as cows and edelweiss – all handmade, of course. Just as it should be for Kandahar and KDH1932 for almost one hundred years.
The emblem on the SIGNUM model was also created by these talented hands.
Björn Zryd is a sculptor and painter and maintains a small exhibition room in the stable of the old farmhouse where he lives with his wife. On the left side you can see his studio, where he makes his works of art and where the sole for our HELVETIA boots was made.