Oct 15, 2013 >> #5MinutesWith Michael Petry of The Frye Company
When you’re the creative director of a company with as rich a history as The Frye Company, it’s a blessing and a curse. A blessing because you’ve got a tried-and-true brand that is recognized for quality, construction and long-lasting appeal. A curse because keeping up with the times can be challenging. But for Michael Petry of Frye, he balances both with ease—marrying Frye’s distinct history while still appealing to today’s ever-changing market.
And his direction was put to the ultimate test this year with the Marlboro, Massachusetts born company celebrating their 150th anniversary. The newest capsule collection—featuring souped up of versions of some of their favorite styles from the vault—is debuted in the newly opened Chicago flagship. We walk the new shop—and, you guessed it!, it smells like great leather and your grandfather’s classic cologne—with Michael to talk Frye history and how he manages to pack light working for a boot company.
Q:You’re at the helm of a company with quite the legacy—how do you preserve the history?
A: The brand has been around for 150 years. It’s timeless. And these shoes were passed down from father to son—they are family heirlooms. From the design to how the shoes are made is what leaves a mark on the brand. And as the oldest shoe company in the US, it’s a matter of these hard working values and not just fashion. We’re making a kick ass artisanal product. They just so happen to look great, too.
Q: Your first pair?
A: The engineer boot. I still have them.
Q: How many shoes can you cram into a suitcase on a business trip?
A: I own one million pairs it seems. But I only take one pair to travel. I pack so light, it’s ridiculous. But at home, I pick what shoe fits how I’m feeling. There is a shoe for every mood!
Q: How did you even wrap your head around starting design work for the 150th anniversary collection?
A: The process is the same since 1863. There are 90 steps to make a boot and a lot of hands. Creating the 150th year collection is about keeping the old traditions alive. It’s what gets me up in the morning.
Shop The Frye Company at 1007 N. Rush Street or shop on-line at TheFryeCompany.com.