Not So Common

Text by Lilibet Snellings

In 2004, Peter Poopat and Flavio Girolami were in search of a simple but sophisticated sneaker, something you could wear with shorts or a suit. But everywhere they looked, sneakers were gilded in over-the-top gaudiness—electric-colored laces, camouflage Swooshes, fluorescent air pockets, zebra stripes and Shox. “Everything sort of screamed with colors and branding. We just wanted a basic shoe, made really well, without the baggage of a brand,” Poopat says.

Their response was to launch Common Projects, a line of men’s footwear that is intentionally, and refreshingly understated. With their muted color palette and minimalist designs, they’ve been called the Jil Sander of the sneaker world, though they now do much more than just sneakers. The NY and Italy-based company has expanded from their original shoe, The Achilles, which looks like the high-fashion cousin to the high-top Converse, and The Court shoe, which looks like a Wimbledon-worthy leather Rod Laver, to newer non-sneaker models like The Oxford, a dangerously handsome lace-less leather loafer.
The branding is (unsurprisingly) understated as well; Common Projects shoes, which are made of hand-stitched Italian leather, do not have any exterior labels. Instead, a 10-digit barcode is subtly stamped on the side of each shoe. Poopat, who was previously the Art Director at V Magazine says, “We just weren’t really into labels. Of course we had our favorite designers, but often would be turned off if it was immediately recognizable. We loved the idea of making something that a person could make their own. The idea of a blank canvas was interesting.” The result of the duo’s unique approach is a line of contemporary interpretations of timeless classics that are recognized for their style, not for their logo.