Good Guys is launching a periodic blog with articles, essays, and interviews about shoes, style, animal protection and wellness, ecology, the environment, arts, music, and entrepreneurship in and out of the Good Guys world.
For our first issue, we’ll meet and talk with Good Guys founder and designer, long-time vegan Marion “Mayon” Hanania. She tells us about early struggles with France’s meat and leather culture, creating a concept from scratch, and how the world evolved in the 10 years she’s run the First French shoe brand.
Marion Hanania by David Ivar
We met Mayon at the Port of Los Angeles, San Pedro, California. She grew up in Paris where she studied art and fashion at École Duperré and École Estienne. She started Good Guys in France and now runs the brand from her bungalow in San Pedro.
GG: Hi, first, what drew you to shoes?
I have loved designing and sewing my own clothes for as far as I can remember. My grandmother was a seamstress in a family business owned by her sister back in Alger (Algeria) where my mother grew up. I learned everything from my grandmother, she had a unique name "Jesuela" and I thought she was so funny when she was teaching me how to build my pants and dresses.
After the grandmother/self-taught phase I went to l'Ecole Duperré, a great art school in Paris, and studied Fashion Design. After graduating I felt an attraction to accessories and shoes in particular. I won a European fashion contest when I was 20 years old and that led me to create my first pair of boots for a prestigious company at the time " La Redoute" and sold 2000 pairs this same summer...It was a hit and I worked with them again and again and started a long journey as a freelance shoe designer for various brands in Paris like Isabel Marant, Ventilo, Christine Phung, Devastée, and more.
GG: Shoes were always defined by leather, what made you confident you could bring a consistent product to the market without harming or killing animals?
I researched it for a while and found out that "microfibers' were the alternative to leather and suede and were highly used in various technical fields like the aeronautic (interiors of planes) the racing industry (the interiors of cars). Microfibers that looked like leather or suede were technical, innovative, strong, resistant to abrasion, heat, waterproof for the most part, and long-lasting. They were created to endure rough conditions and at first mostly made of PU. Now we found amazing materials that are eco-friendly and sustainable, it's evolving. But I was sure that if they were trusting these microfibers for the aeronautic or racing cars it should be great for shoes too.
GG: What was the reaction to your concept, 10 years ago in France?
At first, it was not taken very seriously, people kept asking me "Can we eat them? lol" and I guess the product, the design is what attracted some of my first non-vegan customers and resellers. Pretty quickly, the vegan world opened its arms and welcomed Good Guys with great enthusiasm. I could feel that vegan customers were looking online and I set up an E-shop and started to get customers from all over the world. After 2 seasons I was sold at Colette in Paris and in Japan at United Arrows and Beams and it all started from there.
GG: Do you have a typical customer in mind when you design shoes?
I have to admit that mostly I think about what I want to wear, what is missing in my closet, what new material I can use...I imagine a typical customer to be a person who wants to get a pair that will last for a long time in terms of quality but also in terms of "look and style". So I always design with the idea that we will keep the shoes through many seasons. I want to create a durable product that belongs to our times too. My customers are Vegans and non-vegans, they love fashion but they also love timeless pieces and spending their money wisely knowing that the shoes are beautiful, they will last and they are cruelty-free is what I think is the main reason why they buy from Good Guys.
GG: is there something you wouldn't have thought was possible 10 years ago that turned out to materialize?
I have to say I am very optimistic when it comes to my creations, I Would say "sky's the limit" haha and I always aim for success in my mind :) if I start thinking something is impossible that wouldn't be me. I like challenges and new ideas and collaborations.
The one thing that really blew my mind over the years is that people like Emma Watson, Woody Harrelson, Zach Vouga, Shania Twain, Bryan Adams are wearing my shoes... This is amazing to me.
GG: what is a distant dream for your brand you still hope for?
I hope that we can grow stronger, with a slightly bigger team to stay at human "size" but also work even more efficiently, have more time for amazing collaborations with artists, and develop more accessories, bags, and clothing. For now, we are working with the support of our resellers, suppliers, and customers. We have no investors, I don't know if that is something for the future for us but right now we are a team of two women working with a lot of external collaborators.
GG: Why LA?
Because the ocean is near my house because the sun shines, nature and the city are side by side and I can hear the mariachis singing and playing right now!
Surfing in Venice Beach
GG: tell us about painting?
Painting and drawing have been my passion since I was a child. I left it on the side for a while, only drawing daily in my sketchbooks. Now I am trying to allow this passion to become more real. I paint as much as possible, I have a small studio, I draw for magazines, create album covers, I sell paintings, I show my work in galleries and I hope it will be more of a career than a passion soon.
GG: your 5 records of 2020 ?
- "Norman Fucking Rockwell" - Lana del Rey
- "Notes from Vinegar Hill" - Herman Dune
- "North Dakota" - Tom Brosseau
- "Love and Hate" - Michael Kiwanuka
- "Incredible Vice" - James Levy & Herman Dune