To celebrate 60 years, the leather company threw an intimate dinner at Frieze London, kicking off a creative partnership with designer Natacha Ramsay-Levi
Sixty years ago, Birte and Karl Toosbuy founded ECCO in Bredebro, Denmark, a small town north of the German border. Karl, a trained shoemaker, dreamed of running his own operation. Today, the lifestyle company is still owned by the same family, who manage factories in six locations around the world, in addition to four tanneries which not only provide leather for ECCO, but to a variety of major luxury brands.
In 2022, ECCO upped the ante with the experimental lifestyle collective At.Kollektive, inviting designers to create capsule collections using ECCO’s resources. To celebrate this development, as well as its 60th anniversary, the brand is embarking on a new creative partnership with Natacha Ramsay-Levi, the former creative director of Chloé, who’s also worked as Nicolas Ghesquière’s deputy at Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton.
ECCO and Ramsay-Levi celebrated this new chapter with a dinner party during Frieze London on October 12, featuring bites by We Are Ona at Maison Colbert, a private residence in Spitalfields, London. Guests including Ashley Park, Paul Forman, Georgia May Jagger, Jerry Hall, Mia Regan, and many more sipped white negroni sbagliatos and grapefruit gimlets, before settling in for a performance by singer-songwriter Jorja Smith. ECCO marked the partnership with the launch of its Modern Family campaign, shot by Sean Thomas, featuring British singer PinkPantheress, her childhood best friend Bleona, pro-rider and stuntman Travis Pastrana, his wife and pro-skateboarder Lyn-Z Pastrana, their daughters, Japanese model-actor Kiko Mizuhara, and her sister Ashley Yuka.
Ramsay-Levi started working with ECCO over a year ago, when she was invited to join the ranks at At.Kollektive. “To me, it was fresh, it was responsible,” she said before the dinner. “And it corresponded exactly [with] what I wanted to do.” Her first two seasons saw chunky boots, a luxe leather puffer, studded sandals, and vibrant handbags; ECCO invited Ramsay-Levi to become a creative partner, envisioning a series of forthcoming drops to appeal to a broader female market. “We visited the factory, and I totally fell in love with the way they work: with the quality of the shoes, with the quality of the company—everything,” said the designer.
Ramsay-Levi’s debut ECCO collection consists of 15 shoe styles, including color-blocked boots, Biom trail pumps, heeled loafers, and sporty ballet flats. “What I’ve done is [take] ECCO shoes—everything that I learned and saw and got struck by—and put my tastes on [them],” explained the designer. Ramsay-Levi said that she played with the proportions of existing mainstays to form the collection, adding bursts of color throughout. “My point of view was more [about] taking things that already have success, that consumers can be comfortable with—but looking at them through very different eyes,” she said.
Ramsay-Levi said that working for ECCO has been a novel challenge. “I don’t use the same reflex as I used to, [designing] a collection for luxury high fashion,” she explained. “It’s not the same story, it’s not the same way [of doing] things.” For Ramsay-Levi, it’s all about the shoes, which can be interpreted in ways that complement the wearer’s personal style: “It’s about making a shoe that looks good, that works good, that has a good function.”
The next ECCO drop is slated for early 2024. Shop the current collection here.