Fair warning, this post is going to get a little sappy, but it comes from a sincere place. We think it's important to tell you about where Startas come from and why they are here.
Startas come from Vukovar, deep in the heart of Croatia. Not a stop on the usual Croatian summer travel circuit, and probably not a place familiar to most of you. Startas were created 40 years ago and quickly grew to represent a culture of youth and fun; at a time when Western brands were scarce, Startas were the Converse of Yugoslavia.
Up until the 1990s Vukovar was pumping out lots of great shoes and Startas sneakers, employing thousands of people in the process. It was a proud company town. Then there was war. Homes, business were destroyed; lives interrupted; the city was transfigured. What was once a vital commercial center became largely a wasteland.
Vukovar today is mending itself, but signs of the past are hard to ignore. And yet something really wonderful and hopeful is happening, and it starts with people and shoes. A few passionate people who see potential in this hibernating industry are injecting passion, skill and pride back into this business, and that’s where Startas come in.
Over the last few years, production of Startas has resumed. It's a fraction of what it once was, but the designs are once again fresh and people are taking notice. People who never thought anything good would come out of Vukovar again are finding hope in the growth of this little brand.
Because Startas really are made by hand (no, seriously), using pre-war (that's WW2) tools and techniques, they represent a counter argument to cheap mass production. Startas are proof that a quality, affordable shoe can still be made by hand and with significant volume to compete against big name brands. The basic reality is, the more Startas people buy, the more people are required to make them, the more permanent jobs are created. In a country, like much of Europe, struggling with high unemployment that really means something.
So why is Startas here? Well for one, Startas is not a cause, and not looking for a handout. It’s also not trying to save the world, or reinvent the wheel or disrupt something. It’s a sneaker. It’s made by hand, it’s made from real stuff, and it’s made in a place and not just a factory. Startas is finally here in the US, because the people who make them and love them are once again prideful of their products and their city. Pride is a powerful thing. We're proud to offer you Startas, and we hope you'll feel some of that pride when you wear them. Hvala.