photography by lisbeth breland saalmink

What is your background before starting to work with TLC? (Childhood, education, work etc.)

Well, I was born and raised in Jutland, Denmark - but as my mother is Norwegian, I also spent a lot of time with my family in Norway. Those trips meant simple living  - skiing, hiking and fishing and I guess that is where my love for the functional and understated comes from. Of course this also served as a foundation for my passion for items you can make with your bare hands. My education and early work experiences have all been of mercantile nature, but when I look back, I have always positioned myself in the direction of something that involved design - but back then it was mostly furniture and interior design. 

photography by  lisbeth breland saalmink

photography by  lisbeth breland saalmink

Why did you end up making shoes? Was it clear for you at an early point in your life?

My journey in the shoe-business started 15 years ago. In the beginning, this was as a retailer. In those years, my passion for quality and design, always guided me. I only bought very particular styles for my shop. So, when I got the chance to start to develop and produce myself, I immediately felt at home in the process. As a craftsman, I have always had very strong feelings about what I like – and don’t like. Therefore, after many years of learning about all the processes of making shoes, I felt that it was time to create from within. The result became a brand where I could use this wealth of knowledge and my uncompromising taste. That was when – and why - The Last Conspiracy was born.  

Where have you been living throughout your life and where have you been travelling?

My studio is still based in Denmark, but I spend around one third of my time in the atelier and factories in Portugal, and one third in the most important cities around the world for fairs and simply to gather inspiration. Travelling is an important part of creation. It settles the mind.

photography by  lisbeth breland saalmink

Where and how do you choose your different materials and which materials are you using?

For us, the leather selection is essential to crafting the right expression. The treatment and finishing can change the expression completely. We love exploring these processes. However, it is only possible to end up with the perfect texture and quality if you work closely together with your supplier. You have to really understand each other. The few suppliers we have, we have known for years, and when we bring new ideas, it is like going to the playground - we experiment until the texture is right. In this tactile and highly intuitive process, we always marvel when something new and interesting appears in the process. 

For the sturdier styles we use cow and horse leathers and we also have a few styles in camel, buffalo and kudu leather.  When to comes to the more feminine part of the collection, some subtle goat leather is used. If we choose to put a colour in the collection, we test it on the different leathers to see on which one it comes out best. It is important that the natural texture of the leather is still there, even if it has been given a hint of colour.  

Where do you produce the designs?

Everything is indeed produced in Portugal. We work with only a few factories - a team of unique craftsmen that we have been working with for more than a decade. These are people that we have developed a very close connection with. We respect each other’s skills and that means everything when crafting footwear. In many ways we operate as a close knit community. 

photography by  lisbeth breland saalmink

photography by  lisbeth breland saalmink

Do you often visit Scandinavia to keep up with the ideas and aesthetics for the designs? 

As mentioned, I still spend a great deal of my time at home in Scandinavia. This is where I find peace to gather my thoughts and inspirations. It is a perfect backdrop for solitude, ruggedness and clarity.

photography by  lisbeth breland saalmink

How would you describe TLC’s DNA as seen from outside?

When you combine clean lines with leathers of the best quality and skilled craftsmanship, you end up with a product where it is obvious that nothing is fake. The quality speaks for itself and nothing is hidden behind over styling. 
I guess you could say that we are, first of all, shoemakers, and with a love for aesthetics, and that is what we stand for. 

photography by  lisbeth breland saalmink

photography by  lisbeth breland saalmink

Are you thinking about sustainability within your way of producing the designs?

Even though we are not a totally eco-friendly company, we very much care about the environment. Most of our leathers are vegetable tanned and we are still exploring new, even gentler treatments. Leather is not wasted, as we cut to measure and produce to order. Our shoeboxes are made of 100% recycled cardboard and the print on the box we have kept to a minimum. In this manner we do embrace elements in crafting a more responsible way of creating, by contributing to sustainable innovation proactively.

Photography by Lisbeth Breland Saalmink & interview by  Nicklas Thrysøe | S/TUDIO