Back to News

Orcatex Design - Interview with Mitchell Fein

July 13, 2015

Orcatex Design president Mitchell Fein often cites his late grandfather, who always said, “There is only one way to do things- the right way.”  Each pair of Orcatex Design shoes are crafted with pride that can only come from a real grass roots company.  Still, Mitchell is excited about the future of Orcatex.  “With any new brand, there is always the challenge of gaining awareness,” he says.  “However, everyone who sees the shoes wants a pair, so retailers with the gumption to try something that just isn’t out there will be amazed at how well our shoes perform.”  With fashion, functionality and versatility coming together with the meaningful addition of helping a worthy cause, Orcatex Design is poised to be the next big thing.

We wanted to be ahead of the curve, so we got the scoop from Mitchell about how Orcatex Design was started and where the brand is going.

What is the story behind Orcatex Design?

Orcatex Design
finds it roots in Long Island, New York where the company’s founders grew up in and around the waters of Long Island Sound.  When company president Mitchell Fein stumbled on an interesting material typically used for padding, the self-professed casual footwear aficionado immediately envisioned the material as perfect for a new breed of shoe that would be feather light, yet provide the coverage, protection, and grip that would make it the ideal “go anywhere” shoe: one that could take you from the surf, beach, pool, or deck right into town.  The company was established in Port Washington, New York to bring a new lifestyle brand to everyone who wants to embrace the company slogan Step Happy.

When did the brand launch and what have been the major milestones so far?

Product development for Orcatex Design started in the summer of 2013, with the line’s debut at the Orlando Surf Expo in January 2014.  The first shoes were shipped for retail sale for Spring/Summer 2015.

How was the material developed?

The original material that was the inspiration for Orcatex Design went through a rigorous design overhaul to become the upper material called Orcatex that is used today.  We sought a material that was flexible, breathable, packable, odor and bacterial resistant, yet durable, washable and lightweight.  We also wanted a material that was eco-friendly.  After months of working with chemists, the perfect combination of EVA was formulated to become the company’s proprietary upper.

How did you ensure that these shoes would be ready for anything when developing the material?

As noted above, the formulation of the material was extremely challenging as it was critical that it meet our required specifications.  With each iteration, the shoes were put through rigorous testing- not only in labs, but more importantly on the beach, docks, decks, and streets.  After all, they’re designed to be the perfect “go anywhere” shoe.  Where ever we wore the shoes, everyone stopped and noticed.  As versatile as the designs were for both kicking back surfside and going into town, they were also just the thing for pre-and après health club/gym spa, golf or tennis.  The minimalist comfort of a flip flop combined with the coverage and non-slip soles of a shoe give Orcatex the flexibility to go places where open-toed shoes just cannot go.

Who are Orcatex Design’s largest competitors?  How does the brand separate from them?

Anyone who sees the company’s two designs, the Classic and the Boat, agree there is simply nothing like them out there.  The uniqueness of the upper material really sets the brand apart.  The shoes are displayed hung at retail on the company’s unique whale shaped hanger and would hang with offerings from Sanuk, Crocs and other lifestyle footwear.

Why was targeting the conservation of orca whales and other marine life important for the brand?

We feel every successful business should make a positive impact that goes beyond solely making profits.  That is why we chose company namesakes orca whales and marine wildlife in general as part of the firm wide cause-branding efforts.  A portion of the company’s profits goes towards charitable organizations championing these worthy causes to keep our oceans and seas wild and free.

How do you foresee the brand growing in the future?

The possibilities for Orcatex Design are limitless.  The company’s flagship style, the Classic will be adding at least 10 new colors for Spring/Summer 2016, as well as two-toned versions.  The company is also exploring licensing possibilities with both collegiate and professional sports teams.  Other styles, including the Boat are also set to debut in 2016.  Currently unisex sized from women’s size 5 to men’s size 12, plans are in the works to add children’s sizes.

Where is Orcatex Design sold?

The shoes are available at general shoe retailers, surf shops, marinas, health clubs, golf clubs, beach shops and coming soon to resorts and cruise lines.  They have been a hit at independently-owned surf shops like Ocean Grove, NJ’s OG Surf and Skate, Rick’s Action Sports of East Islip, New York, Mocean Surf Shop in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, and Montauk, New York’s Sunset Surf Shop and MTK.  The shoes are also available at the company’s online store

The company also has generated a strong social media following on Twitter and Instagram, with fans tagging their Classics under the hashtag slogan #StepHappy.  Bloggers have raved about the shoe, such as Buccaneer Board Riders who called it “An incredibly light weight shoe that feels like you are wearing nothing at all.  It’s the perfect shoe for surfers…”