The story of Allan K told by its founder
Braided leather is in my DNA. In the 50’s of the previous century, the tradition of braided and woven leather spread from the Balkan to the rest of Europe.
The life story of my late father Ivan reads like a thrilling war novel, but unfortunately for him, it was the harsh reality.
Years after losing both his parents at a young age during WWII in Zagreb (former Yugoslavia), he graduated as an engineer. An education that he chose with the purpose to find a job in international shipping.
During his first trip at sea, he ends up in Ghent, where he can evade the political police that travelled with them. He had the intention to join his aunts and uncles, that emigrated to the United States before the war broke out. But applying for a visa for the United States in those post-war times takes a long time, a very long time.
At a party in Brussels, he meets the Belgian Martha De Witte, and a beautiful love story unfolds. He marries her and one month after their marriage, he receives his visa for the United States. They never left.
The couple settles near Antwerp, where compatriots ask him to mechanize the braiding of leather – a traditional craft from the Balkan. In 1963, Ivan invents an ingenious spiral cutter that can cut one long strip, measuring hundreds of meters, from one leather skin. He also builds a first automatic weaving machine especially for leather. Soon, his inventions find their way across the whole world.
I followed the footsteps of my father and graduated as an engineer too. Where my father was a true techie, I preferred to combine my knowledge with developing new markets. At the end of the 80’s, I followed the path of our machines to India, the country that manufactures the best leather for weaving: vegetally tanned goat leather. I set up some collaborations with different leather weavers and represented them across the European market.
The Madras region in India is known worldwide for its fabrication of high-quality shoes and the people there master the traditional craft of hand-woven leather as no one else. The many years as an agent combined with my technical knowledge and my father’s knowhow, stimulated my ambition to build my own brand - Allan K was born.
Since 2012, we have been drawing and designing our products in Antwerp. In Madras, our designs are transformed into the most beautiful leather shoes and bags with impressive know-how. Each Allan K piece is handcrafted according to ancient techniques, which is why it takes 3 to 5 days to completely finish an Allan K creation.
The tactile material is woven and braided into unique and affordable classics with a timeless appeal, that only get more beautiful by wearing them often. As all our pieces are handmade, small irregularities or differences in colour can occur – these make your bag extraordinary and one of a kind.
Because we bring you a niche product, we consciously choose for a small-scale production at our partner’s, who we have been working with for years. The leather is still cut on the machines that my father designed at the time. Watching a pair of shoes being made by the skilled hands of local craftsmen is a delight. The bountiful comfort of wearing the lightly woven leather is unparalleled.
Together we are experts in woven leather and I am proud to honour the heritage of my father by refining his machines and making Allan K an international success.
Allan K stands for an exclusive product that combines tradition and craft with contemporary comfort and a unique look & feel.
Only the best quality, that’s our promise to you.
Founder of Allan K