The Lainas Story
I do not believe that when my great grandfather began his own small shop in 1952 he would be creating not only a family legacy but a highly regarded sandal line as well. He had no thoughts of creating a brand that would be welcomed in countries like Japan and others across the world.
My great-grandfather, Antonis Papadopoulos, was a refuge from Thraki where his craft was shoe repair. He worked for some years in Athens prior to opening his own modest shop in the center of Athens at Plaka. This was located just a few hundred meters from the Acropolis where he and future generations would receive inspiration for his handcrafted Greek sandals.
As each subsequent generation took the lead of our boutique manufacturing, they added their own touch to the expansion and mission of the company. But some things never changed. The handmade Greek sandals are always made of the finest Greek and Italian leather. We have been more concerned with quality and design than becoming a huge corporation with hundreds of employees. We have always embraced the warmth of a company business. While now we have expanded to five employees that are not related to us, they still consider us family – as we do them!
Generations of Excellence
Antonis Papadopoulos handed the reins over to my grandfather, Nicolas Lainas, with whom I share his name. He moved the atelier to Dafni increasing the number of employees to three, which did include my father. I loved that shop because my grandfather allowed me to ride my little bicycle through the aisles of boxes, always knocking them down. With love and peace in his heart, he would always pick them up and put them back in place.
When my father took over, he moved the shop to a larger space in Tavros that is just 2 km from the Acropolis, where it remains today. My father was all about quality. He wanted superb comfort and wanted our leather Greek sandals to last for years. This mission was built into each pair of shoes. The company became being one of the first manufacturers in Greece to produce sandals 11 months of the year. What also became a small source of pride was that other designers of fashion sandals began using some of our designs and practices.
Nicolas Lainas Today
My father instilled in me the work ethics I remember to this day. He ensured he was kind and respectful to employees. If they are happy, they produce happy shoes. The pride and quality will be there. Just because I am the Lainas in charge now, he is never far away to lend advice and help whenever needed.
I was 26 years old when I took over the operation in 2011, I had learned a lot by paying attention and by playing around the Atelier through the years. The business was in my blood. As in each generation I have placed my stamp on the growth of the company. Our mission is to continue to make the finest in women’s handmade Greek sandals that will feel good, look good and be a part of today’s fashion. Quality always comes first, and we continue to use only the finest leather from Greece and Italy.
In 2011 we participated for the first time in the Micam, the most important shoe fashion expo in the world, in the heart of fashion, Milano. While the economy in Greece was ebbing, we managed to export 75% of our production into Italy and Japan. Today we consider our original Italian and Japanese customers as our friends.
We continue to improve our handcrafted sandals and add more style and innovations each year. We now export to places like Dubai, Guadalupe, Curacao and many more locales that Antonis Papadopoulos never even dreamed possible. We have also begun a line for little girls named after my daughter, Elena Laina. Now little ladies can have their own sandals in sizes that fit girls three years and older. Who knows, one day she will be the head of the company and bring her own brand of ideas with her!