There is a lot of knowledge about shoes and leather in our company. Our shoes are the result of great passion and love for the craftsmanship. Many generations of children have taken their first steps in a pair of Kavat-shoes through the years. We work hard so that there will be many more. The ambition to make the world’s best children’s shoes is as clear today as it was when Ragnar Karlsson founded the shoe factory Ymer, which later became Kavat.
Ragnar was born in 1911 and grew up in Kumla which lies about 20 kilometers south of Örebro. He started working for C.A Jonssons shoe factory in 1926. He was 15 years old and made 10 crowns and 56 öre a week. After only two weeks in the factory, he lost his thumb in a punching machine. “That didn’t discourage me!” Ragnar said in a 1986 interview. In 1945 Ragnar decided to start his own business. Back then Ragnar made all kinds of shoes, both for adults and children, but mostly for other brands. Ragnar always made shoes with a sense of quality and he did not take shortcuts.
“No damn garbage!”, Ragnar said.
It was not until the 1970’s when the son Bengt Karlsson had taken over that the decision was made to start manufacturing shoes under the own brand Kavat. When other shoe manufacturers were closing down in Sweden, Bengt invested in modern technology. Together with his wife Birgitta he developed a unique process which laid down the foundation for a style and design language that lives on today.
The brand got its name from the family’s dachshund Kavat.
The Swedish word Kavat means plucky and courageous, characteristics that have always defined the company through the years. We have the courage to challenge the throwaway mentality and are guided by the values that Ragnar once founded the business on. Quality pays off and is more economical in the long run.
This is the Kavat team infront of the factory in Travnik, Bosnia in October 2014.
Today, 70 years later we are especially proud over the development we have seen through the years. A new generation of consumers chooses a more sustainable lifestyle. There’s an increasing demand of Kavat even far outside of Sweden’s borders. In 2008 we had our first shoe certified under the EU Ecolabel.
The classic model Edsbro became the world’s first ecolabelled children’s shoe.
We worked hard during a few years to convert our production. Today more than 50 of our models are certified with the EU Ecolabel. During 2014 we opened our first Kavat store on Korsgatan 4 in Gothenburg. 2017 we also have shops in Kumla, Stockholm and Malmö.
Today Kavat is an international company with a turnover of about 12 million Euros. We manufacture about 400.000 pairs of shoes every year, out of which 350.000 are made in our own factory in Bosnia. The choice to establish our factory in Bosnia came naturally because we took on a lot of refugees in the 1990’s during the Balkan war. At that time it was hard to recruit skilled craftsmen to a shoe factory in Sweden. And there was a lack of local subcontractors. So in 2009 we established our own factory in a region with long shoe traditions. There we found the craftspeople, subcontractors and structure we were lacking in Sweden for that kind of commitment.
During the autumn of 2017 we are moving into a new shoe factory in Bosnia. In the factory there are new machines and a new sewing section which enables us to make even more shoes. The factory is state-of-the-art with an environmentally friendly heating system, air conditioning and exclusive use of renewable energy. This creates a pleasant work environment and is consistent with our sustainability philosophy.
We believe that the best working environment enables us to manufacture the best and most durable shoes.
In Ragnars spirit the fourth generation continuous to create new traditions. A new way in old style. That may explain why Kavat is worn by people all over the world. Please visit us on Facebook and Instagram and join the journey to the future. And the future, it starts with our history!