You’ll find a lot of knowledge about shoes and leather with us. Our shoes are the result of a great passion and love for the craft. Generations of children have taken their first steps in Kavat shoes and we work tirelessly for more generations to come. Our aim, to create the world’s best children’s shoes, is as integral today as it was when Ragnar Karlsson founded the shoe factory Ymer, which later on became Kavat.
Ragnar “Ragge” Karlsson, founder.
Ragnar was born in 1911 and grew up in Kumla, about 20 kilometres south of Örebro, Sweden. He started working at the C.A. Jonssons shoe factory in 1926. He was 15 years old and made 10 crowns and 56 öre a week – a bit more than 1 euro in today’s worth. Just two weeks into his employment at the factory he lost his thumb in a punching machine. “That didn’t discourage me!” said Ragnar in a 1986 interview. In 1945 Ragnar decided to start his own business.
Back then Ragnar produced all kinds of shoes, both for children and adults, and mostly for other brands. But always with the same commitment to quality. “No damn garbage!”, Ragnar used to say.
Not until the 1970’s, after Ragnar’s son Bengt Karlsson had taken over, the decision was made to start manufacturing shoes with their own brand Kavat. In a time when other Swedish shoe manufacturers closed down, Bengt invested in modern technology and developed a unique process, and together with his wife Birgitta, they 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 couragous, characteristics that through the years have always defined the company. 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 picture was taken in October 2014 with the whole Kavat team gathered in front of the Kavat factory in Travnik, Bosnia
And here we are, 70 years later! And we are especially proud of the development we’ve hade in the recent years. A new generation of consumers are choosing a more sustainable life style. There’s an increasing demand of our shoes, also outside of Sweden’s borders.
Edsbro – Eco-labelled in 2008!
In 2008 we had our first shoe labelled with the EU Ecolabel. Our classic Edsbro model became the world’s first eco-labelled children’s shoe. We worked hard for a few years to convert our production. Today we have more than 50 models for both children and adults, certified in the EU Ecolabel registry. 2014 saw the opening of our first Kavat store, on Korsgatan 4 in Gothenburg.
In 2015, Kavat will have a turnover of almost 10 million Euros and manufacture about 300,000 pairs of shoes, out of which 250,000 are made in our own factory in Bosnia. Besides Kavat, shoes are also made for Oscar Jacobson, Blankens and our own premium brand Italigente. Those shoes are made in Italy through our subsidiary Italigente Milano Srl.
Kavat has become an international company. 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. Together with those who came to Kumla back then, we took Kavat to Bosnia in 2009. Our own factory was built in an area with a long tradition in shoe manufacturing. There we found the craftspeople, subcontractors and structure we were lacking in Sweden. The shoe production still taking place in Sweden was set up in conjunction with our 70th anniversary. It is small scale and is carried out in cooperation with the Shoe Industry Museum in Kumla, Sweden.
Our presence in Italy is completely natural. Where else to be if you love shoes? From Italy we also carry materials and components across the Adriatic Sea to Bosnia.
With Ragnar in mind, we keep on creating new traditions. A new way in an old fashioned style. Maybe that explains why Kavat has found new followers in all corners of the world. And we hope we’ll get even more.
Please visit us in our social media channels and join us into the future.Of course, it starts with our history!