Acquo – the story of a fashion rubber boot

It was during the late 1970’s that businessman Bengt Sjöstrand, active in the rubber and plastic industry, decided to create beautiful, high-quality fashion rubber boots for women. The boots became far more popular than Bengt could ever hope for, and these boots came to revolutionize the shoe industry in several ways.

Bengt had a friendship and a collaboration with Karin Geiger, who was a Swedish pioneer in fashion design. Karin was better known by the name “Katja of Sweden” and designed boots for Tretorn in the late 1960s and thus laid the foundation for the upcoming Acquo boots.

When Bengt decided to start his production with ACQUO, the boots were manufactured at Tretorn’s rubber factory in Helsingborg, with the same leather used for several of “Katja of Sweden’s” boot models.

These new Tretorn boots quickly became known and incredibly popular. They were sold in Sweden, USA and England, among others, and were carried by lots of women in London and Stockholm as well as in many other of the world’s capitals.

Katja of Sweden considered that the boots were unisex and wanted to make an advertisement that was as revolutionary as the boot itself. Her suggestion was to make an ad that would include young people, both girls and boys. A few days later they took photos for the campaign and just as Katja of Sweden wanted, there were pictures of a girl and a guy. Both wore high boots from Tretorn which became the foundation for the ACQUO boots.

Made in several different models

When the collaboration started between Katja of Sweden and Tretorn, a tall, slim boot was first named Katinka. The boot was available in the colors black, red and antique brown. It was the first time you made a rubber boot in such a thin and flexible rubber and also the first time you used stretch lining. In the autumn of 1970 several new models came from Katja of Sweden. The boot Karenina with a slightly higher heel, Candida which had a collar and several other boots with such as structure and crocodile pressed rubber.

At the beginning of the 1970s, new boots were launched each year, still in the same style with high and narrow shaft and both high and low heels. The focus of the production was on the boots being fashionable and elegant. They chose to name the new collections according to different cities, including Zurich and Budapest. Budapest was an elegant boot that was up to 44 cm high and with 5 cm heel. It was also manufactured with a plateau sole, in the 80s. It is this Budapest boot that stands as a model for today’s Acquo models, with the slightly higher heel.

Sales of Tretorn’s fashion rubber boots flourished and the soft, elegant boots were sold in several exclusive stores around the world. The model Katinka was a bestseller in the UK especially where the luxury store Russel & Bromley, among others. The collaboration continued for many years during the 70s and 80s and Tretorn also produced a couple of special models exclusively for the store.

This description of ACQUO boots from the 70’s is in Swedish only.

Quality over quantity

Bengt, a businessman, saw how the success of these fashion rubber boots from Tretorn only grew and was used by women from many parts of the world. He then decided to make a whole series of fashion rubber boots for the modern woman. The Acquo boot was born. Launch came in the late 70’s. the number. Then came a whole series of rubber boots, which were now starting to sell all over the world. It was also the first time that someone had manufactured a high-heeled rubber boot. Something brand new and received a lot of attention in fashion magazines all over the world. But, what exactly was so special about these boots?

In an old brochure from the 1980s we find that the Acquo boots were made of a soft and elastic natural rubber that was 10 times more durable than, for example, vinyl plastic. The natural rubber used for the boots was made from juice that came from the rubber tree “Hevea Brasiliensis”. It was thus a material that at that time had stiff competition from synthetic rubber and plastic. Acquo itself expressed in the brochure that there was a mass production of cheap synthetic rubber and seat boots, while Acquo instead invested heavily in quality rather than quantity. The pure undiluted rubber used in the Acquo production was something quite different from the hard traditional rubber boots. They had a soft and pliable feel that was compared to that of a calfskin coat.

Each boot was built on aluminum sheets made of pieces that were cut out of the rubber tricycle and which together formed a unique boot. Each boot was painted with great care and finally vulcanized for a magnificent finish that made them durable for years to come. The big sales pitch in the ad was that the Acquo boots made the user feel attractive and they urged that these boots be seen as an investment in their wardrobe.

Acquo is making a comeback in modern times

In addition to creative boot designs, Bengt Sjöstrand was also a skilled businessman in many areas. After several years with the Acquo boots, he had to concentrate on what was his actual product, importing women’s clothing. They stopped manufacturing the Acquo boots and the production was shut down. The years went by and the beautiful Swedish-made Acquo boots in the 1970s and 1980s became a well-spoken legend in the shoe industry. Their quality had stood out through the ages and the boots bought in the 70’s are still as soft and supple as when they were new. Many began to wonder if they might start manufacturing the boots again.

Jessica Lingonstierna, was the one who made sure that Acquo made his comeback in modern times. She met founder Bengt Sjöstrand in 2010. They became good friends and when she saw the remaining stock of the Acquo boots she got her idea. Jessica then and there decided that one day she would start manufacturing and selling Acquo again, something that made Bengt very happy. With his support and encouragement, she carefully researched the market.

It turned out to be a long process, finding a manufacturer that could maintain the high standard and quality Acquo previously had and would continue to have. After active searching, she found her manufacturer. Production of the boots was finally started, and she formed the company Acquo of Sweden. In May 2016, the webshop was in full swing and the orders collapsed at a rapid pace from all over the world. Acquo was born again and we see how a fantastic story can repeat itself.

About Katja of Sweden

Karin Hallberg, better known by the name Katja of Sweden, was born in 1920. She was one of Sweden’s early fashion designers and had great export success throughout the world. Karin died in January 2017 but her design and fashion are still alive in the vintage market today.

About Bengt Sjöstrand

Bengt Sjöstrand was born in 1927. He was the founder of the model and the Acquo boot in the 1970s. Bengt lived in his villa at Lidingö in Stockholm for many years. He has been a close friend with Jessica since 2010 and was very happy that she wanted to bring life back to Acquo. Bengt owned ABM AB, which since 1969 has worked with marketing and sales of raw materials and manufactured products of cellulose, plastic, rubber, metal and textiles. Bengt died in 2018 but his memory lives on, among other things in the new production of Acquo of Sweden.

This article is in Swedish only and it is from the early 80’s

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