When I set out on creating the final project for my degree at Beckman’s College of Design back in 2003, I had no idea that it would continue for such a long time and that it would be my headache for the coming 15 years.
The idea of the project was to design something that I felt was missing in the world of footwear - something so paired-down and understated that no one would have thought to design something so simple. The result was two styles of minimalist leather sneakers – a high top leather model in black and a low cut leather version in white. At the time of their launch, they were the first of their kind and have gone on to become the foundation of my label.
As always with good design and innovations, the sneakers shortly inspired other brands (not mentioning any names) and has become a staple across many fashion retailer’s catalogues during the years. However my original idea still remains and the iconic sneakers are still true to the design I created 15 years ago. The perforated leather lining is still there and no logos or labels have been added. Nevertheless, some improvements have been made and production has moved to Tuscany, Italy – a region renowned for making some of the world’s best leather shoes.
As with many creative pursuits, the journey hasn’t been simple. Finding a producer that met my standards wasn’t easy and being a self-confessed perfectionist didn’t help either. I travelled around the globe, hunting for the perfect partner to help me make my dream design a reality. After searching through countless suppliers, I finally found myself a company to work with in Vietnam. Being set on a vulcanized style in order to create my own designed sole, I knew Asia would be the place to find it - the Vietnamese are known for their amazing vulcanization skills. Later on I found my Italian supplier who I began working with and the Vietnamese partnership was put on hold - not for long though as I returned to Ho Chi Minh City to create my canvas sneakers a few years later.
One of the main ideas for my brand has always been to do things slowly. I believe in taking my time to create the best quality and refined design possible. It has always been important for me to never lose track of this philosophy. Even though I had managed to be stocked in some of the very best shops around the world, it still came as a surprise when I was approached by Comme des Garçons SHIRT for their Spring Summer 2014 collection. To collaborate with such an iconic brand was an absolute dream come true. The collaboration continued for three seasons, followed by a collaboration with high-end retailer Facetasm, still continuing to focus on the original sneaker model.
To make great products without compromising on quality or design has been my promise since day one and continues to be so today. My five core designs still act as a backbone of my brand concept: the Low Cut Leather Sneaker, the High Top Canvas Sneaker, the Low Cut Canvas Sneaker, the Vulcanized Canvas Sneaker and the Vulcanized Slip-on Sneaker.
Staying true to my original values has meant a slow growth and not compromise in order to please someone else’s ideas of what good long-lasting design should be. Many would shake their heads at the idea of a passion project lasting 15 years but for me this is exactly what it's all about. The journey has been a true pleasure and I have learnt a lot. I will continue on the same path from where it all started and hopefully this has given you a good reason of why my designs should be your new closest staple.