Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sneaker Design School, An Introduction

I got to ‘sneaker design school’ because of my love for retro style trainers. My trainer love started with a pair of blue and yellow Nike LVD’s when I was 14. After that there was no stopping the compulsion.
I had to study for two years at college before I could apply for a footwear design course at Cordwainers, London College of Fashion. I am currently the only one on my course specifically gearing their project to Sneakers.

Designing, where do you start?
A fat ass sketch book that documents EVERYTHING you have seen, found, like, don’t like and anything that may cause a spark of inspiration.
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The first two years consisted of several different projects, each lasting one term. The final year project isn’t for the faint hearted, it lasts for 9 months, so you have to eat, sleep and sh*t your chosen area of the market. The end product (sneaker) has to be fully justified in the current footwear market. 99% preparation is needed for a well executed project.

Mine starts with many adventures all over London and primarily the launch party of the 10th issue of Sneaker Freaker. If it wasn’t for that and the free goody bag(s) I got then my project may have taken a different direction. There were loads of leads in the magazine, including this site.

The focus for this project is going to be on trainers for girls. It’s clear from research that there are a lot of girls with fresh kicks that aren’t being valued in the Sneaker Market. It’s also easier to spend 9 months on something you love, than something that vaguely entertains you.

The last few weeks have been spent with my head down looking for cool kicks to photograph, interviewing as many fiends as I can find, as many store managers that will spare some time and tracking down designers already working for sports companies to get inside info.
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^A few pages of fiends from my sketchbook.
This part, talking to everyone, especially consumers is very important. The end sneaker needs to be viable for the market place.
At this stage you end up with a mad amount of cut outs from books, magazines and photos. You have to look at what’s going on in the design industry, including what competitors are doing, new technology and materials. There is a lot of cutting and sticking at this point of the project, you have to get your step on before papers get lost/misplaced.

Not all of the design process is hanging out, trainer spotting. All research has to be taken to tutorials, where I pitch my idea to my tutor and show all my sketchbook work. And my tutor is hard-core. She’s ready to play devils advocate at every corner. It’s a good insight in to Industry. Turns out you can’t just do what you feel, it’s got to be justified and who ever you’re pitching to is always ready to pick holes in it.

Then there’s shopping, shopping is- research! I have visited every sneaker hot-spot in London, looking at product range, sizing, brands etc. Of course this leads to purchase’s. This is one of the better things about being a trainer designer, no one can cuss you for your purchases, or amount of purchases, if anything you turn in to a personal shopper for family and friends. Basically it becomes ok to have your own mini-museum.


stylez loves farmer gilez said...

Wicked!!!Nice to see a girl that knows what she is talking about!!!gwaaaaaaan sneaker gal dem!!!

Latoya said...

Thanks for educating others who are not familiar with the whole design process. It's intense but after it all you and your client appreciates the work.