It’s taken me a little while to write this up but I’m now back in the UK and working on Men’s footwear again! For the past few weeks I’ve been settling in and getting my teeth into a fantastic role on the Sales/Product Development side of things which involves lots of factory-chasing, design development with our in-house Designer and face-to-face customer contact.
As part of this, one of my first tasks was to attend the AW14 Press Day of one of our biggest customers, Primark. Their collection for AW14 was inspired by a magical journey around Ireland, (birthplace of the Primark chain), and called “Adventure Awaits.”
On womenswear, there was a wonderful palette of wintery, pastel hues, metallic fabrics, thick chunky soles and bold, statement jewellery. On men’s the feeling was a mixture of sport, heritage and the great outdoors ranging from formal brogue footwear, to casual desert boots and sporty, running trainers.
Here are some snaps from the event, including a few rather delicious foodie-shots! (I blame my sweet tooth…!)
A. When she’s designing gloves!
That’s right, this week I have been asked to sketch a couple of ski gloves and a football goalie glove for a company not too far away, in Bolzano. It was quite a nice challenge that prompted me to ask myself, if I can design shoes, what else can I design? And can a designer interchange easily between one field and another? I think they can. If you can understand the design process, you can then apply your knowledge of trends, timescales, dealing with factories and liaising with clients to so many different products. If you are capable of designing, I think you can design almost anything; you just need to study the construction of something to understand the technical aspects that will be a fundamental part of that design.
Anyway, I’ve decided to post my first attempts at technical gloves. Obviously, my knowledge of the technical construction is pretty limited but aesthetically I am pleased with the outcomes. See what you think!
Designers and Creatives are often stereotyped as being secretive about their work but, often, I think it’s a protective response to past criticisms; self-preservation, of which I at times have also been guilty.
When you work in a creative field, people are very quick to tell you when they don’t like something but rarely have the ability to accompany this ‘feedback’ with anything constructive. It’s easy to say that something doesn’t work or you don’t like it but when you have to rationalise these thoughts and specify why, it’s more difficult.
One of the hardest things to accept about designing is that it’s so subjective: what pleases one person, won’t please another and more to the point, ‘you can’t please everyone, all of the time.’ As a designer, it’s important to grow a thick skin right from the beginning because there will always be those who criticise your work. That’s not to say that there aren’t positive reactions too however – there is no better feeling than hearing what a success your design has been and how well the shoe has sold – but every time you present a design, you are opening yourself up to criticism and sometimes it can be really intimidating.
Having said all of this, I love looking through the sketchbooks of other designers; not to copy or steal ideas of course, but just for the pure curiosity of seeing how another creative mind works. It’s really interesting to see how other people develop their thoughts into designs and to understand what inspires them.
In light of this, I’ve decided to publish a few extracts from my sketchbook! No elaborately-worked paintings or finished samples here – just literally the first marks of a pencil and drafts of an idea. Obviously, I hope you will enjoy looking at them but then again if you don’t, I can take your criticism, just make sure it’s constructive! 😉
As I often get asked this question, (and the standard response is pretty much always “everywhere”), I decided to share a couple of designs that I finished last week, inspired by a table!
Sometimes ideas come out of nowhere; a piece of furniture, the colours on a magazine page, the pattern on a man-hole cover; but what’s also interesting is where they go afterwards. The ‘design-development’ can begin on one path, inspired by an idea that then evolves and takes a completely different direction and that’s what’s so exciting about the creative process! Even unused designs are rarely thrown away, but often re-worked, developed in more detail or simply saved for the right moment, revived thanks to newly-found inspiration.
The most important part of designing is to keep feeding the creativity – be it from exhibitions, magazines, the internet, a poster, a cigarette packet, a car wheel….. you never know where the next great idea may come from!
Another theme emerging in AW14 is influenced by Fim Noir and 1940s Hollywood. In honour of this, I’ve created a new mood board and a few women’s shoe designs…
It’s been a while since I posted some new designs so I thought it was time for some new drawings. These pick up where my last post left off – the 1950s – but with a modern twist. The AW13 catwalks hinted at this trend thanks to 50s-inspired designs from, amongst others, Miu Miu, Prada and Rochas.
My love for this decade won’t wain and discovering that there is a definite 50s flavour for AW14 has inspired me to put together a little mood board. To get me in the mood, I also listened to some fantastic rockabilly covers by our amazingly-talented friends Billy and the Crazy Dogs (who you can see below and check out on Facebook here)!
Other decades trending for womenswear next season are the 1960s (esp. houndstooth), 1970s (psychedelic prints and boho references) and the 1940s for its’ Hollywood glamour. Watch this space for some 50s designs coming soon!
This week I have been all over the internet researching shoe manufacturers and bespoke shoemakers and came across an inspirational video of women’s shoe designer, Chie Mihara. Chie was born in Brasil to Japanese parents. She studied fashion in New York, specialising in footwear and bags, before moving to Spain and eventually starting her own label, Chie Mihara. I have always loved her designs, that are not only beautiful and original, but also made with comfort in mind. This video shows that, not only is she good at was she does, she is also passionate about designing shoes and I am full of admiration!
Take a look and maybe it will inspire you too…
Yes! Our love for the 1950s continues, having gained ground in recent seasons thanks to shows like Mad Men and Prada’s S/S13 rockabilly and cadillac-inspired collection.
Other key influencers include Rochas, Unique, Ports 1961 and Roksanda Illincic. It seems that for Autumn/Winter there will also be a 1940s ‘siren’ flavour but in the meantime, I couldn’t resist posting this article I found in October’s Gioia magazine….
As part of my trend research, I always look forward to a visit to Lineapelle, the international leather trade show held twice a year in Bologna. I made my first trip to the fair back in 2002 with a bunch of friends when we were studying footwear at uni, but I have returned many times since. Being able to look at and feel all the leather samples can be a real source of inspiration and this year I had the added bonus if meeting up with our friends from ‘L’Arlecchino’, who I wrote about in the Summer. I’ve got half an idea to start making my own bits and bobs from leather ad they were full of tips and advice as to how I can get started. Thanks Giorgio and Lella – it’s always a pleasure to chat with you two!!
Anyway, as part of my full, leather-immersion, I also scoured the A/W 2014 trend area and here are some of my observations for Winter next year…
- Use of neoprene & neoprene meshes.
- Baroque designs and flocking patterns used on suede.
- Lots of laser-cut patterns to create delicate, lace-like leathers.
- Metallic finishes but kept quite matte – coppers, golds and silvers…
- Quilted patterns created with stitching
- Geometric shapes and patterns – printed, embossed, stitched, moulded into leathers and fabrics.
- Embellishments on leathers like studs and jewels. Mixes of studs with laser-cutting.
- Wooly tweeds, houndstooth and heavy weaves for Winter; blanket checks and tartans.
- Felted wool – some with metallic finishes.
- Snake and croc skins, fur and sheepskins.
- Chocolate browns and neutrals, taupe
- Deep reds, bright reds and pinks
- Teals, dark blues and dark greens
Next step? to get some more designs on the go…!