When talking about designing shoes, I commonly hear the expression, “Everything under the sun has been done.” And while I generally tend to agree with it (on a grand scale), I still believe that there are little tweaks that can be done to a shoe, here and there, that will minutely (and yet immensely) separate it from all of the rest. For instance, the shoe above which is another one of my prototypes, has a penny strap that extends all the way back to the heel. This was something that I had never seen before, yet had always wondered what it might look like, being that I like to use multiple materials in my shoes. I wanted to be able to mix it up somehow, having the strap be a different material than the rest of the shoe. At first, I wanted to hold this close to my chest, as it was a unique design and did not want anyone ripping me off before I could release my line, but as I have been blabbing for 2 years now about getting this line off of the ground, and doing so has been slower than I had anticipated, I couldn’t help but show this to all of you to let you know that things are truly still in the motions…..slowly but surely!
Clearly I am not the only one that has done a unique design. Almost every maker does one in some way or another whether it is with a row of stitching and how it is positioned, the colors and/or materials that they may use, or how one might change the aesthetics of one of the pieces of the pattern (cap/quarter/vamp etc.). You will find it in the subtle details that will define that makers style. Sometimes these things can be hard to spot, sometimes they are quite obvious. Nevertheless, they are always nice for me (so long as it’s not overbearingly ostentatious) as it then represents a new way to do a shoe…. I remember back in 2006, the first time that I ever saw a Gaziano & Girling shoe, in Robb Report magazine. I can’t say for sure, but I think it was either the Gable or the Regent, and it was the first time that I had ever seen that pointed (^-shaped) toe cap. Back then, I wasn’t so knowledgeable about shoes, as it was really the beginning point for me in the fine footwear industry, so you can imagine how blown away I was to see something so unique when all I had previously known was the Allen Edmonds Park Avenue, as it was the end-all-be-all shoe in America. And even though I can’t pinpoint the exact model that it was, the moment was still so vivid for me, as it represented the day that I truly chose to go after my dreams, telling myself that I wanted to emulate G&G by making good quality shoes that stood out from the rest (in terms of design).
Along with dress boots being something that I predict will be big in the next year or two, I also predict that you will see more and more makers trying their hardest to come out with designs that separate themselves from the rest. Clearly this is obvious, because you could not just come out with a line doing shoes that simply look like everyone else’s (and be successful) but more in the way that designers/makers, I feel, will more and more try and give little twists to existing classics. Classics are classics for a reason but that does not mean that they are already perfected….little minute details could make a classic better than it already is…of course, this will always be in the humble opinion of the eye of the beholder. But nevertheless, for me, it is always extremely fascinating to see how a designer interprets a shoe with his unique design. That my friends is (to me) the most interesting thing about the shoe industry….seeing how interpretations differ. Hence the reason why each country has their own individual look when it comes to their shoes!