Working with discarded sneakers you get a variety of leathers, suedes, and synthetics to work with, which can be difficult as everything has different thicknesses and stretches.
“Working with discarded sneakers you get a variety of leathers, suedes, and synthetics to work with, which can be difficult as everything has different thicknesses and stretches. Suede also ages a lot more severely, so it can be difficult to rework, but in the end, you get a really beautiful mix of colors, aging, and textures that makes each pair completely unique to each client.”
Since your work stands out in such an ephemeral market, what can you tell about being a pioneer in this kind of upcycling leather craftsmanship?
It’s hard. Working with recycled materials always has so many challenges. Sneaker culture is driven by newness. When I first started working with this idea, back in 2015, all sneakers appeared so white and shiny on the shelf and seemed completely devoid of any essence of handmadeness. So, my work pioneering this space has always been about challenging newness, can we create something beautiful, a hype object within the sneaker world that is fabricated from discarded pieces and so obviously celebrating the nuances of the handmade.
Your unique designs tell stories, giving a new purpose to surplus and unusual ideas. What stories have impacted your creative background and what are your main visual references?
I first stumbled across the idea of using recycled sneakers as a primary material when I was studying my MA at The Royal College of Art. I wanted some old sneakers to cut up to see how they were made, but no one would give me them. I realized then that we all have a personal story connected to our sneakers, even when they are completely falling apart. This realization impacted my practice from then on. How can we cherish the marks on each pair to honor the memories it holds? This is especially true with leather, as it takes on so much character as it ages. The visual references always come from the material. If a client sends me their favorite sneakers, a pair from a special occasion, or maybe their childhood pair that no longer fits them, I use the shapes, lines, and texture to influence how the design plays out. It is a textural collage of their life in those shoes.