Proposals, feedback and reflections…

Originally my proposal was…

MA Fashion Footwear for Term 1 – October 27, 2010

Mass customization, woman, comfort, materials, processes

The proposal for term one is to go as deep into research as possible of mass customization what it means, what has been done already, where the opportunities are to make the work accessible to woman’s footwear market and what are the implications on form, visual qualities and comfort. The reason for this study is to see what opportunities are possible for a designer to control the work on a small scale production basis. Hopefully this will allow for more creative outcomes if a designer can work commercially outside the existing footwear industry hierarchy.

Qualities to explore in the work are below…

1. Woman’s lifestyle footwear including higher heals

2.    User centered focusing on space between foot – there are practical and cost issues surrounding the scanning of a customer’s foot.  Other possible ideas is to work with construction

3.    Bespoke customized approach and service – a suggestion mapped out in visual document of service for the customer

4.    Process lead – process drives form

5.    Reduction in components – Having product and furniture as a background where innovation of materials and structures give the visual references, I would like to work outside the template of existing constructions and approach the work as if we moved from an early bespoke cobble construction (i.e. Roman, Greek, American Indians) to a digital rapid manufacturing. I want to move away from cultural references as they hold less meaning for me in a global economy. Working with the primal idea of wrapping the foot with a soft bed of comfort inside

6.    Exposure of structure where this becomes the form, lines – the decoration is not representational but inherent, where the structure and material arrangements become the “decoration”. In an ideal the process will be significant in dictating the form.

7.    Breathable natural materials – leathers, wools, cork felt

8.    Vernacular materials – research into UK wool felt makers

9.    Attention to comfort both physically and visually, the footwear should have affordance. – An affordance is a quality of an object, or an environment, that allows an individual to perform an action. In this case the footwear it to seduce the lady to stepping in.

Proposal Development!

All along Heather my tutor urged me to focus my brief.  I assume she could see I was throwing everything in including the kitchen sink!  For me it is extremely difficult to focus as I always see so many issues to factor in and explore. However I understand that only by focus can a person “professionally, systematically and maybe even scientifically” explore and area and get a meaningful outcome.

Experimenting with felt…

My initial thinking was to keep the felt on the inside next to the skin to add comfort and to allow the insole to be customized under the pressure and wear of the person’s foot, kind of like a nectarine in that the stone is the foot, the veg tan leather is the skin and the soft flesh of the fruit is the felt. So I played with wrapping the felt and leather around the last.

leather wrapped around sheet felt and last

initial felt wrapped in leather 1

internal "landscape" layered felt to add comfort to the insole

cutting away veg tan to make "opanke" insolestapling felt around last as to not damage

Felt top view with centre seam

Daimer Filz shade card, one of many!

felt upper pattern

felt inner footbed pattern

stitched felt footbed

felt sock on cork

back seam felt sock

There were issues with using a felt sheet which was thin, 30% wool 70% viscose as the fibers would not bind.  I got on the case and researched into industrial sheet felt.  By using the transforming materials library at LCF and CSM under the guidance of Jess Lertvilai I came across the company Diamer Filz in Germany.  They have a wonder felt product with great colours and varied thicknesses.  I contacted them, explained what I was doing and requested a small sponsorship.  I was delighted when they responded yes! It would take a couple weeks to receive the materials.

So I kept exploring with the sheet felt focusing on the layers of the insole…

Historical research…

sryian shoe

Initially in tutorials I was advised to go back to the beginning and look at historical footwear going back to Greek and Roman times.  The reason being the need to look at how we fundamentally wrapped and protected the foot, the key points of protection, using one


piece of leather, and bespoke in a most fundamental sense!

roman sandels

early evolution moccasin


Other aspects of my research included researching into how

shoemakers fit into culture.  A cobbler in Greek times was a place where people came together , caught up on gossip and philosophized.  It was a a central place like a food market or a modern day hairdressers.

Marc Jacobs

lakota moccasins

Bespoke was more than just comfort and fit it was a place where ideas were born, debated, akin to the internet today!

early shoe north america