A few quick notes to some of the previous posts:
Thanks Zamb, hope to meet you someday in person and talk shop on tailoring and alterations, will be a true blast for sure.
Eternal, your thoughts and questions are very good ones. The sole we are talking about is basically derivative of the original 1916-1917 ones done by Converse and Keds. They have now become generic and are in use by hundreds of makers and brands including the ones you mentioned in your first post (Common projects etc.). Various versions are also available to us in small quantities as a result. Normally the cost of developing molds and producing a completely in-house designed sole runs in the thousands to tens of thousands of euros. This high fixed setup cost is prohibitive for what we wanted to achieve in regards to hyper limited quantity to go in sync with our handmade recycled leather upper construction strategy.
This is one of the reasons that Maurizio went in the direction of leather soles when creating the original Carpe Diem footwear concepts in the mid-90's that has since spawned all of the others frequently cited on SZ. One of the advantages of leather soles is that they can be easily geared to one-off and short run production methods, and so for those who have previously written in favor of leather soles, I understand and agree with your points, and will try to post later on some of our leather sole work we are doing.
However, our job is to do what nobody else has done or is doing already, and it was precisely the fact that we wanted to do something really artisanal that was not in the leather sole arena that pushed us and motivated us in this direction. Nobody has ever done a handmade sneaker program like ours, with all its personal and customization qualities, and we needed a basic sole that would be available in very small quantities over time to match our slow and very limited hand construction methods and capacity.
In fact, we presented another sole form in Paris this season that was very cool and significantly less basic and ran into 2 problems: one was that the supplier would have to make them only for us (too risky for any other shoe designer or lines in the industry at the moment ) and wanted a minimum order of 500-1000 pairs per color andper size to cover the costs of making all the new molds and then injection molding the pieces. Let me tell you, that's a lot shoes for one season. If we ran white and black in sizes from 36-45 Italian, we would have to buy 5000-10000 pairs of soles up front, cash on delivery. All of our money would be sunk in soles and we would have to redesign everything else to accommodate a volume level and distribution way beyond our vision of what we wanted to do. And then the second problem was that the buyers were afraid to buy them and stock them...too different and too risky for their point of view--especially for a first time introduction from a designer more known for his handmade clothes than his shoes so far.
These are the working realities behind the scenes that many of you do not see, but that are fundamental in what designs actually make it to the market and are available to the public. As a real 100% self-financed independent designer, I must be disciplined with these realities and proceed carefully and intelligently step-by-step with the long-term view clearly in my mind. By doing so, someday we will (God-willing) find a way to make all of our key shoe components including rubber sneaker soles in-house and totally different--the same way we have accomplished such levels of design control in our clothes. Rome was not built in a day. And these sneakers are only one achievement in a long journey. But they are a beautiful classic of recycle design and I am very proud of the work Giuseppe, our small circle of associates here and at Pollyanna, and I, did to get them where they are today.
The generic aspect of the soles for me does not represent copying in the manner I have referred to many times in previous posts, where a distinctly new and different design is introduced by an independent designer and then directly copied and exploited to larger markets by other companies who give no credit or remuneration for the use of the design or R&D costs incurred to achieve the original design they are profiting from. I believe we have done something new both in design and application with our sneakers and they have their place and raison d'etre of their own. Perhaps other analogies can be considered as well for example when I or any other current designer come out with a polo collared knit shirt- are we copying Rene Lacoste who invented the genre in the 1920's? If we do a 5-pocket jean of any type with rivets made out of cotton or denim-- are we copying Levi Strauss who invented the concept in the 1880's? If we design a cardigan sweater or raglan sleeve- are we copying the original versions attributed to the officers James Brudenell 7th Earl of Cardigan and the 1st Baron Raglan who both were credited with the concepts from their fame in the Charge of the Light Brigade of the Crimean War and the Battle of Waterloo, respectively?
Faust, these issues also very much relate to the Authorship thread which I have wanted to comment on but haven't had the time yet to do so. Indeed, you will have a very hard time copyrighting your pants. This is a fundamental problem in our metier, that I have wanted to raise for over a decade. Apart from some very minor and localized cases (mainly France), there is no copyright protection for any garment designs that is feasibly available or executable in international intellectual Property law. While someone can write a book, record or write a piece of music, draw paint or sculpt a work of Art, make a film or video, write a piece of software or game, and then copyright it and have legal worldwide protection rights to the intellectual property he/she has created; someone who comes up with an original garment design cannot. This is one of the great examples of worldwide legal discrimination against artists who work in fashion design. Legally, we are not viewed as artists. And fashion is not viewed as an Art that merits the same basic copyright protections as other fields mentioned.
The ramifications have been major, copying is a given reality that the artist who creates true originals must simply shut up and deal with. The potential financial lost revenues for many of us as a result total in the billions, and many if not most, sooner or later, die out ironically for lack of funds, especially in the last 5-6 years with the rise of the fast fashion giants.
It is easier, cheaper and smarter business to steal a new design than invent one yourself. What is legally protectable is trademarks and logos. Hence, the emphasis in fashion on the name and the branding. A Dolce and Gabbana can latch on to a Napoleonic themed collection clearly invented by someone else seasons ahead of them, put their label on it and sell upwards of 100 million euros of it in one season without a problem. But if the same designer victim were to dare put a Dolce and Gabbana label on his own original work, he would be sued to the rafters and burned at the stake financially and legally. In more ways than one, the name of the game my friends...is name.
And this leads to the vicious spiral we have today of less and less real creation, and more and more of the same under the guise of marketed brands--as the great Japanese fashion critic Take Hirakawa coined the term "most of today's designers are now just fashion DJ's."
Uh yeah, no wonder, for those who want to tread new ground in design, the perils are many and the rewards and protection few. Only the few maniacs with the passion and the ability survive on the thread of independence and defy the industrial fashion system can continue to try.
Please think about this when you are shopping my friends, real working designers are like the fish you eat for dinner: almost on the verge of extinction now...ruthlessly overfished by global industry... with no time, support or place to reproduce and replenish their numbers and maintain critical mass to carry forward into the future. It is a fact, we are indeed, a dying breed.
And on that note, I have just received a call from one of my brightest young interns who has just been hired away to become a photo stylist for a big Milan Ad agency (of all things), and I am heartbroken at the moment and may have an opening for a new training position here. I know I do not have the 100 SZ posts to be able to do a classified, but is there a way to communicate a help wanted notice somehow? Please advise.
Last and not least, to Asho and Hobo, please accept my apologies. But I believe the truth matters here. I am informed by Giuseppe last night that I may have spoken too soon and need to wait to confirm that the soles on the sneakers are 100 percent biodegradable as is, on the current prototypes and small batches we are producing this month. The soles we are using now are definitely 100 percent recyclable in a process that chops them up and melts them down into liquid raw material that can be made into something else in the future, but this would not comply with being biodegradable in a landfill, and they need to be separated from the uppers at the time of decommissioning them for use. Giuseppe is conducting inquiry into full biodegradibility with supplier of the soles and if they are not so, we will work at it as necessary and try to find a solution that is. Please understand we are at the new frontiers of the research for this kind of idea and this kind of sustainable production volume scaling. Your kind understanding and patience is greatly appreciated.
Thanks as always to everyone for reading, and allowing me to
continue to participate in this wonderful and exciting design forum.