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Thread: Geoffrey B. Small

  1. #201

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    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.

    Best wishes,

    Geoffrey

  2. #202
    kitsch killer Faust's Avatar
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    Well, Geoffrey, I think that you just advertised the intern position :-) I don't mind - it would be wonderful if you could get someone from SZ.

    As far as the copyright - I know a lot about it - I teach a lecture on copyright in fashion. I have to say that I disagree with your position. One day I hope we can talk about it in great detail. Of course we are looking at this issue from very different points of view, and I completely understand yours.
    Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months - Oscar Wilde

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  3. #203

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    Dear Faust, thanks and sorry. I would be most interested in hearing your views on copyright issues and look very much forward to a chance to discuss further, especially if you view things more positively than I do in regards to possible protection rights and options for creativity in the field for smaller designers and companies. With gratitude and Best wishes, Geoffrey

  4. #204

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffrey B. Small View Post
    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.
    Geoffrey
    Geoffrey,
    certainly it would be a pleasure to meet you too, I will make it possible one day in the near future,

    Also, while I am an advanced level designer, It isnt beyond my humility to look into the "interning position", you offered.
    I've never been to Europe before and Italy with all its first rate resources has always fascinated me
    we will talk more about it and see what is possible,

    Until then, Blessings and much love,

    ZB
    Last edited by zamb; 11-15-2009 at 03:14 PM.
    “You know,” he says, with a resilient smile, “it is a hard world for poets.”
    .................................................. .......................


    Zam Barrett Spring 2017 Now in stock

  5. #205

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    The intern position sounds very interesting! Too bad I've been only taking school for a couple months now and I am in no way ready, or I would have definitely applied.

    I agree that getting someone from SZ would be an excellent idea, we are all absolutely insane about our clothing.

  6. #206

    Default PM's

    Ok, I just discovered how to access/use the personal message system here. Please feel free to send me a PM concerning anything regarding the above.

    My apologies to anyone who has previously sent me a PM and never got any answer. I have just sent out answers to all the PM's that were in the mailbox.

    Thanks, Geoffrey

  7. #207

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    I'm totally skipping the discussion, even though I quite enjoyed reading it, to say I'd totally wear the low tops in all-white (white version of the black low-tops). Yes it has a MMM artisanal vibe but he's not the only designer who got into recycled materials awhile ago so it does not bother me. I really don't see why it would not go well with GBS relaxed pants, a tee and some GBS jacket BTW. He's not making 19th century repros...
    WTB Ann Demeulemeester X Elvis Pompilio hat
    http://www.stylezeitgeist.com/forums...038#post482038

  8. #208

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    Quote Originally Posted by Faust View Post
    Well, Geoffrey, I think that you just advertised the intern position :-) I don't mind - it would be wonderful if you could get someone from SZ.

    As far as the copyright - I know a lot about it - I teach a lecture on copyright in fashion. I have to say that I disagree with your position. One day I hope we can talk about it in great detail. Of course we are looking at this issue from very different points of view, and I completely understand yours.
    About the artist as a DJ:
    http://www.amazon.com/Postproduction...8480604&sr=8-2
    WTB Ann Demeulemeester X Elvis Pompilio hat
    http://www.stylezeitgeist.com/forums...038#post482038

  9. #209

    Default white sneakers

    In fact Fuuma, while I was up last weekend at Pollyanna, I actually received a special request by one of their clients to make an all white version of the low model, just as you mentioned, which we will be making for him. He is a collector, and we will be researching very seriously for the right leather to execute the piece and ensure that it is very rare and very special. If the client allows, will try to post a photo when done. Nice to hear from you by the way and hope you are well...Best wishes, Geoffrey

    ps. interesting tip on the book, the author is one of the co-founders of the Palais de Tokyo, right?

  10. #210

  11. #211

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffrey B. Small View Post
    In fact Fuuma, while I was up last weekend at Pollyanna, I actually received a special request by one of their clients to make an all white version of the low model, just as you mentioned, which we will be making for him. He is a collector, and we will be researching very seriously for the right leather to execute the piece and ensure that it is very rare and very special. If the client allows, will try to post a photo when done. Nice to hear from you by the way and hope you are well...Best wishes, Geoffrey

    ps. interesting tip on the book, the author is one of the co-founders of the Palais de Tokyo, right?
    Yes, he's the relational aesthetics guy. I wanted to provide a counterpoint so we can explore "the creator as a DJ" as a valid artistic approach. This is of course very different from merely "stealing" ideas you think will sell to deliver a mishmash of incoherent garbage but let's not throw away the baby with the bathwater...

    Looking forward to pictures of the white shoes. Finding the right white leather must have been quite arduous, vintage pieces in that colour are few and far between.
    WTB Ann Demeulemeester X Elvis Pompilio hat
    http://www.stylezeitgeist.com/forums...038#post482038

  12. #212

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    On the subject of plagiarism, Mr Fuuma, I can't believe that you're still using my speed dating joke and not giving me props!!!

    Geoffrey will stop talking to you!
    "I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying." — Oscar Wilde

  13. #213

    Default On DJ's and Art

    Yes, Fuuma, you are absolutely right. I totally agree with you.

    In fact, I am as guilty as anyone at playing the fashion DJ--the main body of our recycling work during the 90's involved a pioneering and intense exploration into finding, selecting, cutting and metamorphisizing existing garments into entirely new forms, combinations and uses; and forming entire collections based upon thematic concepts and messages about greed, violence, speed, the hypocrisy of the fashion industry we were working in, and many other contemporary subjects (ref. "Typical American", "Neo-Lux","Take your glamour and shove it", "Racer Futur", "Homme Bleu'',"American Casual Style","College", "Skag Boys", "Neo-Country", "Revolution", and "Invisible")...all using pieces of clothing that originally had been made by somebody else before us and were no longer needed. Without knowing it, we were actually paralleling Robert Rauschenberg's final main body of work that was being developed during the very same period, eventually called "Gluts" which was just shown for the first time this year at Peggy Guggenheim in Venice during the Biennale, with new forms created from recycled detritus along a similar message. No doubt, this kind of thing was in the air at that time among alert minds and circles. It was new. And it was very exciting.

    But I must caution that later it became much more mainstream and more and more people starting trying to to do the same thing, but for different reasons and very much on a different level. Perhaps there can be a saturation point or maturity level that is reached, that then requires new technique or ideas.

    I think that is what Take Hirakawa was getting at with his point about designers which he made to me in 2005 on a visit to his house in Japan. And Take knew our work very well. Over a decade earlier, he was the first journalist in Japan to discover our new recycled collection in Paris in 1993 and wrote the very first Japanese article about it in the Senken Shimbun. He is also the only journalist in the world to have done a face to face extensive interview with both Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yammamoto for print publication. So his comments contained a point of view that spanned several decades of serious design observation. As an analogy, maybe we can look at Philip Glass, Brian Eno and the early pioneer DJ's in the 80's who were creating a genre, then perhaps Underworld, Orb, Prodigy and others in the 90's who took it further. But today I think we can all agree that there are many who wear a label that says DJ, yet very few who are actually rearranging and reforming existing sound(s) in a new, intriguing and beautiful way that otherwise would never have been realized without his or her unique contribution (this is your baby in the bathwater). A "DJ", and what it stands for, by definition, has changed over time.

    In our case, we also had over fifteen years of hands-on bespoke tailoring experience before we ever cut into our first recycle piece, and Rauschenberg had a lifetime of achievement in contemporary art under his belt before starting on Gluts. A question of technical and thorough grounding in classical foundations as a necessary prerequisite, may need to be asked as being a critical factor for the remixing artistic approach. I don't know...and I certainly would not want to limit the playing field and lose the baby, if you will. But in our case, the previous 15 years of classical tailoring experience was fundamental in our being able to continuously push the horizons of recycle design further and further ahead.... while many others viewed it as an easy way to enter the designer and fashion game, but eventually found out that over the long term, it wasn't so easy after all, and much more in the end was needed.

    On that note, we have in fact, not yet found the exact white leather we want to work with on the special sneaker, and indeed, it is a true challenge that will test all or our resources, skills and experience. But that is the kind of thing that makes it fun and exciting to be still going at it, and going for it, after so many years...

    These are some quick thoughts that your post has raised, Fuuma. Thanks.

    Best wishes, Geoffrey

  14. #214

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    Yo "the motivation " film was eye opening to say the least. We are in trouble , period.......I loved the sneakers the minute I saw them, wish I could afford a pair.

    Geoffrey, it is a real joy and inspiration to have you here sharing your creations, insights and motivations with us. I don't know many designers that are as passionate and eloquent about what they do and why.

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU!

    Clay
    Last edited by clay; 11-18-2009 at 08:52 PM. Reason: sp

  15. #215

    Default Thank you Clay

    Dear Clay,

    No, it is I who must thank you.

    Thank you very much for
    viewing "Home" (above post #207),
    and your kind and inspiring comments,
    things like that
    are what keep me going
    even on the darkest days.

    Yes, we are in trouble. Indeed.
    But in the words of the late Mother Theresa:


    "I cannot do what you do."

    "You cannot do what I do."

    "But together, we can do something beautiful."


    And if we want to,
    a new generation in fashion
    can begin to change the world now,
    this time for the better.


    Thank you again Clay,
    and best wishes,
    Geoffrey

  16. #216

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffrey B. Small View Post
    Dear Clay,

    No, it is I who must thank you.

    Thank you very much for
    viewing "Home" (above post #207),
    and your kind and inspiring comments,
    things like that
    are what keep me going
    even on the darkest days.

    Yes, we are in trouble. Indeed.
    But in the words of the late Mother Theresa:


    "I cannot do what you do."

    "You cannot do what I do."

    "But together, we can do something beautiful."


    And if we want to,
    a new generation in fashion
    can begin to change the world now,
    this time for the better.


    Thank you again Clay,
    and best wishes,
    Geoffrey

    Much respect! I look forward to more of your posts.

  17. #217

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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffrey B. Small View Post
    These are some quick thoughts that your post has raised, Fuuma. Thanks.

    Best wishes, Geoffrey
    Very interesting.

    I definitely like the analogy you bring, and through this analogy, it becomes apparent that there's a need for both innovation in the sounds (concept) and the mixing (technique).

    Also, I don't like this idea that a designer needs to have a single vision or aesthetic within his work. Why can't people just play with concepts within their own cohesive vision?

    I don't wear sneakers often, but I definitely see the appeal of the sneaker. It's what everyone buying into Common Projects and Spring Courts are trying to get at but on an even further level.

  18. #218

    Default sneaker soles update and Japan tour visits

    Dear SZ'ers,

    1. Hope everyone in the US and Japan has had a very nice Thanksgiving.

    2. A quick note to update you that Giuseppe has gotten back to me after rechecking with suppliers to confirm that the sneaker soles are all rubber and biodegradable.

    3. I will be making some short personal visits to stores in Japan in the next week and cordially invite SZ'ers to contact the stores and see if we can hook up, even for a quick chat and a chance to see and talk about clothes in person. If you live in Japan and own any of our pieces, I would be even more interested in meeting you and hearing from you while I am there. Schedule is tight and heavy, please note this is a provisional calendar and subject to change, please contact the stores directly or try to PM me for more up to date info. Will try to post any new changes as well depending on jetlag and online access:

    28 November: John Bull private labo Harajuku
    29 November: Minority Rev in Fukuoka
    1 December: Plagueseach in Hiroshima
    2 December: John Bull private labo Okayama
    3 December: Ageha Kobe, John Bull private labo Osaka Shinsaibashi or Umeda, Journal Standard Osaka Umeda, John Bull private labo Kyoto, Journal Standard Kyoto (pending),
    4 December: Okura in Daikanyama Tokyo, Al Kichijoji Tokyo
    5-6 December: Journal Standard stores in Tokyo (Shibuya/Shinjuku/Omotesando)

    Again, all tentative please contact the stores first.
    Hope to see some of you in Japan.

    Best wishes,
    Geoffrey B. Small

  19. #219

    Default Thanks to all our friends in Japan

    Hello SZ'ers,

    Am now back from my Japan tour. It was great to see some of you and thanks so much to all the staff people, managers and customers at Okura, AL, Minority-Rev, Plaguesearch, Ageha, John Bull private labo/musee, and Journal Standard Lady's stores all over Japan for your kindness and hospitality during my visits. It was great to see you all and talk about design, clothes and lots of other things too.

    I am now working on a special series on fabric and design, and will post up soon here on SZ.

    Happy Holidays to everyone.

    Best wishes, Geoffrey

  20. #220

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    looking forward to seeing the series.

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