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Thread: Geoffrey B. Small

  1. #161


    I didn't read breaks post as condecending in any way. He/she was simply implying that GBS does not only make dressy garments.

  2. #162


    I certainly didn't mean to take a jab at Mr. Small. Perhaps I worded my post badly? Here's a lengthier explanation of the point I was trying to make:

    It would seem (based on what I have seen on Yoox) that at least at one point in his career, GBS designed clothing whose aesthetics are in line with sneakers in general and also these kind of "streetwear-ish" sneakers in particular.

    Although it would also seem (based on what I have seen in this thread, the Pollyanna thread & website etc.) that he has since moved on to other things, the sneakers are not entirely out of touch with his past work.
    Suede is too Gucci.

  3. #163


    Fear the wrath
    of the axe man
    watch what you say,
    he's in action
    loose a leg, your fingers
    or a whole hand
    be warned
    you'll get chopped to oblivion

    no mercy for you
    if you are tactless
    the axe to your heart
    will aim for your chest

    if you want to live
    please try your best
    behave yourself wisely
    and dont disrespect...............

    I like the concept behind the sneakers, it would be interesting to see GBS use this concept on footwear that isnt sneakers,
    I also like the sneakers somewhat, but I am sure they will be pricey, so the question would be, do I want this kind of sneakers at the price they will be...............
    “You know,” he says, with a resilient smile, “it is a hard world for poets.”
    .................................................. .......................

    Zam Barrett Spring 2017 Now in stock

  4. #164


    Woah, I really didn't see malice in The Breaks's post.
    Hobo: We all dress up. We all put on our armour before we walk out the door, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re trying to be someone else.

  5. #165


    We sure do have some poets in our midst. Back on topic.

    As far as sneakers go, the product/design will be overshadowed by its pricetag. While I sympathise with the concept and the effort, I cant fathom why an item that will eventually stink after use is put through such an arduous process.

    Especially the all black with the white laces.- If I didnt know they were GBS, i would have mistaken them for MMM replica.(artisanal). One cannot argue with me on that.

    Perhaps they fit amazing and are extremely comfortable.

    G- I like your cashmere coats- i guess im not your sneaker customer.

  6. #166

    Default Pollyanna's new shoes (part 1/3)

    I am really busy right now, but if I may be allowed a little clarification here, the new sneakers being discussed and introduced with Pollyanna are not our first shoe endeavors, in any sense of the word. We have been developing a variety of special concept hand made shoes in our Paris collections and Private client services for years.

    They are however, the very first basic sneakers of this type in the world to ever be made using 100 percent recycled vintage leathers. Recycled leather enables me to avoid killing animals to make the shoes, reduces landfill waste problems, and eliminates methane emissions from cows which are 22 times more damaging to global warming than carbon emissions. All of the materials including the full calfskin linings, leather uppers and 100 percent natural rubber sole are biodegradable. The total transport distance in the creation and production cycle of the shoe is about 100km as all the work was done locally between San Zenone and Cavarzere. The labor used (myself and Giuseppe) is modestly but adequately paid and helps to support 2 legal tax-paying designer craftsmen and their families with kids in northern Italy.

    In contrast, the typical sneaker or trainer that you buy today with or without a designer name on it is made out of plastics and synthetic poly fabrics and petrochemical materials which end up in landfills and take about 1000 years to degrade during which time they alter water drainage patterns, destroying precious topsoil and trapping still water which greatly increases mosquito larvae and the growing new worldwide epidemic of deadly new strains of malaria. The global mass manufacturing system that produces them involves an average of 16000 km (10,000 miles) of transport by boat, train, truck and air with a massive corresponding carbon emission footprint on each shoe. And the average wage paid to people in the biggest manufacturing country for brand-name sneakers (Vietnam) is 58 dollars a month. And no, it is not enough for them and their families to live on. In fact, when they try to go on strike, the soldiers are called in to shut them up. When you buy these kind of shoes, you are essentially financing and supporting all of these actions and their repercussions whether you like it or not.

    I apologize to those who may think that they have seen the actual product in the previous photos and believe that they are "overblown." They are not overblown, and like everything I design, make and put my name on--you cannot say you have "seen the actual product" until you have really seen the actual product in person, touched it, tried it on, learned something about what it actually is, and been in it for enough time to experience the difference.

    They are beautiful, believe me. And they are the most unique and advanced sneaker/trainer concept in the world today.

    I am also "lol" at all the "experts" out there who claim to 'know' so much about my work and me, and whether something will go with "all the other GBS stuff" or not. Since 1993, I have presented over 60 Paris collections comprising well over 4,600 different men's and women's designs at the forefront of the world avant-garde circuit where one must constantly change to remain valid season after season--believe me it's the world's most competitive designer arena and not many have stayed in as long as me. I started in the same store in LA as Rick Owens, showed my first Paris collection in the same tents in Paris as Maurizio Altieri, showed my first collection in Milan with the same agent as Carol Christian Poell, and knocked it out on the streets of Japan with Undercover and Number Nine for over a decade. Unless you are one of my long-time staff members or really, really special and devoted clients, there is no way in h_ll you would have seen even 1-2 percent of the total body of design work we have done at the world level. The massive filtering process and hypocrisy by media and retailers, and the fact that since the late 90's we have shut down as much image releasing as possible of our work online on public sites due to industrial copying risks simply make it impossible for you to know the collections in any substantial or adequate manner. And it is just B.S. to try and say so.

    The shoes totally go with what we do and are about. Some of you should know that our recycling history goes back 16 years. We also pioneered the designer street fashion movement at the Paris designer level. We were the first in Paris to send out guys in their trainers in a Paris fashion show in 1994, and throughout the mid to late 90's we set the pace for this entire genre, at one point being named the number one designer for young men in Japan (the no. 1 street fashion market in the world) by a major magazine there. Roberta Valentini told me herself in Paris before its opening that the now very famous Boys Loft store by Penelope in Brescia, Italy was created in 1996 based around our leading direction in the designer street fashion movement at that time. An entire magazine "Sport and Street" was created and its first issues were plastered with pics and coverage of our Paris shows. And suddenly, every designer collection was being shown with cool sneakers. We predated the Jil Sander Puma deal by no less than 4 seasons, then all the subsequent Puma and Adidas deals such as Neil Barrett, Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney ad infinitum.

    So for those of you who don't agree as to why I am doing some sneakers, I must cordially and kindly disagree with you. I have every right in the world to do sneakers for GBS stuff. It's in the blood. In more ways than one, we invented the entire look and concept of wearing sneakers with handmade clothes. And as matter of fact, it really is in the blood--my great great grandfather co-founded the U.S. Shoe Corporation in the early 1900's, among their key products in those days was a radical new concept called Keds that turned out to become an enormous success. If nothing else, might some of you armchair designer quarterbacks out there please allow me the humble liberty to pay some homage to my great grandfather Connie McFarland?

    And you definitely don't know me...I wear sneakers all the time. And I prefer them to constructed leather-soled shoes. Sorry, I am an older guy, and I like to be comfortable and think that maybe I can still jump and run around a little bit and feed my fantasies. But I am still very picky about what I wear on my feet and hate looking like anyone else in all those dumb big corporation trainers. I need something special, comfortable, beautifully made, and exclusively mine...

    Thus the idea for these shoes was simply that I wanted to create the best pair of basic simple sneakers that I could live with in own my life, and my own conscious. Again, I have worn sneakers all my life but lately have been getting more and more turned off by the reports about all the big brands and their questionable, to say the least, approaches to quality, ethical treatment of animals (including humans), and environmental and sustainability track-records. So, this is about sneakers that would be good enough for me in environmentally and ethically sustainable quality, workmanship, comfort and style--in the sense that they have to be just like a plain old pair of old fashioned Keds or Converses (yes Chinorlz that was exactly the design objective of these pieces), not fashion: not Rick's Trainers, Ludwig Reiter, Y3, Bikkembergs, or special edition Nike-Adidas-Puma etc...(note: I too am a collector..for example, I have a pair of the original Yohji Adidas that cost over 700 euros that were awesome (nothing like Y3), and a special pair of 2004 Loveless/Green hightops and 2005 Undercover mens sneakers all bought in Japan, and loved them and wore them all to death--but that is not what these pieces are about).

    And together with my friend Giuseppe's incredible work and 30 years of know-how, we did it. Super green, super sustainable, and super ethical. One of the best sneakers in the world that I have ever seen for its timing, and most exclusive. Highly collectable too. Especially once you've got them on. They require a ton of work all by hand to execute and are made by the one person with whom I have been making handmade concept shoes for years who I have the utmost respect for, and can state is one of the most unique working masters in his field in the world. "Overblown" is a little insulting Jamesd...I beg you to make a pair even one tenth as beautiful as these with your two hands.

    Visually the idea is a basic. We are not trying to reinvent the wheel with exterior styling. The technique, workmanship and materials are what needed to be featured. And the recycled element gives each shoe a one-of-a-kind combination of color material and detailing in the leathers and adds another industry-first in our extensive recycling design history. So, the concept was to provide 2 simple basic models that can act as a minimalist basic framework for these features. We developed other models that were presented in Paris which are far more aesthetically radical and different, but this is not what was felt right for Pollyanna's introduction project, and after the reaction of the people who really did see the actual product on Sunday and bought or ordered their own customized pairs on the spot, and are continuing to do so today, they were right.

    Here below a few more views shot in our workrooms with more detail...


  7. #167

    Default Pollyanna's new shoes (part 2/3)

    Each pair of shoes and handpainted box it comes in, is handsigned,
    and as first pointed out by Ledger, comes with a signed and
    numbered certificate of authenticity.

    The first hightop model in our first tiny production (3 pieces) was given to Rita Britton, founder of Pollyanna for her birthday this weekend and in tribute to her pioneering work in both fashion and community and environmental service. For over 30 years Pollyanna has been an active member of Greenpeace, and one of the very few retailers in the world designer level that has emphasized a human, socially responsible, and community-oriented approach to fashion retailing. At Barnsley, Pollyanna is a cultural institution and deservedly so, serving as a hub of both social and artistic life among the Yorkshire region and beyond. A region which contains a wealth of historic and cultural treasures that rivals anywhere in Europe, including the beautiful Yorkshire sculpture park, Betty's teas, and York Minster cathedral and medieval shambles. But the biggest treasure of all is the people, staff and customers of the area whom you will find when you go there. I can now say so with firm experience and memories I will cherish in my heart for a long time to come from my too short visit.

  8. #168

    Default Pollyanna's new shoes (part 3/3)

    Special thanks and much gratitude to Ledger for his postings,
    Fred Fan, Anna, and the entire staff, family and clientele at Pollyanna,
    Rita and Geoffrey, and especially Mark, without whose
    patience, vision, understanding and continuous support this thread
    and this new project introduction would not have been at all possible.

    Hope this has been of some interest to all.

    Best wishes and thanks,

    Geoffrey B. Small

    P.S. And as for Yoox pics, we have tried to contact them in the past without ever getting any response. Half of the things we see on their sites with our name attached on it are unrecognizable to us. The other half is ancient and probably used, shopworn samples or damaged. We have no idea where they are getting the stuff and what it is, and we do advise caution regarding anything that claims to be our work that is not from an authorized dealer listed on our own website. Our work, including the shoes above is guaranteed for one year with free repair and parts replacement services from our workrooms in Italy. Beyond a year we still will provide the original owner with our backup services, but only if they deal through our authorized exclusive dealers. Caveat emptor.

    P.S.S. Oh and by the way C'est fini, the shoes are built and finished not like sneakers but real leather shoes inside and out. They will take a lot before they get stinky, there is no plastic or synthetic in the uppers so they breathe a lot better than ordinary sneakers or trainers. I hope to get a good 5-10 years out of mine and I don't like stinky shoes either.

  9. #169


    One thing that has long bothered me about sneakers is that, once i wear through the sole, they're dead. For everything but my actual running shoes, there's no massive performance I need out of sneakers. But, as they're not resoleable, I am forced to just throw them out once I've worn down the sole.

    Given the environmentally conscious approach taken here, is there going to be a way to resole these shoes?
    Hobo: We all dress up. We all put on our armour before we walk out the door, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re trying to be someone else.

  10. #170

    Default Replacement of soles

    Dear theetruscan,

    Actually, Giuseppe and I were discussing this exactly just awhile ago. It is feasible that the soles can be replaced depending upon 2 main things. One, is that we have available a new sole in the same original mold and style as the one that needs replacement. The other, is that the leather uppers are still in adequate shape and condition to withstand the dissassembling and reassembling operations involved in the sole replacement. Giuseppe and I are trying to figure out a plan to reserve or pre-stock some soles for future service work, albeit it is a little tricky at this moment as this is the one component which is industrially produced and may involve minimum orders in large quantities that may be prohibitive for us to go for due to the ultra-limited production series of the designs. In regards to wear, we might advise treating the shoes relatively nicely and alternating them with other shoes to extend product life and the leathers useful characteristics. Obviously, if worn every day non-stop with really hard use, options may be more limited.

    Best wishes, Geoffrey

  11. #171


    I like the sneakers GBS,
    i think they are great, aesthetically they are more "me" than any other sneakers I currently own,
    Lets see if I can make the dough to own one, even though that might take awhile even though I disagree with some of the things you said, but i will say more on that later.

    Also, Dont listen to C'est Fini, he seems to have made himself Sz's great "antagonizer", I have learned to live with him.
    He did complement the poem though, ......... sometimes I wish the axe man would blade him down
    “You know,” he says, with a resilient smile, “it is a hard world for poets.”
    .................................................. .......................

    Zam Barrett Spring 2017 Now in stock

  12. #172


    That "slit" detail in the heel of the last pair is interesting (well, actually the entire heel is). Does it have any functional purpose or is it just for aesthetical reasons?
    Suede is too Gucci.

  13. #173
    Senior Member Mail-Moth's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    In a french middleofnowhere


    I asssume that, since it is recycled leather, what you see there is part of what used to be a pocket opening on some leather jacket.
    I can see a hat, I can see a cat,
    I can see a man with a baseball bat.

  14. #174


    I think so too, it just happens to be cut from the pocket area of a leather jacket. Now that I've seen more detailed close-up pics, I like the one-off feel of the sneakers, in the sense that each pair will be unique because any part of the sneakers can come from any different part of a leather piece. It actually reminds me a lot, and rightfully so, of Margiela's 0 artisanal line...

  15. #175


    I was thinking they look like common projects, which isn't bad, it's a classic sneaker design (don't ban me ).

    Quote Originally Posted by H-R View Post
    I think so too, it just happens to be cut from the pocket area of a leather jacket. Now that I've seen more detailed close-up pics, I like the one-off feel of the sneakers, in the sense that each pair will be unique because any part of the sneakers can come from any different part of a leather piece. It actually reminds me a lot, and rightfully so, of Margiela's 0 artisanal line...

  16. #176

    Default About that slit on the Heel...

    Dear Mail-Moth and H-R,

    The slit is actually part of a bound buttonhole from the original jacket that was cut to make the shoes. Each shoe is different, and the cutting is totally unique for each one as Giuseppe and I try to use the existing details of the original piece in interesting and nice ways. Obviously, it is very time consuming compared to cutting new leather skins, but it is a part of classic recycle design--benefitting and flowing with already constructed details and elements that would be impossibly expensive to recreate from scratch for new versions. This of course, gives each piece its own unique design elements and really played a big part in our decision to launch the concept first with a very simple basic design structure or frame if you will and let the recycled aspects and construction do most of the talking.

    I have found that recycle design is an entire metier and art form in itself that merits its own commitment and standards. For Giuseppe, who is trained and experienced totally in making things from new materials, our collaboration is becoming a truly liberating and interesting exercise for him. For example, in addition to the buttonhole heel piece, in the photos from both our workrooms and Ledger, there are low dark brown versions with very simple seaming and detail stories, and also a black hi-top with a more radical triangular corner of a collar set in to the side. By changing the recycled compositions, detail arrangements and proportions we are creating an infinite number of different sneakers even though they have standard construction, fit and form aspects. At Pollyanna, we received even more customized orders, one which will be executed in a very cool white leather story and others which will be handsigned, tagged or decorated by me along the sides when they are finished in construction. Somehow, I cannot help but feel excited that we are on to something very fun and very personal with this project.

    In teaching my associates and students about recycling, I have always likened the metaphor to sculpture vs. architecture. In classic new "cut and sew" design, it's like putting up a house or a building, labor costs and materials are usually very high relatively, and the plan (sketch and final cutting pattern and layout marker and costs) needs to be very specifically worked out before cutting and assembly can begin. If one dashes ahead and starts trying to cut and sew without these parameters well in place and thought through there will be a mess that is most probably unreparable or unsellable at a price that it can pay for itself.

    Recycle design however, is like sculpture. First, you start with the stone. And every stone is different. In the words of Michelangelo,"I must first look intently at the stone for as long as it takes. Then at a certain moment, I can see the final sculpture literally inside the stone...and then I begin to cut it out."

    This is how in my experience, the best recycle design work is achieved, and because of this it is particularly unsuitable for industrial production system people and methods. Producer must be artist and artisan all in one, because every aspect of the production work leads to visual decisions that will affect the final outcome. And you cannot achieve this by making a "deskilled" human being stitch the same repetitive operation all their lives under a stopwatch at minimum or sub-minimum wages, as is being done all over the planet today for every major brand name on the market. This was one of the primary reasons my licensing arrangement with a producer in Italy about ten years ago worked out so poorly. They wanted to industrialize the recycled handmade collections we had so successfully done in Boston, using the standard Italian manufacturing systems, and quickly found it was a lot harder than it looked if you did not have a topshelf staff of super dedicated and passionate designer-tailors who could see and make an entire design all by themselves with clockwork precision.

    Martin has had a very similar experience and several years prior to retiring, and after the Renzo Rosso (Diesel Industries SpA and Staff International SpA owner) 100% buyout of his name and house MMM, pretty much dropped out of recycle work altogether. I was lucky and found a different way out. I went back to being a small micro-producer and as such, have been able to continue in the genre and take it further and further ahead, for example now, to these shoes and others that we presented alongside them in Paris last month.

    In the end, what is really satisfying is ending up with something totally different than what is expected, often from original items that previously had little current value. For example, many of the leather garments that were used to make the shoes were not wearable anymore as garments, but instead of ending up in landfill, have been transformed into beautiful and valuable pieces with a whole new life of utility, plus the reduced footprint.

    “Reduce, reuse, recycle” is the mantra behind the most important challenge we face as a species--balancing the needs of over 10 billion human beings with the earth's available and sustainable resource levels. For us, this does not mean any sacrifice or lowering of quality and standards. We have been leaders in recycle design in fashion for over 16 years, and we view it as both an art and science that has a 10,000 year history...a unique metier that yields incredibly beautiful, unique and efficient solutions and results.

    In our own small way, we hope these first-of-their-kind shoes will mean something more than a typical sneaker and make both a contribution to our customer's well-being and satisfaction, and an example for others in the industry to follow.

    And of course, that our customers will enjoy owning them as much as we had creating them.

    Best wishes, Geoffrey

  17. #177


    Oh casem, I agree that the shape looks like any classic sneaker design, my comment on the Margiela resemblance refers to the one-off feel and the deconstruction/reconstruction idea so to speak

  18. #178


    dear geoffrey,

    I like your sneakers and you have justified their existence well, though I wish you had done it in the reverse order. The conservation aspects of the designs, however amiable, should not be the selling point, they should be a feature, for as long as you keep making such a big deal about it it will be considered abnormal, and perhaps never make a mainstream difference. I think it is far more beneficial to concentrate on design, and have the sustainable aspects as a given feature that speak for themselves. I am a shoemaker and am studying architecture. I think sustainability in architecture has a relevant parallel to your work. The ramshackle mud house built in the middle of the dessert by some crazed hippie will never change as many minds as the slick corporate headquarters with a ground source heat pump and a black water treatment plant.

    As a shoemaker, I think the handmaking process is more of a sustainable feature than the recycling of leather. Handmade shoes are produced in small quantities and as such will never make dent in terms of material history, embodied energy etc. what I would consider if I were you is the duality in the process of taking a leather jacket apart, which is biodegradable, making it into a shoe and gluing a synthetic sole on to it, which will end up as landfill one day too. surely your practice needs to consider this...

    plus i really would like to see your ideas translated into real shoes, where the history is so much richer.

  19. #179
    Senior Member jcotteri's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Terra Australis Incognita


    keep posting Mr Small and have some patience and try not to take anything to harshly*

    *not directed at you asho
    WTB: This

  20. #180


    Wait, did a thoughtful post that brought up some valid points just get deleted or was it self editing?

    Well, I guess the poster saw it coming since he mentioned the axe coming down in the post, but this is getting ridiculous.

    I hate to be a dick and I feel bad for Geoffrey getting caught up in this debate, because it has little to do with him and more to do with how we treat criticism when interested parties (be they affiliates or designers) are present.

    Geoffrey's a big boy and has proven he can take criticism without running off, so why the itchy trigger finger on any voices of dissent?

    I like Geoffrey's work, Mail-Moth's coat in particular looks beautiful and I appreciate his commitment to sustainability but I don't see why he should be without criticism just because he contributes to the forum.

    I thought the deleted post had some valid and well articulated points. If CCP suddenly decided to start posting, would we no longer be allowed to make fun of the old "CCP" logoed tees, or if Damir Doma joined SZ would I be banned for mentioning how some of his pants look like you crapped yourself?

    The fundamental issue that rubs me here is this censoring is creating a hierarchy where Geoffrey's posts are worth more than any lay-SZer and any collateral damage (ie. banned participants) is worth it to keep Geoffrey on board. This is dangerous thinking, I thought the internet was an equalizing force.

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