IDYSM: What is Concept Kicks, and how/when did it come to exist?
Daniel: ConceptKicks is a website that showcases all things footwear design and shines some spotlight on the amazingly talented, upcoming and professional designers in the industry.
I created ConceptKicks about a year ago as a resource for young and professional designers to be inspired and interact with one another, as well as educating sneakerheads about the many people involved and the hard work that goes into creating footwear from a design and development perspective.
IDYSM: Why the fascination with design, when sneakers were initially designed to be a practical piece of footwear?
Daniel: As sneakers have evolved over the years, they’ve become far more than just something practical; they’ve become functioning pieces of art. The design has been thought out and executed so well that they’ve propelled footwear as a product into realms that most other pieces of clothing will ever hope to reach.
There’s just something special about sneakers that can totally alter the way you feel, it’s a total design experience. From opening the nicely designed box, seeing that beautifully designed shoe, taking in that new shoe smell, lacing them up…it’s very ritualistic.
IDYSM: When do you think kicks made the move from being a practical item to a work of art?
Daniel: I think one of the major turning points would the Air Jordan line. I mean these were performance sneakers that looked so beautiful that people would buy two pairs (one to wear and the other to display) and wanted to wear them outside of the Basketball court, which kind of blurred the lines between them a performance shoe, a fashion shoe and a work of art.
IDYSM: What era do you think has been the most inspiring in sneaker history design and why?
Daniel: It’s always easy to look back and say ‘I think such and such was the best time’, but I actually think we’re in an extremely inspiring time right now. Brands are really starting to push the technology envelop, but are doing it in a very stylistic manner. We’re also on the cusp of mixing high design with more performance footwear (Puma & Mihara Yasuhiro, Adidas and Raf Simons etc…) which is leading to some really interesting looking footwear.
IDYSM: Across all eras, if it’s possible to pick just one shoe as the most influential and important of all time from a design perspective, what would it be and why?
Daniel: I’m glad you added ‘from a design perspective’ in there, because that significantly changes my answer. I think a big shoe from a purely design standpoint that really altered the game forever, would most likely be the, Nike Air Max. Tinker Hatfield has been responsible for a lot of monumental moments in the footwear industry, but I’d maybe say of all his design ideas, this is arguably the best. Making the air bag visible, showcasing the technology and actually making it part of the design aesthetic showed people that you can have the functional aspects of the shoe directly affect the form in a positive way. Even to this day the shoe resonates with people and has a cult following, that shows how well the form & function fit together, he & Nike really created something very special.
IDYSM: Where does the current era rate?
Daniel: I think we’re currently in an extremely inspiring time right now, it’s definitely up there.
IDYSM: And designers? Who has been the most inspiring designer in your mind and why?
Daniel: I’m pretty ADD with who I think is great, as I can find designers (and artists, Daniel Arsham for example) outside of footwear be incredibly inspiring for footwear. I brought this guy just before, but Mihara Yasuhiro dropped some ridiculous shoes with Puma lately that I find amazingly inspiring. For a strictly shoe design angle though, I’m a big fan of the stuff Nathan Van Hook from Nike has been coming up with.
IDYSM: There is more choice than ever before now, do you think that’s a negative thing, as it see’s some really key design pieces blur into the vast number of shoes out there?
Daniel: It’s definitely a very copy & paste era in a lot of ways. That’s partly to do with the general consumers taste, they want something that’s generally pretty safe, sameness, so that’s where the money is. Generally if you create some super amazing, innovative and stylistic footwear, they’re not going to make the type of money a footwear brand needs to make to be able to afford to stay afloat (at least not at first) without at least also creating some simple, somewhat generic shoes that they know people are going to buy. This of course leads to a lot of similar shoes in the market place, and sometimes good shoes can get lost within it all, but we only have ourselves as consumers to blame for that.
IDYSM: There currently seems to be a lot of tech innovation going on across all brands. Is that good for pushing the game forwards, or is it a bad thing with too many gimmicks out there?
Daniel: I think it used to be a bad thing. Brands didn’t really know how to incorporate innovative functionality into a shoe without making it taking over the whole look or it looking a bit cheesy. Don’t get me wrong, not every brand gets it right now, but generally I think we’re doing a great job of creating tasteful, technology infused footwear that will stand the test of time.
IDYSM: What are your own tastes?
Daniel: My own tastes are very simple; Well thought out, clever and discrete design with a great deal of attention to detail. I like the more outlandish stuff every once and a while (some of the Hussein Chalayan x Puma collab for example) and can appreciate a lot of the wilder types of designs, but I myself appreciate the little things. A perfect example would be the Garbstore x Reebok GS sneaker where they flipped the guts of the sneaker and put the inner of the shoe on the outer, creating something different, clever & super interesting.
IDYSM: You’re a designer too and part of FTWRDSGN, please tell is a bit about you and the group and what you hope to achieve.
Daniel: Yeah I dabble a little, ha. I like to be involved in a lot of different projects in as many different areas as possible, some by my own label/persona MrBailey and some with my FTWRDSGN collaborative. FTWRDSGN is a team of super talented creatives that deal mainly with designing footwear for clients, from initial conception, all the way up to development of the final sample. MrBailey is really quite varied, right now I’m involved in quite a few projects that will dropping next year involving everything from 3D printed footwear to a motion steered, F1 style, JetSki. MrBailey is basically me, and everything I’m lucky enough to be involved in, and is a vessel I use to try to help spread inspiration and knowledge of design, creativity and general artistry through the products & articles I create through that moniker.
IDYSM: I always end my In Their Shoes interviews with this question so I have to ask; what’s on your feet right now?
Daniel: Right now I’ve got on some super warm wool lined Palladium boots.