During week 2, we learned everything to know about materials. Dwayne handed the group over to Ms. Suzette Henry, THE authority when it comes to shoe materials. Suzette worked closely with Dwayne when they were at Jordan Brand and you can thank her for all the quality materials they used to use on your most prized J’s. If James Bond has Q for all this gadgets, Dwayne has Suzette for everything material related.
Material trends, color trends, textiles, fabrics, knits, synthetics, finishes, sandwich mesh, Ariaprene, leathers, COWS, tanning processes, on and on and on. If you look at my notes for the duration of the Future of Footwear class, probably 3/4 of it is about materials! I will never look at a shoe or bag the same again. It was really a joy to attend Ms. Suzette’s class because of her passion and enthusiasm towards sharing her knowledge. It definitely made me more interested in continuing to learn about materials even after the class. Thank you Ms. Suzette! May you never run out of Skittles. :)
Where we grab some 808 chicken then eat it at the nearby square!
By this time I was ready to decide on a project. I talked to Dwayne and presented my ideas and finally decided on the subject of “poverty”. The story on how I ended up with this subject is in my previous post. After deciding on a project, It was full steam ahead for most of us during this stage. Days in the studio would start really early and end very late. Several times we had to walk back to the hotel because we missed the last scheduled train. After which we would stay in the hotel lobby to continue sketching in a more relaxed environment. This gave us a chance to catch up with the other groups, joke around and help with each other’s work.
Heading to the riverbank park for the 4th of July celebrations.
Week 3. We will present to the judges at the end of the week. Hell week as they say. We were running out of Red Bull at this point as everyone was trying to squeeze every minute they can for each day. Also, this was the week we went to the Adidas Village. You can just imagine my excitement! Another one off the bucket list! I’ve always had better fit and feel with Adidas shoes and I feel that my design style is better aligned to what Adidas is doing. I love that they are most of the time understated, performance driven and anchored on tradition and history. The trefoil is my dream company.
Walking through a residential area to get to the Adidas Village.
We went through the different buildings in the Village. Saw how the entire process of creating shoes from design, rapid prototyping, samples manufacturing and wear testing. The design studio! I wasn’t even aware we were heading in the design studio until I saw “the wall”. It was full of images and renderings of signature shoes in the pipeline. There were samples of shoes in development, different colorways, material swatches, etc. I took my time walking around, taking deep breaths. I must be dreaming. S/O to Thomas Le, a KicksGuide fellow I met in the design studio working his Cintiq. It was a real pleasure meeting you, Sir! We also met up with a fellow Pensole alum working on his first week in Adidas, congratulations Erick Ikeda! You are one of the most positive, insightful and awesome to hangout with Solebro! Thanks for making time to drop by the Pensole studio from time to time.
I wish we could spend more time in the design studio. I wish I could stay in the studio.
Entrance to the basketball court.
Getting a quick overview of the Adidas Village.
Welcome to The Dream.
Towards the end of the tour, we met with the Adidas talent recruiter to have a better idea what they are looking for and how we can better prepare ourselves to get that job. It was a very insightful forum. To end the tour, we got to shop at the employee store! Let’s just say this was the most pairs I’ve bought in a single time. Hey, my birthday was coming up, so when in Rome. LOL
Now back to reality. Friday, presentation day. We were given only 4 minutes to present our projects to the judges so everyone was rehearsing their lines and timing. This was the time the teams were really coming together. I give credit to my teammates Muan, Cody, Steve, Jordan and Jorge for helping polish my project and get my timing right. Couldn’t have done it without you guys.
All those coffee cup holders I amassed through the week needs to go somewhere, right? OK, amassed in a couple of days.
Sponsors and guests were coming in the studio. Judges were arriving one by one. Jason Mayden, Matt Rhodes, Wilson Smith and a few more industry pros made up the panel of judges. Dwayne wasn’t playing when he picked the judges. A combined 210 years of industry experience, whew!
“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for successful personality and duplicate it.” -Bruce Lee
Michael and his wall. That pencil and marker rendering is the standard!
The performance category was to go first. My roommate and idea-sparring partner, Michael Williams presents 1st overall, Ian Black (look out for this kid) is 2nd, I’m 3rd to present overall and Iben Johansen presents last for our category. I had the crazy idea of not using any slides until I finish with the backstory of my design. I felt I could present my project better that way, without any distractions. It was for me, really. I guess I’m more comfortable presenting knowing that I have the audience’s and judge’s full attention. I finished my story, went through most of the slides as fast and clear as I could and as I was about to go to the last 2 presentation slides, my time was up. I wasn’t able to finish my presentation. I figured it was OK since the last slides show the colorways. I was able to present the body of my presentation, I’m happy with that!
Michael presenting his work.
It was the judges turn to give feedback on my work. By chance, Tuan Le was next to give feedback. If I remember correctly, Tuan Le is the designer of the And1 Tai Chi and the APL Concept 1. Thankfully, I received positive feedback. He called my project the “Volkswagen of shoes”, simple but beautiful. I think he is pertaining to the VW Beetle that gained the nickname “the people’s car” (look out Air Monarch! LOL). I couldn’t be happier with his response as it was the design direction I was going for, to offer the most basic foot covering that could be manufactured with the least amount of material, cheap to make but still be aesthetically pleasing. That was weight off my shoulders!
And I’m done. A walk back down the aisle, DE waiting at the end with a handshake and a hug. I went to the other side of the studio, sat down, took a deep breath and said a prayer: Thank You for standing in front with me during the presentations, I did my best for the given time. Whatever happens, I am thankful. Now time for lunch… at 5PM!
Everybody finished with their presentations. Everybody hung out a few more minutes after the show for some food and drinks at the studio. I can’t believe I’m talking and sharing the room with these guys. Yes, whatever you grew up wanting, whatever you have on your feet, whatever you are lining up for, camping out for, YES, they probably had a hand in that. I am unbelievably blessed being a part of this awesome program!
They eat normal food after all. Just checking. :)
SLEEP AT LAST!
The next day we are back at the studio for the portfolio review and mock interview. I had prepared a quick portfolio before for a failed job opportunity and I was planning to revise it so I figured might as well show it to the judges for comments. The panel is a triad of a designer, developer and another designer. We learned more about what the review panel look for in a portfolio and what questions they would ask on interviews. This is an exclusive insight that can help us be better prepared for these kinds of opportunities.
Part of the panel is Justin Taylor, a KicksGuide legend! That website, KicksGuide started my passion for designing footwear. Meeting him that day made me feel that God prepared me all these years for this day. This would never have happened if I quit trying when nothing was working out. It wasn’t easy with all the failures and hindrances but faith and those who believe in me carried me through and will continue to carry me forward.
Success is a result of consistent practice, winning, skills and actions. There is nothing miraculous about the process. There is no luck involved. Amateurs hope, professionals work. – Bill Russell
There was a lot to overcome for me to chase my dream and make this trip. I am grateful for those who took a chance on me and believed in what I can do. The work is not done, there is still a lot to do.
Inspired, happy and hopeful.