At Graduate Fashion Week, we hosted a live Q&A with New Balance’s footwear designer, Sam Pearce. During the interactive conversation, Sam shed light on his journey from a student to his current role and offered insight into the role of sustainability in the footwear industry.
Starting with a discussion on the opportunities GFW offers graduate students, Sam went on to explain his time as a kid and his inspirations which led him to a career in footwear design at New Balance:
“As a kid I spent most of my time doing sports more than studying or doing anything else and that’s how it all started, ending up in sportswear. I started designing everyday sneakers, and now I work for a super progressive brand like New Balance, and I have an incredibly productive team that helps me combine my two main passions: fashion and sports”.
Taking us through his time at De Montfort University – which was the only university that provided a footwear design course back then – Sam reflects on the Pencil Program, which allowed him to gain experience in Portland at Nike. There, Sam was able to work “alongside people from all backgrounds and age groups” – which provided him with invaluable experience and skills for the future.
Emphasising the importance of learning at university, Sam strongly believes “people should make the best out of the techniques learnt when studying, because they will be the basis for whatever you’ll do in life”.
Moving the discussion on to the topic of sustainability within the footwear industry, Sam explains: “sustainability is something that’s always been on the cards, but right now it’s a trend as we can’t keep treating the globe like this. Shout the loudest at the moment is how it’s marketed but it needs to be forever”.
“The industry is finally starting to realise that clothes can be recycled, and that can and should happen in footwear as well. Consumerism is teaching people that is ok to throw away goods, and despite technology and quality improvement, we are using things half the time than we used to”.
New Balance is a brand committed to sustainable manufacturing. The brand is one of a select few that are engineering their products domestically. Some pieces have been designed to use as little material and resource as possible, and everything is sourced within 100 miles of their factories across the globe.