Introducing the size? sponsored Footwear Design Award entries for Graduate Fashion Week 2022

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Graduate Fashion Week is back, and this year will be our fifth year running; the event is taking place at Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross, London from 20th – 24th June. With a jam-packed year of events coming up, we are super excited to announce that our size? syllabus project will continue to evolve, and this time Vans will be joining us every step of the way.

Being the first official academic partner to get involved with size? syllabus, we can’t wait to work side by side with Vans – a company very close to our hearts, and aligned with the size? journey since 2000. Vans will be getting directly involved with the students and universities within size? syllabus – we’ll both be working with UCLan, Plymouth College of Art, Arts University Bournemouth and Northumbria.

Let us just give you a brief overview of size? syllabus again too. Syllabus has the aim of nurturing creative talent at an early stage, offering industry level critique & insight, as well as help & support to creatives to ensure they keep pushing the boundaries of their craft.

For a third year, we’ll also be sponsoring the Footwear Design Award, and we can now share the amazing shortlist. This year is a very special one for talent, across the different pitches, there are forward-thinking ideas on sustainability, utterly unique styles, slow fashion principles and much more. From each stitching to vibrant colourways, have a read and get a glimpse on each design below…

Sam Lilley | De Montfort University | Footwear Design

Sam Lilley’s project delves into the world of Parisian street art, taking inspiration from Antwan Horfee’s expressive cartoony style. With an influence that spans across painting, tattoos, comics and graffiti art, Horfee’s work is continuing to gain respect in the art world.

Lilley has observed Horfee’s works, taking inspiration from his unique design processes for his own pair of shoes. The result is something outdoorsy, chunky and loud, boasting a long list of techy specifications and artistic references throughout. Check out some words from Sam himself below…

“Using further reference to the use of foliage in Antwan’s works, I decided to use wool throughout the boot to give the design texture and depth. The mesh is faded, similar to the backgrounds of Horfee’s work, this lays a foundation for the layering of the materials throughout the boot. Horfee uses airbrushing techniques to create depth, so I decided to use this on the heel.”

“I used the colours from “Mobile Cropper”, particularly the colourful ground of the scene which uses bright pink with a flat purple. This was used on the midsole which brings out the colour from the upper, which is slightly more flat in comparison. Ovals were a common shape that appeared during my design development stages, especially with the trail style, so I decided to include this in the asymmetrical trail design.”

Innes Thomson | Sheffield Hallam University | BA Fashion Design

With sustainability at the forefront of her design, Innes Thomson points out that this is pivotal to the future of footwear, and that is should be the focus of every designer’s projects to come.

This project looks both forward and back exploring how sustainable materials can form the structure of a silhouette that nods to ancient footwear discovered in Scotland.

Here’s some words from Innes:

“My research for my footwear design came from a subsection of my graduate collection that looked into the mycelium network and structures. I am a big fan of the potential of mycelium as a textile and I love that although mycelium has existed for 2400 million years it has an incredible futuristic and alien quality to it despite it being the life source of earth.”

Rosie Holt | Northumbria University | BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Marketing

Using her label Grey House, Rosie Holt has designed a shoe that aims to promote a slower fashion industry by striving to eliminate one-wear garments. The quality of these shoes needed to be premium, so walking boots-inspiration provides the much-needed longevity and comfort needed. ‘90s rave-inspiration has been used too, helping achieve something that was street-ready as well as being highly functional.

“The 190 is a shoe designed to reduce and promote less waste, created from recycled PU leather and a variety of old tires. This shoe explores and takes inspiration from the ‘90s rave scene, researching brands such as Gordan Jack and Roxy platform.”

Sam Clegg | University of Central Lancashire | BA (Hons) Fashion Promotion

With sustainability at the heart of his project, Sam Clegg points out many areas in which the industry needs to improve. Using adidas’ FUTURECRAFT.STUDIOS – a sustainable trainer repair service – this is a platform where waste gets transformed into something with new life.

Sam represents his own wastefulness and provides insight on an industry level of how we can all improve, while there are some really interesting marketing ideas within.

“Reports have shown that the footwear industry is accountable for one-fifth of the environmental impacts generated by the apparel industry, despite representing only less than a tenth of its total value. Highlighting a need for industry leaders to start making changes that do not solely focus on profits and finding solutions to their environmental impact.”

“Guerrilla marketing will play a heavy part in promoting FUTURECRAFT.STUDIOS. Branded electronic bin vans, bin men and bins where ‘waste’ trainers are collected throughout the city centres, alongside live repair billboard studios situated in public heady areas.”

Matthew Jones | University of Northampton | BA (Hons) Footwear & Accessories

For this project, Matthew Jones has created Sphera, a brand with the focus of combatting the distinct lack of gender egalitarianism within sports performance footwear. Throughout this pitch, Matthew highlights key issues, such as injury-prone effects of current footwear and tweaks needed for female anatomy.

Matthew has also recognised the 2022 Qatar World Cup and the architecture of the stadiums as an inspiration for his designs, while recognising the humanitarian issues surround their creation.

“Qatar is recognised for its beautiful architecture, and the research led to gaining an understanding of the complex process of developing its most famous buildings.”

Edwina Arthurs | Ravensbourne University London | Fashion / BA Fashion Accessory and Textile Futures

Edwina Arthurs’ project explores representation of black empowerment in a shoe through music and culture, offering loud and fashion-forward designs inspired by art that reflects the times. Sound waves, braided knit, swirl knit and more have been used throughout the designs while the colour purple has been used to represent the jazz era, royalty and luxury.

“‘Make Noise’ is a women’s footwear collection for women of colour to make a statement around Black pride. The collection is inspired by how people of colour have utilised music to protest, protect and escape oppression. Rooted in the Cotton Club, people of colour have had to navigate covertly their protest in the everyday.”

“Inspired by the dignity shone by Nina Simon, these shoes are novel in three aspects…

1. The 3D print heels/ outsoles are generated by taking Simone’s song to

produce an algorithm to create the heel form.

2. The knits patterns have been produced similar to the above

3. The business model is one of sharing, where the shoes are passed from

wearer to wearer, borrowed to accrue the history of the previous wearer.”

Alexander Cho | De Montfort University | BA (Hons) Footwear Design

Inspired by Cyberpunk and the idea of a dystopian, futuristic society, Alexander Cho’s ‘Neo Femme’ project explored the idea of merging futuristic elements with the impracticality of the upper classes as represented in film and pop culture.

Alexander explained “the designs represent the dysfunctionality of modern society with impractically bulky heels, aggressive curves and unstable surfaces. These elements illustrate how the upper class in cyberpunk are seen dressed in unsuitable and impractical attire. Versus that of the lower class of people living in a dystopic society.”

Speaking of the design process, Alexander said he “aimed to represent a current style of futuristic fashion blending in synthetic materials with organic materials. The blend between luxury and technology.”

Luke Angell | University of Northampton | BA (Hons) Footwear & Accessories

For his project, Luke looked to New York and the transition from day to night within the city. Paying particular attention to the Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Centre and Chrysler Building, Luke utilised the colours and themes of each landmark and translated them into his capsule of footwear.

He explains, “NON-STOP is an outdoor sneaker collection inspired by the streets and sights of New York City. Looking at iconic tourist landmarks, architecture, street art and street culture.”

“The shoes are made to be worn in all conditions. Providing comfort, style and durability for exploring the streets.”

Bethany Oakey | Northumbria University | BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Marketing

Bethany Oakley’s work is inspired by her Grandpa O and his attitude of ‘Make do and mend’. The project celebrates ‘Grandpa’s love for repairing and making things throughout his life, never wanting to create waste.’

Bethan modelled her design on two of her Grandpa’s go-to shoes, explaining that ‘Grandpa had his favourite sandals that he wore all day, every day; mending them throughout the years. He also wore crocs that he referred to as his ‘dress crocs’, as he liked to keep them for best.”

I wanted to create a shoe for a younger target market, inspired by my grandpa’s post-war mindset that educates and celebrates the importance of mending and repairing through decorative darning.’

Dickson-Adjei Agyekum | De Montfort University | BA (Hons) Footwear Design

Looking to the Space-Time Continuum for the basis of his design, Dickson-Adjei Agyekum came up with three shoes with forward-thinking elements and layered, exaggerated soles.

“For the design of my sole units towards my collection I took inspiration from the two Space- Time Continuum sculptures by Clayton Thompson (1. Space-Time Continuum V4, – 2. Time Space Corridor Poa).”

Using the sculptures as a base and then referring back to silhouettes from the likes of Hoke One One and Prada, Dickson-Adjei came up with his designs. “I’ve incorporated the intriguing shape and form of the sculptures within my sole designs, with a particular attention on recreating and adapting the continuous construction.”

Georgia Wintle | University of South Wales | BA HONS Fashion Design

Georgia Wintle hopes to encourage a more sustainable approach to fashion, especially using leather, through her project. She explains how “the application of craft of waste leather can lead into many more sustainable outcomes, as well as offering a one-of-a-kind stamp to the product as two will never be alike.”

As well as looking after the planet and making something unique, Georgia believes that “considered design can be as luxury and high end as other brands that do not have responsibility as their core focus. It can lead to a change in the industry that pushes people to be more aware of their impact on people and the planet.”

Yinglin Xu | De Montfort University | BA(Hons) Footwear Design –

Yinglin XU created three shoes using design cues from ancient ships to craft her designs – “Sailing has had a profound impact on human history, with people traveling across the seas to develop new continents. Ancient ship making is a combination of practicality and art.”

Taking the idea of art and practicality merging, Yinglin structured her pieces with the same techniques used in boat making, in order to save on glue.

“This project is mainly inspired by the structure of ancient ships to design shoes, using wood joinery to reduce the use of glue.”

Keep an eye on our blog and socials for plenty more GFW 2022 content!

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