Portland is a city known for many things including crazy donuts, bridges, bicycles, and – would you believe it – sneakers! With industry giants like Nike, Adidas, Columbia Sportswear and more headquartered in the Portland area, it is a sneaker heaven for many, including D’Wayne Edwards.
An experienced former shoe designer for Nike, Edwards saw the opportunity to take his vast knowledge of sneaker design and pass it along to a younger generation of innovative designers interested in getting into the field. Edwards founded the Pensole Footwear Design Academy in 2010 to provide education in a field not heavily explored by other fashion design programs.
This summer, 30 young, aspiring shoe designers from 16 countries descended on Portland with hopes of revolutionizing the footwear game at the PENSOLE World Sneaker Championships. With the chance to have their final design sold at retail on the line, the students attended classes covering footwear design, color/material/finishes, and 3D modeling. The students created designs for the WSC sponsors including Nike (woman’s sportswear), Under Armor (men’s basketball), JORDAN (running), Adidas (running), PONY (heritage), New Brand (value), Android Homme (designer) and UNDFTD (collector).
During the competition professional Color, Material, Finishes (CMF) Designers worked with and mentored the students. (A CMF’s job is to take a design and find fabrics in the right color, texture, style, weight and durability to make the design come to life.)
We were lucky to also meet with contestants to educate them on how Ariaprene is different from other synthetic rubbers the industry uses. We discussed the ecological, performance, and design benefits of Ariaprene. We also helped them understand how to build a custom Ariaprene package and tailor it to the exact construction needed. It was important to us that these young designers recognized that the industry doesn’t have to keep making things the same way thanks to material innovations that continue to opening up new doors for improved products.
After the designs were presented to a panel of judges, eight finalists were chosen and voting was opened to the public on the Sports Illustrated website. When the final votes were tallied, Stefan Cristobal of the Philippians and Lindsey Johnson (his materials designer) stood victorious with a sneaker designed for the Android Homme brand.
The World Sneaker Championships showcased the depth of creative ideas in the industry. It was important that we were involved in this year’s competition because we believe that students hold the future to innovation and development in the product design world. Helping make their intricate and demanding designs become a reality also inspires Ariaprene to continue spreading the word about our products and practices. To see more products that contain Ariaprene please visit our product gallery. For more information about the Pensole Footwear Academy visit their website.
Winning design photo: nicekicks.com