Casual, handmade leather shoes at an accessible price
by Adrienne So in Style on 17 September 2014
Direct-to-consumer manufacturing companies like Everlane and Warby Parker have attracted a devoted customer following by offering attractive, top-quality products at a fraction of their traditional retail costs. Businessmen, tech geeks and shoe fanatics Nilton Duque, Emre Ulasti and Eamon Walsh are aiming to do the same with OneGround, which aims to manufacture and sell casual designer footwear for a fifth of the price—should their Kickstarter campaign be successful.
The name refers to the fact that, although the trio are separated by geographical distance (Duque in New York City, Ulasti in Istanbul and Walsh in Boston), they all share a common ground. Together, the three friends had a perfect storm of backgrounds for starting a business of this kind. Duque previously worked in e-commerce with companies including YOOX, while Walsh has experience in digital marketing, branding and distribution (specifically with several large European footwear companies). And Ulasti, who Walsh met in college, heads up his family’s 150-year-old shoe manufacturing factory in Turkey.
The idea for OneGround dawned on the trio gradually, after returning time and again from industry shows with trunks full of beautiful, overpriced footwear. “At the end of the day, I knew the production costs,” says Walsh. “I knew that really nice chukka was being produced for a twelfth of what it was being retailed for. I said, ‘Wait a minute. We can produce the shoes.’”
OneGround addresses several problems in the choked footwear market. The first and most obvious is that they reduce costs by eliminating distributors, retailers, advertising and unsold product. Second, Ulasti’s factory works in such small batches that the response time—from prototype to completed design—is lightning fast. Unlike many traditional fashion companies that maintain a lead time of over a year from design to finished retail product, OneGround can release new collections every 60 days. Rather than attempting to predict the fashions a year in advance, the company can simply react to which shoes are selling each season.
And finally, OneGround eventually hopes to offer the interested customer a transparent view of their manufacturing process, or as Walsh puts it, “the story of the shoe.” From sourcing the leather, to viewing the craftsman stitch and stamp each shoe with its individualized number, the insight even extends through to packaging.
The initial collection consists of three sneaker styles: The Edgar, a low-top; the Maya, a chukka; and the Walt, a slip-on. Each style comes in three different colorways and are made by hand in Turkey from full-grain calfskin leather, hand-stitched throughout the entire shoe and with gold numbering for each pair sold on the inside. The line will eventually include other flat, casual, unisex styles including oxfords, moccasins and Chelsea boots. “We wanted to make really functional products,” says Duque. “We took inspiration from the utilities, from iconic styles like the Common Projects low-top, the Jack Purcell, the Stan Smith.” The shoes start at $99, and OneGround’s goal is to keep the price of each style from ever exceeding $159.
OneGround’s Kickstarter just launched and profits will go towards starting pop-ups in cities like New York and towards initiatives like putting a production team in Ulasti’s factory to make short films about the making of each shoe.
Images courtesy of OneGround
London's Established & Sons taps the Italian duo to create a site-specific installation reflecting on the various passages of time
One of the more cleverly named design studios, London's Established & Sons has lived up to its moniker over the years, and 2015 will mark the progressive company's 10-year anniversary. To celebrate the indelible impact they've had on the industry—which is in large part due to the intelligent, experimental nature of founding partners Sebastian Wrong, Tamara Caspersz, Alasdhair Willis, Mark Holmes and Angad Paul (the only remaining founder)—Established & Sons asked Netherlands-based, Italian design duo Formafantasma to create a site-specific installation that reflects upon the notion of time.
"From Then On" consists of four functional sculptures that keep track of time in various increments, and through various materials. Formafantasma's Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin tells us that CEO Maurizio Mussati gave them carte blanche, and the most difficult challenge was to produce such technical manufacturing feats in a short amount of time. Thanks to the British outfit's longstanding manufacturing prowess (and relationship with Italian producer Tor Art), the exhibition is nothing short of impressive in scale and craftsmanship, while simultaneously meditative and engaging in concept.
In the center of the vault-like room is a brass pendulum, which swings back and forth every second. This is meant to symbolize our fight against time, as the brass base would naturally oxidize over time yet the polishing brush at the bottom of the pendulum keeps that process from occurring. Nearby stands two connected saxophones, which emit a sound every 15 minutes like a classic horological sentinel. "This is our town church bell," Trimarchi explains.
A massive slate of round Carrera marble represents time as a circular motion. The handless clock is comprised of two concentric circles, and when the veins in the marble match up, one hour has passed by.
An elegant fan clock in another part of the room expresses time as a repetitive pattern. Over the course of five minutes, the shade circumnavigating the brass center playfully unfolds and folds back up again as a reminder of our most common way of measuring time.
Concurrently on view at the London showroom is "Vital Statistics," an exhibition curated by Holmes, Established & Sons' original Design Director. The collection serves as a neatly edited overview of the range of talented designers they've worked with and the forward-thinking output of their uninhibited collaborations. Both exhibitions will be up at the London showroom through 21 September, which is located at 5-7 Wenlock Road, London, N1 7SL.
Lead image courtesy of Established & Sons, all others by Karen Day
The collective group installation and world premiere of the Super 8mm video for "Pulsars e Quasars"
by Hans Aschim in Culture on 17 September 2014
Electronic musician Alexis Georgopoulos (aka Arp) is no stranger to collaboration or experimentation. The NYC-based artist has worked with as many fellow musicians as he has painters, sculptors and illustrators. His latest work with Minneapolis studio RO/LU and San Francisco-based filmmaker Paul Clipson sees each artist's work contribute to an all-encompassing gallery experience. "In Waves"—on view now at NYC's Jack Hanley Gallery—is an interactive music, film and sculpture installation playing upon light, texture, shape and ambient sound. Georgopoulos composed an undulating score for the installation using a Moog synthesizer and the help of Nicky Mao (aka Hiro Kone) on violin and piano. Viewers are invited to rearrange RO/LU's ambiguous forms while Clipson's 16mm film and Arp's C minor, Dorian-only audio plays in imperfect unison. The light, shapes and harmony of music are ever-changing, resulting in a different experience with each viewing. Channeling a similar energy in 8mm film form is Arp's video for "Pulsars e Quasars," also directed by Clipson and debuting exclusively here on CH.
"Though his work is incredibly inviting, he likes challenging the viewer a bit," Georgopoulos says of Clipson's Super 8mm film. Clipson draws on in-camera techniques for the trippy visuals, including double and triple exposures and manipulating film speeds. Like the "In Waves" installation, collaborating led Georgopoulos to see his own work in a new light. "I've always felt the song had an autumnal quality—more cobblestone than beach," Georgopoulos explains. "Paul [Clipson] puts us on the beach, just before fall, when summer is still present—a time we have a hard time realizing is still here because we know what comes next."
Images by Hans Aschim