If you’re like me, you know that pain is sometimes a necessary evil when squeezing into a pair of beautiful shoes. But look at the leather cut-outs! Look at the height on that heel, the towering platform, the straps and buckles and tie-ups! We will gladly suffer the pain in order to wear a bit of art on our feet. As women, we accept this; Centuries of history has us squeezing, zippering and sucking into the vessel of our choice. But after an hour of traversing concrete NYC streets, or a vigorous night of dancing, I often question my own propensity for pain and wonder about the sadist in me that submits my feet to so much misery. I then toss the items of question into a closet, cursing my vanity and swearing I will never walk in them again (or at least until I forget the pain). Twin shoe designers Shane & Shawn think a lot about girls like me and they believe you don’t have to sacrifice your toes in order to look beautiful. We talked to them about their company, their philosophy of comfort and design and where they see themselves in the future.
Twins Shawn and Shane Ward were born in Detroit, and studied in The University of Michigan. The brothers began their careers in the Automotive industry,and were later inspired to become entrepreneurs. After forming a business partnership, they started their own freelance design consultancy agency, SW2Design which became one of the most sought after freelance design consultancies in the footwear industry, designing shoes for AND1, Fila, Puma, Royal Elastics, Adidas, Airwalk and Converse to name a few.
With the success of SW2Design, the twins continued to progress, creating a footwear brand of their own. The line called Shane and Shawn is inspired by the lifestyle of jet setting individuals who demand style with uncompromised fit and function.
Coming from an engineering background, you’ve really utilized your technical skills in a creative way. When you’re designing: what do you think about structurally when you are creating a shoe?
Structurally, it”s about two main objectives. – comfort and fit. how can we make the shoe comfortable underneath the foot and how do we need to design the upper so that it does not create discomfort to the ankles or any other part of the foot .
Are you more faithful to aesthetic form or function? Or does that vary from shoe to shoe?
It is always a balance between the two. One is never more important than the other. It’s just about recognizing that if you design a beautiful shoe, then it will be picked up off the shelf, but if it isn’t comfortable, it will not be purchased.
What do you think makes a beautiful shoe?
The perfect combination of shape, materials, details, and visual excitement creates a beautiful shoe.
There’s so many architecturally designed footwear on the scene now that look more and more fantasy oriented with different silhouettes and over the top accessories. What is your opinion of that whole trend?
I think the trend is positive, whenever the traditional ways of creating and designing is challenged, it’s a positive. Trends like this push all of us designers to new levels.
Do you think you will ever branch out to other accessories? I see that you have done pillows and tshirts to benefit charities. Ever thought of a home or bath line?
We are always looking to expand our offerings when the timing is right. You will see the Shane&Shawn brand expand into more categories in the next 2 years.
What kind of woman do you design for? What kind of man?
We design for who we call the boardroom rockstar. The professionals who have an incredible lifestyle and love fashion.
I love how you’ve collaborated with painters to create an “Artist’s Series.” Can you talk a little bit about that experience?
The artist series was born out of our love for the art community and giving back. The ideas was very pure, in that we wanted to create a collection of shoes that showcased the talent of the downtown new art scene while making a difference in the inner city (33% of all sales of artist series god to the art program of nycares).
Any future collaborations?
Yes, we will be making a big announcement in a couple weeks.
What’s next for Shane & Shawn?
We are taking our flagship retail business on the road with a mobile flagship. (See more information Below)
-Interview by Jeanie Kwak
Information about the Mobile Flagship Store:
In one of their most exciting ventures to date, the innovative twins are taking their stylish designs on the road with the Shane&ShawnMobile Flagship Tour. Shawn Ward, President and Co-founder of the brand explains how the idea came about, “We have always loved taking opportunities to meet the supporters of Shane&Shawn and are constantly receiving requests to open stores in other cities of the United States. We felt limited with a fixed location and decided to think outside the box, go beyond the concept du jour of the pop-up store and bring Shane&Shawn to the people in a way that no one has done before. We have created a luxury Mobile Flagship and will take the store on tour across the country. With our strong social media following, we can keep our consumers aware of our every move as we tour the US.” Keeping with their commitment to philanthropy, 10% of all sales during the tour will go toward eliminating violence against women and girls, with donations to V-Day. The twins are excited to announce the first three tour dates on the Shane&Shawn Mobile Flagship Tour:
Sundance Film Festival Park City, Utah January 21st – 31st, 2010
Super Bowl Weekend Miami, Fl February 5th – 7th, 2010
Tribeca Film Festival New York, NY April 21st – May 2nd, 2010
With the launch of their mobile flagship, the brand will be saying farewell to their Nolita location in New York City for the time being. Constant tour updates will be communicated via the SHANE&SHAWN Twitter and Facebook pages, as well as on their website at www.shaneandshawn.com.