What better way to empower people in making choices than a sneaker collaboration designed by the consumers? As the U.S. elections approached at the end of 2016, Saucony, and one of New York's premier sneaker distributors, Extra Butter (EB), teamed up for a simple yet important concept: highlight voter participation. The project, known as "For The People", gave power to sneaker enthusiasts in deciding the silhouette, the original concept, and the overall execution of the shoe.
After multiple rounds of voting and design deliberation through social media channels, the final product was revealed in the form of a Saucony Shadow 5000 inspired by a "Night at the Drive-In" - reflecting the classic automobiles of the 50's. The luxurious sneaker is accentuated with premium full-grain leather, wolverine pigskin suede and patent leather, and received chrome pieces and graphic labels.
To dive further into this collab, SA'ICHI cinched an exclusive interview with the Filipino visionary behind Extra Butter: co-founder/creative director Jason Faustino.
Learn more below.
SA’ICHI: What was the inspiration behind the concept?
Jason Faustino: In early 2015, it was easy to identify 2016 being an election year. With that in mind, I wanted to do a project that had something to do with democracy. The thoughts were to do something patriotic and avoid anything overly political. Instead, I thought we'd highlight the simple concept of voter participation, empowering the people to make a choice. My feelings at the time were that sneakerheads had so much to say, now having the voice of social media with personalities emerging on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube. I also felt there was a lot of misinformation out there regarding the sneaker industry and how it really works, a collaboration project workings, the design process, etc. When I came up with "For The People" - I thought this would provide 3 things - transparency/insight to a collaborative process, direct participation for our audience in a first-of-its-kind way, and a cool look at human behavior and participation through this process....I called it a "Social Design Experiment". From there the voting process began, through social media, even an in-store voting box, we let people cast votes to determine which Saucony model would be used, what the theme would be (options provided all had an American heritage theme in mind), and then various stages of design elements.
SA'1: How did the design process begin?
JF: Knowing the sneaker collaboration can take anywhere from 10-14 months, we started the process early. We began by campaigning that Extra Butter would be teaming up with Saucony (such an amazing partner to work with) on a project called "For The People". Without revealing too many details, we felt it was a sentiment our consumers would identify with our nature to be very much "for the people". We also aimed the graphics of the imagery in our campaigning through social media towards a vintage 50's-60's U.S. politics aesthetic.
SA'1: Please tell us a short background on the chosen theme and its design elements.
JF: The chosen theme was "Night at the Drive-In" - I think people were attracted to the possible colorways, and that it tied back to Extra Butter's movie themed background. When we mocked up designs for the "Night at the Drive-In" theme - we played with dark bases with neon lights, elements of a drive-in cinema, and then the classic cars story, something both we and our audience found appealing when looking at retro drive ins, and as a chosen aesthetic for a sneaker. When the design direction was settled, we took two options to Saucony to begin sampling. If you look at the hashtag #EBFTP you'll see the samples came back extremely close to what was originally chosen by our audience and proposed by us. We let our audience in on a live look via periscope for us to unveil the samples for the first time, and for as much feedback as possible to come in to make a decision on which option was preferred, and what tweaks could be made. The result was a combination of the two, which I think ultimately made everyone happy - maintaining the buttery soft, premium leather and suede, but using little accents of patent leather to give the shoe a candy coated metallic effect, that was seen on the retro automobiles.
SA'1: Can you share with us a secret throughout the process.
JF: One of the other design options that was not chosen happen to our team's internal favorite and this was the "sister" to the choice that had won. While the "Night at the Drive In" shoe was based on the vintage cars, we had another option based on the cars interior. We were attracted to this option because of the idea of plus leathers with trim, brown tortoise shell accents, and the notion that when you're in your car watching a movie...well the inside of the car is just as important, and saw some action as well. :) Our "Friends and Family" version reflected this design - but overall told a full circle story for the project.
SA'1: Since the project's theme was "For the People", do you have a message to your followers in the Philippines?
JF: Yes! I do have a message for my people in the Philippines. I'd love to get the shot of doing a project specifically targeted and catering to Filipino people. It excites me as to what design direction it would take, whether it be a political story, what food might be chosen, maybe one of the beautiful areas of the country, or something traditional whether it be something simple like the flag colors, or something even more unique to us - like a barong! The only other message I have is that doing a project like this breaks boundaries. I think it's an emphasis on working and building as a community. It hopefully plays some part in opening a younger generation's eyes into what's possible when you can connect with your passions on a deeper level and emphasizing involvement overall, while having your voice actually heard and properly considered.
A sneaker designed by you through the vision of a Filipino based in New York. Don't miss on the Saucony X Extra Butter Shadow 5000 "For The People" as it lands locally in Sole Academy as an exclusive this Saturday, March 25.
Photos courtesy of Extra Butter.
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