Here’s the story of our journey to co-created footwear. By open sourcing design and concept selection in the most consumer engaging way we could think of.
Challenging the industry standard of an 18 month product development calendar, we knew that, when brought together, the design community can be faster, more relevant and more engaging for the consumer. So we cut 18 months to 3 and started a 90-day project to design, select and produce a sneaker, bringing everyone along on that journey with us.
We asked the community - what sole do you want to design on? This kickstarted 30 days of design throughout June, from a truly global network of talented designers connected by one goal. The community took to the challenge brilliantly and we were truly overwhelmed by the response. 30 days later we had over 850 amazing concepts and designs on the PLUMP outsole were taking over instagram! The response from the competition was phenomenal, within the community we saw designers collaborating superbly (shoutout to @sam_whit_design, for creating a great 3D model of the outsole). Designers received awesome constructive feedback from the community on their designs and we had countless messages reaching out to express the excitement for the competition. This has only increased as we’ve entered the voting stages.
As mentioned in earlier posts, we would preselect designs to enter the month of voting. This was to ensure we met the aim of a fast and relevant 90 day project, but more so to ensure that we could engage the community throughout. We committed ourselves to making this process the most open, honest and community driven as we possibly could. Therefore to ensure that the top posts were selected based on the consumer perception rather than individual popularity we made a big effort to reach out to a couple of key sources.
SOLEBLOC - Exhibiting at one of the UK’s largest sneaker festivals gave us valuable face to face time with the wider community. We invested to ensure we collected as much sneakerhead feedback as possible, asking hundreds of people about your designs! I can tell you, they absolutely loved them. We used the feedback to understand what they are looking for and specifically the concepts they would vote for. This was our main source to finally narrow to down to the top40.
Development agency - Every great design needs to be well thought out, and thankfully we have the contacts to look at designs holistically. What are great renders vs what are great sneakers is always a great question. We believe we can make all the shoes in the 850, except one, we so desperately wanted to (shoutout to @arsen.aldyngarov who produced a concept that would have to be grown in a coral reef - one day we will try it!) However, Alex Ward and the team helped to identify shoes that will look brilliant on foot as well as in the sketches.
Now, previously we had communicated that we would preselect 20 concepts and let the community pick the shoe they want to see on the shelves...
However, there were hundreds of concepts that could all knock big brands off the shelf. Alex Ward, our development partner who works with the renders from big and small fashion labels across the world, commented on just how good these concepts were as he reflected on the quality of renders he normally works with. So we just couldn't limit it to 20, we had to find a way to make the number as big as possible. We doubled up from 20 to 40, to the appreciation of the designers, and clearly with almost 10,000 votes in just 5days of voting, the wider sneaker community love it too!