a conversation with andrew thompson of fable footworks

Made you look eh? These are a pair of Clark's commissioned for Fable Footworks as part of design research by artist Caramarie Piazza:

"I personally interested in various methods of upcycling and reinventing pre-loved items and I love Caramaries work. She's a genius."
- Andrew Thompson, Founder of Fable Footworks

We spoke to Andrew Thompson who runs Fable Footworks - a design and trend agency with podcast alongside. One of the few BAME faces in the footwear industry we speak about technology, opening the doors of opportunity and how footwear can be more sustainable.

In your own words, what does footwear fables do?

Andrew Thompson: Fable Footworks is a consultancy to help brands creatively bridge the gap between commerciality, social impact and sustainability. We do design and innovation consulting studio working with companies to provide product design, creative/innovation strategy, forecasting and insights communication.

I started [podcast] Footwear Fables because I wanted to provide insights in creativity to stimulate creative minds through different disciplines and narratives. I might interview people that I've worked with or come across in my working practice, a lot of the storytelling aspects of what I think about are triggered from practical experience. So really thinking about how to navigate the way that we produce products for the future. I'm always asking myself the question of how can the audience be more involved in the narratives that we create?

Footwear Fables podcast has had some incredible guests including Tull Price of Feit and Stephanie Howard of HOW & WHY

The Footwear Fables are siiiick with some big names in there. What's your mission with them?

It was totally organic in looking for positive ways to engage during a difficult period of isolation. I used this as an extension of my Footwear consultancy where I just wanted to and continue conversations I have around creative direction, social impact, sustainability and innovation within the industry.

Fable Footworks advocates sharing narratives and empowering all creatives (inclusively) by learning and seeking solace in familiarity. My view is there is great power in creativity, it pulls people together whatever you're going through. I think with the new way of living and working we all seek and crave new connectivity, I like the thought of building up individuals and communities to share/collaborate and help each other - this is the foundation of my business.

Is there anything that you're working on at the moment that you can let us know?

One really good podcast I have coming up soon is with a super creative and legend in the sneaker community who is doing amazing things to level the playing field when it comes to inequality within the sportstech industry. I will continue to raise awareness with various exciting projects I am not able to disclose yet and will be using my platform across different channels going forward. There's not a lot of representation of black footwear designers through to c suite [executive board types] managers particularly in the UK, I think there should be more visibility and transparency around that. I have an open door to mentorship and recently I have given talks to Central St Martins cohort students. This is something that I very much enjoy and will continue in the future.

A shot from an interview with Yogi Footwear that Andrew did, finish this one first though if you don't mind

Footwear is obviously dominated by a few names, is it easy for people to break into the industry?

It’s frustrating because you can have an ultra creative mind and a brilliant idea to start a footwear brand, but it’s the manufacturing side which can be the most difficult part if you don’t have the knowledge also the level of investment can be inordinate (excluding sampling costs, sole moulds and marketing). A lot of clothing brands tend to collaborate with the big names in the industry these days as it's a more economical and sustainable way to push their brand DNA through footwear lens.

Have you been a sneakerhead in the past?

I had that need for uniqueness and the desirability of it.The whole game has changed now, people are so lucky. I come from an era the latest drop had to be seen in the flesh and the whole aspect of it now so just so immediate and getting drops online and it's globalised. Going to different spots like New York in the 90s was just amazing to try to get like the rarest colour ways or the rarest drops - I was obsessed.

Excerpts from Pre Loved Fables - a feature which spotlights faces in the footwear industry's attitude to repairing and buying vintage

What do you make of the Nike Space Hippie?

I really loved the concept. I wish they would do more of it. The bigger the brand the harder it is to have a lower impact, smaller brands generally have better energy, water conservation as they aren’t producing as much. Conversely bigger brands have the budgets to create BIG innovative solutions, and not just settle for creating a version of what everyone else is doing. A lot of the time when these projects take years to gestate and launch they really change the face of shoe manufacturing.

Okay, so 3d printing, rapid prototyping versus Goodyear welt and leather soles. Do you think there's room for them to like coexist?

I think there's definitely room to coexist. 3-D printing is a slow process so still isnt a scalable commercial route to fully manufacture. On the other hand we could be thinking of new ways of doing things and pushing the envelope with ideas, especially around customisation and tailoring the wearers needs. I think that's what we'll see going forward in one form or another. With IG and the whole data driven design and digitalization, it’s the future whether we like it or not and I'm sure we'll see more hybridisation and things coming together in that way for sure - old world techniques for a modern era.


Fable Footworks on Instagram

Footwear Fables podcast
Fable Footworks website

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