Contemporary menswear designer Christian Kimber is in Auckland this week to coincide with the launch of his footwear line at Gubb & Mackie. Born and raised in London and now based in Australia, Kimber’s focus for his footwear and accessories has always been around quality and craftsmanship as well as being at the forefront of design.
This Saturday October 31, Gubb & Mackie’s flagship store at 35b Vulcan Lane, Auckland City, will be hosting a pop-up event from 10am – 5pm where Christian Kimber will meet with customers to showcase his new collection and help fit them with the perfect sneaker from his latest collection. To celebrate the launch, Fashion Quarterly caught up with the designer to talk all things sneakers – past and present.
FQ: What was your inspiration behind the sneaker collection currently being stocked at Gubb & Mackie?
Christian Kimber: We like to say that every pair has a story, every detail a purpose. So you might see the hint of a wave in the pattern of a sneaker (a lot of these patterns are based on surf beaches), or the reflection of a Melbourne laneway in the back heal. My intention is for the footwear to be relevant beyond the quality of the shoe, I want the wearer to understand the inspiration and know the story behind each pair. Ultimately my goal was to create such beautifully made shoes that they would work with anything you wear. Handmade with love in Spain or Italy, each shoe is classically constructed and leather-lined for the utmost quality and comfort.
Have you always been a fan of sneakers? Did you go through the same sneaker phases that we all did – Reebok Freestyles, Nike Dunks and Checkerboard Vans,or has your style always been more refined?
My sneaker journey was quite different growing up in the south of England. I went through the standard skater phase as a teenager, in wide denim and Checkerboard Vans, band tees and Reebok classics. I remember my dad getting me a pair of bright white Nike Air Max’s in London at about 13 and thinking I was the coolest. At school I was obsessed with soccer boots mostly, the Adidas Predator – I had those in two colours. I used to clean them after every use with leather polish, my step-mum always talks about it haha. I got into more classical shoes as I became more interested in fashion. At University I was really taken by Dries Van Noten shoes, I would go to the shoe department and just try them on even though I couldn’t afford them. When I moved to London I became interested in the more classical bench made footwear manufacturers, but sneakers have always been a part of my life as I have learnt about different clothing genres.
Is there a particular person or era that you keep going back to in terms of sneaker-spiration?
I try not to look at too many sneakers at the moment as it can effect my sketches for new patterns, I like to focus on more abstract shapes for the inspiration instead. I have reinterpreted some of the classics though, such as the Vans Slip-on. With respect to those classics I have added my inspiration to make them my own.
The Nike MAG though, I would pay seriously crazy money for that and just put it on my mantle – although my lovely girlfriend might have something to say about that. I am an 80’s kid, that movie (Back to the Future) effected my generation more than you can imagine. I still buy other peoples shoes some times which is a problem as I probably shouldn’t, last week I picked up the Yeezy Boost 350’s – I just want to keep them and never wear them.
Your sneaker collection is very high end, but some workplaces may still take issue with the casual-side of this style of footwear. What are your tips for dressing up your sneakers to make them acceptable for the workplace?
Sneakers may not be acceptable in some work places, but I have a background in classical menswear so perhaps I wear them a little differently which might help you. I guess it depends where you work. If you want to wear them to work, invest in a simple pair which will still look elegant. However if you work in finance – forget it.
When trying on any kind of footwear in store, what should we look for to know we’re getting the right fit?
Get your feet measured before you try anything on. In my experience chaps have an identity crisis when you ask them what size they wear, if you’re a 7, just wear a 7. A lot of the time I have taken dudes a size or two down, especially in dress shoes. There can be a bit of confusion, perhaps because people use their sneaker size for classics.
Interview by: Lucy Slight