Home Entertainment The Story of GIVENCHY Creative Director Matthew M. Williams’ Shoe Creation | Sole Mates

The Story of GIVENCHY Creative Director Matthew M. Williams’ Shoe Creation | Sole Mates

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The Story of GIVENCHY Creative Director Matthew M. Williams’ Shoe Creation | Sole Mates

​Sole Mates is a brand new column of HYPEBEAST about sneaker culture. In this series, we will take the question of “Why do you love sneakers?” to explore the deeper meaning beyond “Hype”. Sole Mates will unravel each Sneakerhead participant’s origin story about the sneaker and let them explain why a pair of sneakers is so important.


The late designer Virgil Abloh’s success as Louis Vuitton’s Menswear Artistic Director confirmed that it was worth the risk for luxury brands to bet on someone with a solid understanding of “street culture”, and as the founder of 1017 ALYX 9SM Matthew M. Williams, the man, is equally eager to prove himself as GIVENCHY’s creative director.

Born in Pismo Beach, California, Williams grew up finding himself fascinated by skateboarding, basketball and sneakers. After dropping out of school as a teenager, Williams realized he wanted to make a difference in the fashion industry. Everyone must have heard of the experience after that: he joined the creative team Donda to work with Kanye West; styled Lady Gaga, and co-founded the DJ group and clothing Been Trill with Heron Preston and Virgil Abloh…

Jeremy French

Today, “MMW” has become a household name in the fashion industry. In addition to its rich experience, this is also due to its unique design language. Williams has a knack for combining Streetwear’s edgy and practicality with luxurious fabrics and tailoring, a delicate balance on display in his signature Rollercoaster Belt and Chest Rig Bag.

Aside from the achievements in fashion, sneakers have always been the core part of Williams’ “street” identity. During his growth, he experienced the full-scale explosion of Air Jordan and Nike sneakers in the 1990s, which created a special bond; now he focuses on creating “forward-looking” innovative products, such as his and Nike , or his TK-360 for GIVENCHY: a pair of all-knitted shoes with a modern, minimal silhouette.

The Story of GIVENCHY Creative Director Matthew M. Williams' Shoe Creation | Sole Mates

Jeremy French

In the latest issue of “Sole Mates”, we sat down with Williams to chat about his story with sneakers, including his favorite Nike shoes growing up, his deep friendship with Virgil Abloh, and how he brought his soul to life and emotion into the design of products such as the TK-360.

HYPEBEAST: Going back to the roots, what made you fall in love with sneakers?

Matthew M. Williams: What I want to say is, first of all, it was sports that exposed me to sneakers, especially basketball. Growing up, I was always a big fan of Michael Jordan and Penny Hardaway. The first pair of sneakers I remember was the Nike Dunk kids shoes my mother bought when I was very young, and I’ve been a fan of the brand ever since. When I was in elementary school, I always longed to have a new pair of sneakers and put them on during recess to play basketball.

Can you recall some of your favorite sneakers growing up?

Of course, I was obsessed with basketball shoes and those retro running shoes from the 90s, especially those huge fans of Air Jordan and the Foamposite line. My favorite pair of shoes I remember at the time was the Nike Air Max 97 “Silver Bullet”, which was also one of the most expensive sneakers I bought as a kid.

The Story of GIVENCHY Creative Director Matthew M. Williams' Shoe Creation | Sole Mates

Mmw

Did the sneaker, Streetwear culture at Pismo Beach influence you when you were growing up at Pismo Beach? Or do you primarily get influence from San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc.?

Yeah, I definitely got a lot of influence in LA and SF. I remember I used to go to San Francisco a lot to see records and CDs at stores like Amoeba Music, the FTC for the latest sneakers and streetwear, and True on Haight St. for more clothes like LRG and All these types of things.

What I’m trying to say is that maybe my earliest exposure to sneakers and streetwear was through basketball, but then it was through skateboarding that I developed a deeper understanding, because the stores I went to sponsored skaters I liked at the time, like Karl Watson. From then on, I found myself interested in the music that appeared in the skate videos, and what the skaters were wearing.

“Then I decided to drop out and start working for him, which I felt was a ‘calling’ in my heart, because I’ve never liked doing something so much.”

When did you realize you might be a designer?

I think I was 19 and my friend had a brand called Corpus, a denim brand, and it was 12 years older than me. I was a summer intern with him and fell in love with the process of making clothes from there.

Then I decided to drop out and start working for him, which I felt was a “calling” because I had never enjoyed doing something so much. While I’ve always heard about the clothing business, I didn’t really know how a piece of clothing was made or how the fashion industry worked before that, so that experience was really eye-opening. When I found out that this might be a career for me in the future, I made up my mind.

The Story of GIVENCHY Creative Director Matthew M. Williams' Shoe Creation | Sole Mates

Mmw

Virgil Abloh has been a close collaborator at all stages of your career. What does he mean to you in your personal life and design career?

He is a very special person and I love him so much. I’ve known him since I was 21, when he was a graphic designer at Good Music, and we started getting to know each other by working together for Pastelle. We have been good friends since then, working on different projects and traveling the world together. There is always a special bond between those who grew up and explored the world together.

He was at my wedding and we started our own brand at a similar time. There is only mutual love, support and respect between us and he is so talented and kind. There are endless good words to describe him as a person. It was a great honor for me to spend so much time with him, and at the same time, I miss him so much.

The Story of GIVENCHY Creative Director Matthew M. Williams' Shoe Creation | Sole Mates

Mmw

I’ve read many interviews with people who have worked with him and he always seems willing to go out of his way to advise others and help them in any way possible.

He is like a sponge, constantly absorbing knowledge and teaching himself anything. No matter the creative medium, he can perform well and he is the hardest working person I know. In addition, he is very personable in everything, and I have never seen him angry in my memory. To me he is like a “North Star” who helps and guides those around him to be an empathetic person and a great leader.

Can you share with us one of his most memorable advice to you?

“Just to have fun.” He always reminds us to have fun, to be grateful for what we’re doing and where we’ve come from, and to enjoy the moment we’re in.

“He always reminds us to have fun, to be grateful for what we’re doing and where we’ve come from, and to enjoy the moment we’re in.”

You spend most of your design career in New York and all over Europe, such as Italy and Paris, etc. How do the energies differ between these destinations, and how do they affect your work?

It’s hard to describe the feeling of flying around, but I consider myself lucky. When I met Kanye and started working with him, I got the opportunity to travel the world with him. Before Instagram became popular, every city had a real subculture, with different fashion styles, different clubs, and different music. It was really inspiring to explore the world in those formative years, when I was in my early 20s, and I was able to forge relationships in all the countries and cities I visited, and those relationships provided an amazing source for me to start ALYX later. support. Whether it’s Tokyo, Italy, London or Paris, I have tons of memories. Because we’ve spent so much time working in these places, I feel at home every time I go to these cities.

The Story of GIVENCHY Creative Director Matthew M. Williams' Shoe Creation | Sole Mates

Mmw

As for New York, it was the first place I moved to when I was 20, so it will always have a special place in my heart. I think this city feels most like “home” to me, the people in this city are always full of energy and always so inspiring. As we experience life, those imprints from experience stay with us, although it is hard to say what it does to us.

How do you feel you have grown as a designer since being appointed creative director of GIVENCHY?

I think my biggest growth is learning to work with the amazing team here. As you keep honing a skill or taking on more and more tasks, you will naturally get better. Therefore, since I started designing for ALYX and Nike, and now I have added GIVENCHY’s work, I have faced more and more design “tasks”, and at the same time I have grown more and more.

Let’s talk about your “Sole Mates” GIVENCHY TK-360, what’s it like to see it change from a design draft to a real thing?

It was a wonderful feeling because we went into uncharted territory and tried the concept of using knitwear to make soles. This was the concept and idea I came up with at a design meeting when we were doing all the fabric testing and one of them was a combination of knitwear with a 3D printed soccer sole to help you gain more control when you kick the ball.

“My experience working with Nike is that it usually takes 19 months to create a pair of shoes, but these shoes are done in seven months, so it’s much faster.”

I’ve used TPU yarns in shoe designs in the past, but more often for pressing the sides of the shoe to give the shoe some water resistance. Then it occurred to me that this 3D printed part is actually quite strong, so I wanted to strengthen the yarn and add some real resistance to the sole to better bond with the protruding particles of the sole.

Then we talked to the vendors to see if we could come up with a way to make this happen, so we didn’t know until a few weeks before the launch if it was possible. My experience working with Nike is that it usually takes 19 months to create a pair of shoes, but these shoes are done in 7 months, so it’s a lot faster.

At the streetwear level, you’re recognized for designing products that have a functional and tactical feel, but a different design language is used on this shoe, as it’s sleeker and simpler in silhouette. What do you think has been achieved with this new shoe?

I love the feeling that we created a whole new silhouette and found a new way to make shoes. It is also a very comfortable shoe, which I wear a lot myself. I love shoes that add color to my overall look, as I usually like to wear simple clothes and pair them with oddly shaped shoes.

As technology improved, people began to use similar materials to make similar shoes. But for this design, I’m really proud that we managed to create a shoe from just one material. The cool thing about exploring new ways to make shoes is that we have a lot of room for experimentation to create new things. It’s the same concept as creating images, now that 3D scanning and printing are coming of age, we just have to keep exploring how to use it, and exploring new technologies is always something that excites me.

Are there any plans to bring this technology to high-top sneakers or women’s shoes in the future?

The answer is yes, we will arrange more designs to meet with you in future conferences.

You’ve said in the past that you want your product to have soul and emotion. What is your personal feeling when you see these shoes?

For me the soul, emotion and warmth of everything comes from the tension between the artificial and the natural, like pairing an old faded T-shirt with a pair of technical pants. Coming back to this shoe, I think the yarn creates a warm feel, but the silhouette of the shoe doesn’t feel cold due to the tension of the shape, which is what gives it soul and emotion.

Also, when you design a product, you can expect it to have several different life cycles, right? At first it was just a concept, then the shoe was actually created, and then it would appear in the Lookbook and be applied to styling… However, when it was really launched to the market, it ushered in a new life cycle, because they began to What it means to people in the real world, and how they accompany their lives.

The Story of GIVENCHY Creative Director Matthew M. Williams' Shoe Creation | Sole Mates

Mmw

The final question is why are sneakers and the stories they carry important to you?

I think it’s really interesting to tell a story through design. I like to understand how things are made and why they are made, and I guess it just comes from the way I like to consume fashion. Ever since I was a child, I have loved trying to understand the stories of designers and the origins of products, this information not only interested me and my friends, but also developed the habit of having a lot of conversations before designing. I enjoy having discussions with those around me, such as suppliers and the teams I work with.

Ultimately, those conversations about “why the design should exist” are a very important starting point before you start a design.

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