Sneaker Politics & Saucony Create Sweet Footwear in the Heart of New Orleans
“Bring your appetite…”
Blaine McGowan (@oleblaine), Product Designer for Sneaker Politics, remarks when thinking about the newest release for the Louisiana based boutiques newest collaboration.
For those unaware, Sneaker Politics took to social media Monday to announce their latest collaborative project. The project brought together the Sneaker Politics design team, Saucony, and Nola’s infamous Café Du Monde for a beignet inspired release.
“For me, good design comes from telling a good story. For this project, we were eating Café Du Monde everyday at work; grabbing to-go orders of beignets and eating them out (in front) of the shop’, McGowan said of the organic inspiration that sparked the project. “For us it just made sense to tell their story on a shoe. Once that idea is there, more ideas begin to flow, and the concept is able to grow organically. For me that’s the best part of being a designer.”
Located in the historic French Quarter section of New Orleans, Café Du Monde is a city landmark. Since its inception in 1862, the café has been nearly world-renowned for it’s chicory blended coffee, café au lait, and it’s French-derived, powdered sugar-coated trios of beignets. With its massive open-air layout, Du Monde serves as a 24 hour a day local staple and tourist attraction. From Sneaker Politics New Orleans location, the café is a short 7-minute streetcar or 9-minute stroll away, making the simpatico relationship of the two brands natural, and nearly inevitable. “As locals it’s easy to turn your nose up to "tourist attractions" but if you've ever had fresh beignets you know that shit is tasty whether you live here or not”, gushed McGowan.
It would seem rather obvious that Saucony would be the place to bring any food-related footwear aspirations, but it was more happenstance than intent that brought them into the picture. “We were already working with Saucony on a few other projects, so this was an easy fit”, Blaine says of their involvement. “Saucony is great about storytelling freedom. ‘Go run with it’ was basically their input on the concept.”
McGowan put his ideas to work fearlessly, “As far as collaborating with Café Du Monde, I just figured, ‘What's the worst they could tell me, No?’ I did some googling and found their upper management offices and walked up with some of our original sketches and pitched the idea. They loved it! So, the project began.”
“We have worked on this project for almost two years. some things just take time and that’s okay. I would have to say my biggest personal challenge was sourcing materials from New Orleans and not being in the factories to see and feel the materials in person”, describes McGowan of the creation of the project. “Things look different through a computer screen so there were quite a few samples that extended the design process time.” Along with designing the footwear for the Du Monde collaboration, McGowan was intimately involved with curating a full collection. Detailing the Café’s story in each piece was time-consuming but also necessary. “Companies are putting out a lot of products but failing to put any substance behind these products. It's become all based on Instagram influencers posting images to boost sales”, McGowan says, bemoaning the current state of the fashion market. “I’m having our workers wear the Café Du Monde uniforms for the release”, he chuckles, “They thought it was stupid, but it really just helps to reinforce the storytelling and bring the concept to life”.
Ultimately, the collaboration with Saucony resulted in two shoes that the Politics design team just couldn’t choose between, “One shoe just made more sense story-wise, while the other shoe was just aesthetically better”. Knowing the creative flexibility and freedom offered by Saucony, Blaine says it wasn’t too difficult to convince them to produce both shoes; one in a limited “Friends & Family” iteration and the other for a wider public release.
The result of the two years of work on the Café Du Monde project has resulted in two shoes and a thoroughly curated apparel collection available on Saturday, June 22nd exclusively at the Sneaker Politics New Orleans location. Two Shadow 5000 models in a beignet reminiscent brown and white. The first pair dubbed “Beignet/Powdered Sugar” will be sold in-store on a first come first serve basis, while the second “Friends and Family” pair dubbed “Powdered Sugar/Beignet” will be available to the first 157 people in line to commemorate the 157 years of Café Du Monde’s existence. Stay tuned to Sneaker Politics site for a possible only release of remaining stock.