With all industries being pushed to reinvent and transform to meet a future that does not play by the old rules, Sri Lanka’s leather and footwear industry too, is keen for learning opportunities that can help fast-forward their evolution to match tomorrow’s demands. Facilitating this shift, AOD hosted the international footwear specialist Joanne Stoker from the UK at its ‘Design Wire’ monthly mini-conference held to shed light on the intervention of design in modern footwear. The session was attended by footwear industry leaders, local media, design professionals and young students. With ‘design’ being recognised as the most essential modern value addition for industries like footwear, opportunities such as this to instil new knowledge and creative learning for its professionals have become more important than ever before.
Footwear is a consumer product that has increasing demand parallel to the growth of disposable incomes, urbanisation, changing lifestyles with a bigger focus on health and fitness, retail takeover by e-commerce, etc. However, research shows that it is not any kind of footwear that will answer to this growing demand; the footwear consumer preferences are also changing fast; and without the industry preparing itself to meet these new demands it will not be able to harness the said growth potential fully.
This is why it becomes important for the footwear and leather industry to reinvent itself fast, in order to remain relevant. It was to contribute to this journey that AOD’s ‘Design Wire’ talk series hosted Joanne Stoker – the British footwear designer and entrepreneur who is an award-winning MA graduate in footwear from London College of Fashion’s Cordwainers. Stoker has also won the ‘First Into Fashion Award’ headed by the legendary footwear designer Jimmy Choo and fashion editor at large Melanie Rickey, and the Footwear Friends Award, sponsored by the British Footwear Association, as well as being a finalist in the ITS International Competition in Italy.
In her Design Wire session, Stoker covered topics such as the importance of design in footwear, the gain in popularity of handcrafted footwear, importance of good materials for comfort and quality, new techniques and innovations such as 3D printed heels as well as the timely topics of sustainability in footwear with recycling materials, designing for markets, design vs technology, the new idea of luxury and trend cycles. Her fresh creativity and sense of adventure when approaching footwear design, and her insights on design lead innovation through her training, proved to be highly valuable throughout her session at AOD’s Design Wire.
The footwear industry has significant potential to be a key contributor to Sri Lanka’s economy. Major export markets for Sri Lankan footwear are Italy, UK and France, and other European Union countries. The industry continues to consolidate these existing markets while looking to enter emerging markets.
Amidst design professionals, media and young designers, the session was also attended by the footwear industry veterans who stated that the session was interesting and informative and showed interest to collaborate with Joanne Stoker and AOD in the future. The leather and footwear industry’s interest in design and reinvention at AOD’s Design Wire series embodies how the industry is keen to embrace change and harness its momentum as we enter an age of shifting dynamics. With a reputation built on product reliability, sustainability of quality and skilled workmanship, the Lankan leather and footwear industry has great potential to grow into a regional leader with its own signature style, quality and material identity.
AOD’s unique combination of academic training, hands on studio time, exposure to design inspiration and global opportunities is what makes the AOD designer a one of a kind creative pro. Over the past decade, AOD has established itself as the most trusted partner for design-led industries in Sri Lanka and abroad. AOD believes that design can change the world and good design education is where it all starts.
AOD’s exposure to design inspiration and global opportunities is what makes the AOD designer a one of a kind creative pro. Over the past decade, AOD has established itself as the most trusted partner for design-led industries in Sri Lanka and abroad. AOD believes that design can change the world and good design education is where it all starts.
The Design Wire talk series will continue every month at AOD in collaboration with the British Council and Daily FT, and aims to provide a continuous platform for creative thought leadership that benefits brands, businesses and entrepreneurs as well as designers and other creative professionals. For more information and inquiries on the next session of Design Wire, reach AOD on 011 5867772 or visit AOD at 29, Lauries Road, Colombo 04.