We loved these buoy-inspired sneakers the second we saw them, and we knew we wanted to get the story. So, we sat down with our designer, Kristin Young, to get the rundown on this new shoe for spring.
What was the inspiration behind the buoy pack?
As a resident of a coastal New England town, I’m always inspired by the nautical striping and bright/bold color mixing of the shoreline lobster buoys. Each buoy is painted differently, so the licensed owner can identify their traps as well as offer bold markings that stand out as a boating navigational tool.
Sperry is a lifestyle brand, with heritage deeply rooted to the sea, so I always look for fresh, nautical inspiration that will creatively translate to our seasonal product collections. The buoys always catch my eye and graphically stand out against the dark blue sea.
Why did you choose the Crest Vibe as your canvas?
I love the Crest Vibe. It’s a cute, versatile sneaker that is easy to wear, comfortably fits a broad range of our Sperry consumers, and naturally lends itself to be a great canvas for our seasonal prints and materials.
What are some of the nautical objects that stood out to you when exploring your hometown?
In addition to the everyday visual nautical cues (such as buoys, fishnets, lobster traps, driftwood, sailboats, sails, anchors, cleats, and rope), my Massachusetts hometown has a history rich in visual maritime America.
It is the birthplace of the United States Navy, dating back to the Revolutionary War, as well as served as a major port of call for trading, fishing, and boating, from the 1630s settlers to modern day.
In the late 19th century, it also experienced a boom in the shoemaking industry, which also offers a unique look into footwear-making from a previous time.
We love the vibrant colors on these shoes... they definitely stand out from other Sperry styles! How did you decide on this color palette?
I was influenced by the bold colors of the buoys against the dark, yet neutral, color of the sea and applied this formula to all three styles.
Additionally, one of our Sperry trend palettes for Spring 2018 was called, “Go Coastal,” which took cues from coastal port towns like Positano, Italy or along the Amalfi Coast, where the houses and structures vibrantly live against the neutral colors of the land and sea.
Do you often find inspiration so close to home?
Absolutely! Luckily, I live in an area where I not only live the lifestyle but am influenced by the Sperry consumers and nautical elements on a daily basis.
Where else do you search for inspiration when designing Sperry product?
It depends on the type of construction and season that I am working on, but generally, I love trend shopping in bold cities like LA and Tokyo, because they offer such a diverse and relaxed arrangement, from street to high fashion as well as forward-thinking uses of color, materials, and unique accents.
I also look to the world online for global influence because it is all at your fingertips. But, between the two, my preference is brick-and-mortar shopping because it allows you to personally interact with consumers and actually see what they gravitate toward.
Describe your process. How do you translate environmental cues into graphic designs that make their way onto Sperry shoes?
First and foremost, our influences need to be filtered through the Sperry lens. Does it make sense for the brand? Once I land on a new idea that's Sperry relevant, I start playing around with the concept in CAD (aka illustration) form until I find a solution that is balanced and visually appealing.
For the three buoy-inspired styles, I chose the Crest Vibe as my palette and wanted to create a collection that would sit together, for story-telling, but that could also live separately. For the navy style, I applied the nautically-colored buoy striping to create a visual toe cap, and then accented those colors onto the lace. On the grey style, I wanted to offer a softer buoy color option with a bolder strip application that wrapped over the shoe and included the sidewall foxing (that's on the outer edge of the sole). On the white style, my influence was a combination of the bright buoy coloring blended with a piece of painted driftwood. I translated this graphic element only to the sidewall foxing to keep this style clean and easy to wear.
How do you plan on styling this shoe for the season?
These three styles have such a bold use of color and graphic striping that I will probably keep my outfit pretty classic; t-shirt and cuffed jeans. I’d want the shoes to be my statement.
What’s next? Have you noticed anything this winter that you’ll be thinking about for future Sperry collections?
The Sperry design team is not only influenced by the forward-thinking fashion trends of each season, but we are also strongly aware of the functional consumer needs of our products. We try to ensure a collection that is visually exciting and brand-relevant, comfort- and function-driven, as well as offers our consumers an ease-of-wear. As far as specifics, you’ll just have to wait and see …