KZ- How long have you been in the footwear industry?
M.B.- I Went to Monfort University in the UK, in 2005 and graduated in 2008. I worked for New
Balance for a year doing there tier 1 and 2 products. I moved to GSTAR-RAW and have been
here since 2009, so on a whole around 5 years in footwear.
KZ- G-Star has a unique style. Was it difficult to adapt to their style or you were already a
customer before applying?
M.B.- I was mainly a sports footwear designer, and worked on only sports classics and retro styles at
New Balance. Now, because of G-Star, due to the crossover of different styles in the range we
have, I work on men's formal footwear to military boots, and also sports footwear, from Vulcs to
The general style of working is to try and create classic footwear with a twist on G-star's DNA,
using the best denims and other top class fabrics.
KZ- Are you working alone or is there a whole team developing the footwear line?
M.B.- I work alongside a team of 5 amazing designers, all from different backgrounds and we work
very close together. From step 1 to the final collection.
KZ- Are you also involved in the clothing line or is it two separate teams?
M.B.- The clothing line has a massive influence on the range, from color, logos and general style
direction from clothing. All of these factors along with keys footwear trends. But the clothing is
designed from a separate team based in Amsterdam.
KZ- Entering the market, did you feel your studies in footwear prepared you well for every aspect
of the job?
M.B.- Yes and No. It gave you a decent insight into how to make footwear and how to design
footwear, and the terminology of the footwear world. But working 9 to 5, as a designer, you will
learn 100 times more in a year than you will 3/4 years at university.
KZ- When travelling, what do you look for? Do you shop for anywhere else than the footwear
stores to get inspired?
M.B.- When doing research trips, I don't like looking at shoes. I like looking at people, fabrics, clothing
and the place I'm visiting. I think going places and going into stores works fine if you’re looking
at the construction of shoes and maybe fabrics and color.
I find Berlin is the place for vintage sports footwear, London for vintage boots, Istanbul for Color,
Paris for fashion and women's shoes and Tokyo for crazy shit you won't find anywhere else. If
you’re doing a trip in Europe, do London, Paris, Berlin and finish in Istanbul. That gives you a
look at Northern Europe to Southern Europe and West to East.
KZ- What, in your opinion, is the leading brand of footwear, the one that you feel is always a step
M.B.- For me, right now in sports footwear, I would say Vans. They are smashing the market to pieces,
and are coming up with amazing OTW styles in recent months.
For men's formal footwear, Dries Van Noten. I just like the brand; I like the simple lines and the
execution of the final products.
KZ- Have you had the chance to go in the factories in Asia? What do you think needs
improvement in the way we work with Asia?
M.B.- Yes, and factories in China can be really bad, and also really good. If you can work with a top
class factory in China, you’re laughing. To make sure you get good samples, you just have to go
there and watch it from start to finish and make sure it’s being done correctly, at every step. If
they are your designs, only you can make sure it comes out at the end.
KZ- What’s your best way to read trends? Would you say runways, people watching, blogs
M.B.- Reading trends - Go to coolest areas of a major city. You will find them if you have a decent eye
for it. For example, anyone could have gone to brick lane a year ago, and see a lot of people
Runways - look at them for inspiration, nothing more.
People Watching - Again, go to coolest areas of a major city, sit there and take photos of people.
This was a major research tool at New Balance; we would do this for a full day.
KZ- Trends are moving fast, as well as the micro ones. What is the upcoming one you really dig?
M.B.- Creepers – because I find them vile. It’s also the fact that people actually are wearing them,
which I think is funny.
The next trend will be Acid House in a natural progression- an early 1990's sportswear. I'm
looking forward to that one; expect it around Summer 2013.
KZ- Is it just me or men’s footwear as never been that exciting in terms of selection and
M.B.- In the aspect of men's formal footwear, it all has been done before, nothing is actually new. But
it’s how you create a shoe and how it is finished, and at what price. That's the challenge.
KZ- So you buy a sports shoe for when you’re active, a casual one to wander around and a clean
one for a special event. What would be your top choice in each of these styles?
M.B.- Running Shoe - New Balance Minimus Zero
Sport Casual - Puma Suede, red classics with white Puma logo.
Wedding/dinner out - Paul Smith Brogues. Maybe navy ones.
Boots - Trickers, Tan leather - Storm Welted with a leather sole.
KZ- You live in London. What’s the best spot to shop if you have one day to run around?
M.B.- Covent Garden, Brick Lane, Dover Street Market, Selfridges and Soho.
KZ- Any latest discoveries in the sneaker business? A brand to spread the word about?
M.B.- LASCO. Just try and find out for yourselves what them guys are doing. Its fucking Amazing.