“I’m always looking at the construction of shoes and thinking of ways to simplify the process,” says Damian Van Zyll de Jong of People Footwear. “Re–creating shoes we know and love and making them better.” Formerly of Native Shoes, Damian has this week launched People Footwear exclusively at Kith NYC. This period leads up to the anticipated arrival of People nationwide on Friday April 10, when the brand’s complete line of shoes will be available for the first time in North America. Putting a focus on comfort, People have, among other things, worked with an innovative weaving technique, DreamKnit, to create digitally knitted uppers for their Stanley model. Usually reserved for high tech running shoes, this creates a breathable, lightweight and durable construction for the simple summer sneaker.
As well as introducing People Footwear to the U.S. market, Kith is selling an exclusive all–white, limited edition colorway in the Stanley Knit and Phillips Knit styles for the summer season starting May 1. We caught up with Damian to get a better understanding of what People Footwear is.
What inspired People Footwear?
Really it was to do something I loved — shoes, travelling the world and working with like–minded people. It was through these ideas that I came up with the name People Footwear. With this brand it isn’t just about selling shoes but also about the amazing humans around us that inspire and motivate creativity within our global community.
I’m always looking at the construction of shoes and thinking of ways to simplify the process. Re–creating shoes we know and love and making them better. Our offering of shoes feature classic styling, innovative materials, and are ultra–comfortable. High performance leisure is the concept which drives the creative design process. We use techniques and materials commonly found in technical athletic shoes and adapt them for casual silhouettes.
Do you feel there’s a gap in the in the market for what you’re doing with People?
The shoe industry can feel very stagnate and I do feel like People Footwear is bringing something fresh to the table. Light–weight, breathable materials, fresh colors, cushy footbeds, all these elements make our shoes unique. Our pricing is accessible and we’re not going after just one type of consumer. We are releasing our kids collection this upcoming fall and that is going to open up a lot of exciting opportunities for the brand. Once you put a pair on there is no denying that they are more comfortable than anything else.
We’re super interested in DreamKnit. What are the possibilities with this component?
The Phillips and Stanley Knit feature our DreamKnit upper which utilizes digital knitting, only seen in high–tech running shoes. When this technique was released I was so inspired by the possibility of what could be done with it. It really is the future of shoe making. I looked high and low to find a supplier with the capabilities and know how–to make the ideas in my head become a reality. We are blessed to be working with one of the leaders of this construction technique and I really look forward to seeing how this technology evolves. It’s still super fresh in the industry so there are new improvements and ideas coming out all the time.