A few weeks ago, Beckett Fine ‘20 participated in a course at the Shoe Surgeon School in New York, where his design ultimately won the competition. The prize? Beckett’s shoes were remade on a professional scale and sold on the Shoe Surgeon website! As the youngest participant and only teenager in the program, Beckett designed and constructed his own shoe during the four day long course. Surrounded by a group of thirty-five to forty year-olds, he worked nearly twelve hours days. The Shoe Surgeon School, based in Los Angeles, was founded by Dominic Ciambrone who wanted to learn how to make sneakers from scratch. Ciambrone grew frustrated by how unwilling people in the shoe industry were to share their tricks, wanting to keep them secret and not let more people in. Eventually, he found some shoemakers who were willing to show him and now he runs the school to give other people this same opportunity. The school aims to inspire creativity, contribute to the fashion industry, and provide experience for people interested in fashion. Currently, his school runs classes all over the world, including locations such as Los Angeles, New York, and Paris. All around the globe Dominic Ciambrone continues to foster people’s love for fashion, helps them create a unique sneaker, and gives them an opportunity to have it professionally produced.
Beckett’s love for sneakers began around three years ago. As his mother was a model when he was younger, Beckett grew up around fashion and had always been interested in taking things apart to see how they were built. After finding the class on social media platforms such as Youtube and Instagram, he quickly bought a spot in the program so that he could take the class over spring break. Beckett and his fellow shoe surgeons worked from 8am to 6pm everyday, with a short lunch break.
The actual process of building your own shoe starts with deconstructing an original shoe to understand what it’s made up of. Then one cuts out all the stitchings and take the sole out of the shoe, allowing you to see all of the parts. At this point, the students began to make their own design, guided by their deconstruction, by tracing the features of the original shoe onto new materials and patterns. Once all these pieces have been cut out, the glueing and sewing starts, where several different pieces of plastic and foam pieces are included throughout to help structure the shoe. The final and most rewarding step is to the glue the sole into the shoe.
During the course, the school does not put much emphasis on the competition. The focus is not meant to be on winning something, but rather enjoying and focusing on the process and the experience of being there. Signing up automatically enters participants into the competition and once the shoe is finished, the school takes pictures of each design to collect votes via their social media pages. Beckett’s shoe, titled Purple Rain, ended up winning. He was able to have his shoe produced by professionals and have it sold on the Shoe Surgeon School website. In addition to the course introducing him to a number of great people he would never have crossed paths with, the course also showed him the path he wants to take in the fashion world and gave him real experience of what it takes.