In the footsteps of Shoes Style. Interview with the finalist of the international competition of footwear and accessories designers Alexander Grigoriev
05.06.2024 834

In the footsteps of Shoes Style. Interview with the finalist of the international competition of footwear and accessories designers Alexander Grigoriev

In April, an international competition for designers of shoes and accessories, Shoes Style, was held in Moscow, founded by the Russian State University. A.N. Kosygin, this university trains specialists in the field of footwear production - designers and technologists. One of the bright finalists of the competition was a student from the Russian State University. A.N. Kosygina Alexander Grigoriev, who presented a collection of men’s shoes called “Rust” on the Shoes Style catwalk. Yellow boots made of genuine leather, similar in appearance to classic models of avant-garde design, were highly appreciated by the competition jury.

Shoes Report talked to the winner about the collection, the competition, studying at the university and development in the profession.

Alexander Grigoryev Alexander Grigoryev - Finalist of the international shoe and accessories competition Shoes Style

Shoes Report: Alexander, please tell us why you decided to enroll at the Russian State University. Kosygin and became interested in the profession of shoe designer?

Alexander Grigoriev: I've been sewing since the fifth or sixth grade. Initially, for me it was one of the ways of creative self-expression - I like to dress beautifully, I want to look good, and at the same time the process itself is interesting. Closer to graduating from school, I realized that I would like to make this my profession. Entered. At our university, placement into majors occurs after the first semester. Most people rush to the sewing department, people pay attention to clothes more often, it’s somehow more common. I also initially applied for sewing, but ended up studying shoes, which I don’t regret at all.

You have now completed your third year, what are your impressions of the level of study at the university?

Due to the fact that this is, after all, higher education, we are taught not only subjects in our specialty. In the first year there were mathematics, physics, chemistry and other subjects that did not seem very necessary. As for subjects in the specialty, they teach everything you need to know. They give you a base from which you then emerge as a specialist and, probably, the main thing that really appeals to me is that the university provides a large platform for creativity. Here you can realize everything you have in mind with the support of teachers and with all the necessary equipment.

Shoe model from the “RUST” collection by Shoes Style winner Alexander Grigoriev Shoe model from the “RUST” collection by Shoes Style winner Alexander Grigoriev

You presented at the competition Shoes Style collection of men's shoes. How did you prepare it? The student designs, but who sews? Is all this carried out in the workshops of the University?

The degree of involvement in the process of creating shoes largely depends on the interest of the student himself. There were guys who did little sewing themselves and were mainly responsible for the design; there were those who didn’t show up in the workshop at all, but assembled everything completely somewhere at home, setting up something like workshops. But specifically, I developed the design at the beginning of the third year, in the fall, and showed it to the design teacher. We did all the work in terms of design, drawings, templates, everything was done. After that I came to the workshop.

I have three pairs of shoes in my collection. I was involved in the tailoring of each pair to varying degrees. That is, with the first pair, I was helped in many ways by a training master who performed complex technological operations that I myself would most likely have screwed up. I took part in sewing the second pair to a greater extent, and made the third pair almost entirely myself. They helped me a little with sewing the top, just so as not to waste extra time, because the deadlines were already running out.

What percentage did it turn out exactly as planned?

Everything turned out as planned. When there are specific drawings, it is unlikely that you will be led in any other direction. The final pair almost entirely depends on how accurately the model is designed, on the accuracy of the drawing, taking into account all the formulas, if this is the MTILP design system, or taking into account all the anatomical points of the foot and numerical parameters, if this is the design system of the Italian ARS-Sutoria school. If everything is taken into account and done carefully, then everything will work out.

What is the difference between the Italian and Russian systems?

These are two different design systems that are used to design footwear models. The Italian one is more geared towards manual production, and there may be much more flaws in terms of leather consumption, but its essence and advantage is that the designer works on the block, immediately sees the designed model in volume, draws all the details, makes adjustments if necessary, then spreads it out on a plane and then gives corrections. The MTILP design methodology was developed for industrial production, based on strict control of the consumption of materials and the mutual placement of parts, designed immediately on a plane, all on formulas and drawings. In this technique, the average development of the block is taken, it is transferred to a plane and drawings of parts are made on the plane, using a large number of formulas, rules and principles, the entire drawing of the model is developed, everything is cut out and assembled according to it. In general, these are just two approaches with their pros and cons, but slightly different.

Shoe model from the “RUST” collection by Shoes Style winner Alexander Grigoriev Shoe model from the “RUST” collection by Shoes Style winner Alexander Grigoriev

Do students release a collection every year?

This is optional. The goal is not for everyone to make a collection. Shoes Style takes place once a year. It is not forced, but is intended for those who want a little more than just to learn, but to somehow realize themselves and build a portfolio.

What kind of leather did you use for your collection?

This is chevro (goatleather) made in Turkey. Initially, I wanted to use kangaroo leather, because kangaroo leather has unique properties - thin, but at the same time very durable. I wanted to work with thin leather. But it is quite expensive, I had to find some kind of analogue, I chose goat leather.

Are there any stores where you can buy leather for three pairs of shoes?

Yes, there are quite a lot of stores, different in price category. There are large leather stores with a large selection, such as Tavro. There are more specialized ones for shoes like Speranza, where they sell a lot of parts for shoes, soles, heels, heels and everything you need, and they also have leather. There are some very small stores, for example “Russkaya Kozha” on Tulskaya, and another one in the same area - MilStil, which sells premium-segment goods, a lot of rare exotic leather, including kangaroo.

Do you spend your money on sewing a competition collection?

The university has a system of financial assistance to students studying on a budget. The Dean's Office of TITLP (Editor's note: Technological Institute of Textile and Light Industry) supports students making collections. Sewing one pair cost me 10 thousand rubles. This takes into account the fact that all sorts of small consumables - glue, nails, cork, all this was in the workshop, I did not pay for it. In total, I spent about 30 thousand rubles on the shoe collection.

Since you started learning shoe design, have you now decided on a style you like?

Yes, I am absolutely not interested in sports shoes and anything from the series of futurism and modern technologies. I feel good about it, but it’s just not my thing. I look more towards classic shoes, classic sewing and assembly techniques.

But your collection is still not quite a classic.

It is not classic in terms of shape, although in terms of design as a whole, the concept of the collection still refers to some old models. But these are classic shoes from a design standpoint. Ideally, during production I would like to use a welt fastening method, that is, piercing. The models in my collection are assembled using the glue method, but this is done only because if you immediately dive headlong into all the complexities of the production process, you can waste a lot of materials, waste a lot of time, etc. It is worth entering into it gradually. Therefore, the adhesive method was chosen, it is not so labor-intensive. But otherwise I have a stacked leather sole, a classic leather upper with lining, everything is done according to all the rules and shoe assembly technology.

Do you have any favorite brands?

It’s hard to say, regarding this work I received feedback about the similarity with the early collections of works by Boris Bidjan (Editor’s note: Boris Bidjan Saberi is a German designer, a representative of the avant-garde movement, the “new wave” of street fashion). I am also impressed by modern avant-garde classics - Guidi, Paul Harnden, the entire former Carpe Diem team: Maurizio Altieri, Maurizio Amadeus, Simone Chechetto. From a design point of view, this is avant-garde, but from a technical point of view, these are shoes that are assembled according to the principles that were used several centuries ago. This is especially true for Paul Harnden, whose leitmotif of all his creativity is the maximum departure into the past, starting from materials, ending with the design itself, approach and vision.

Is there a university course about shoe design, history, when all these names are named and their work is discussed?

These names are not mentioned specifically, because these are still representatives of a certain subculture, they are not so widely known. And so naturally there is the history of costume and fashion, the history of fashion houses. The course lasts two or three semesters and ends with an exam. Moreover, it is taught by different teachers, and these are, in fact, two different courses. There hasn’t been any deepening specifically into the history of shoes yet, perhaps in the fourth year. There is a separate subject “history of costume”, which examines costume and shoes from a historical and ethnic point of view - how fashion was born in Europe, how everything developed historically and what it resulted into.

Shoe model from the “RUST” collection by Shoes Style winner Alexander Grigoriev Shoe model from the “RUST” collection by Shoes Style winner Alexander Grigoriev

Are there many people on your course?

On the profile “Artistic modeling and digital design of leather products”, to put it simply – “shoe designers” there are two groups, on average 20 people each, that is, a total of 40 shoemakers in the direction 29.0.05 “Design of light industry products”. In our stream, the guys mainly study in the direction of 29.03.01/XNUMX/XNUMX “Technology of Light Industry Products”, they will become shoe technologists. I heard that many people go to technologists, assuming that there will be less drawing. They say that if there are any difficulties with visual things, it is better to enroll as a technologist. But according to my observations, they draw about the same amount as students in the design department. The programs are not much different. From the second to third courses, some differences appear in several subjects. Technologists study more industrial production, working with materials, and designing technological processes. But in general, the general base of subjects is the same, and it seems to me that after graduating from university, technologists can easily go to work as designers, and designers as technologists.

Should you have some good drawing skills initially? Probably, upon admission you need to submit a drawing?

In our direction (Ed. Note: Technological Institute of Textile and Light Industry) there is an internal entrance exam in composition. Here they train as designers and technologists for shoemakers, garment makers, and knitwear makers. But RSU named after. A.N. Kosygina is a system of institutes, the guys who enter the Institute of Design have several full-fledged exams in academic drawing, composition, and draw their heads. In our profession, this level of drawing is not required, so our exam is simpler - only composition. The exam lasts 120 minutes, they test not so much drawing skills, but simply creative abilities, the applicant’s ability to render colors and a sense of composition, as well as how much a person can pull himself together and produce a result in a short time under the necessary conditions.

So you don't have to graduate from art school?

Without it, it will be difficult in the first years, because there are subjects on which heads are drawn, academic drawing is taken... But we have guys who draw well, and there are those who draw poorly, but they are also treated fairly loyally, they are helped. Even if it is obvious that a student’s result is worse than the average level of the group, but he tries, he will not fail. The main thing is to try - everything will work out.

Do you still have two years left to study?

We have a bachelor's degree - that is, one more year. But I will go to graduate school. I'm still thinking about my specialty. I would like to enroll in 3D clothing modeling. If I'm not mistaken, we have such a specialty. Firstly, this is a separate profession, you can do this as a freelancer and earn money, and this will be useful in my specialty. But maybe I will continue to study in the shoe department.

What would you like as a result of your studies - to work in a company like Thomas Munz or do something of your own?

Globally, I would like to have something of my own, but I’m not eager to launch my own brand or open my own workshop. After training, I hope to go somewhere to work as a junior designer or assistant in some shoe workshops or brands, I will gain experience.

As a competition winner Shoes Style you received awards from sponsor companies, what were those prizes?

Several gift certificates for the purchase of materials, three companies offered internships. In one of them, at Thomas Munz, I will be interning for a month. Igor York donated leather with accessories, Veless Group donated a sewing machine. Thanks to all companies for their interest in the competition and support of participants.

What are you planning next – an internship at Thomas Munz, holidays, and then there are some ideas?

Next year - diploma collection. I will use the welt fastening method, I would like to introduce home-made fittings, work with the processing of fitting materials and upper materials. I recently discovered a pair of CDiem shoes in collaboration with WJK on the marketplace. Cordovan was used there (Editor's note: a type of processed leather that is made from horse haz). Usually the texture of cordovan is smooth and polished, but here there was something uneven, it turned out that the leather was treated using the SandWash method, which, as the name suggests, means that the top layers are removed by sandblasting, or in a special machine with sand, they spin for a very long time, after which the glossy coating peels off. It is very interesting to experiment with material and technology. I recently made a wallet for a loved one and worked immediately with boiled calf leather, without letting it cool, the result was a very original effect, the leather sat interestingly.

Will you be collecting shoes for the new collection yourself?

Of course!

Interview conducted by Marina Shumilina

In April, an international competition for designers of shoes and accessories, Shoes Style, was held in Moscow, founded by the Russian State University. A.N. Kosygin, this university teaches...
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