It’s my pleasure to introduce, Solene Roure as the newest member of the ConceptKicks Contributors – a group of current footwear designers and innovators creating their own path within the footwear industry and sharing their journey along the way.
I’ve personally known Solene for a little over a year, having met her and Ben Read over a self-indulgent coffee and breakfast in Shoreditch, after finding out that Primury was a London based brand. Since then, I’ve had countless interactions and in-depth conversations with Solene, in London’s cafes, at Paris’ fashion weeks and Milan tradeshows, and thought it made sense that she utilizes the ConceptKicks platform to share her thoughts, opinions and journey.
To give you some insight into Solene’s background, in 2005, she was hired by Aaron Cooper as Nike’s first international design intern. Subsequently, she became the first official sneaker designer for Louis Vuitton. After the success of Kanye West’s shoes, Louis Vuitton needed a designer dedicated to sneaker design exclusively. To date, Solene has worked and collaborated with over 25 major brands in the fields of sport, fashion and tech industry, spread across a dozen countries.
See the interview below to get to know Solene, discover her journey and her future plans working with ConceptKicks.
Photography (above): Jaja Hargreaves
SR: My name is Solene Roure. I’m a footwear and accessories design consultant from Paris, France and based in London, UK. I have close to 15 years of experience designing for some of the biggest sport and fashion brands worldwide (including Nike, Louis Vuitton and Alexander Mcqueen etc…) I’m one of four partners as well as the designer of the brand Primury: an exciting and innovative unisex premium footwear brand launched in 2014. (You can find us in Dover Street Market, Matchesfashion, Goodhood etc…)
SR: It was never a calling. I’ve never identified as a die hard sneakerhead or as a fashionista. I come from product design and I became fascinated with how sneakers are a mix of comfort, innovation and culture.
They’re a lifestyle. I love the idea of problem solving being equally important to storytelling and style.
My big break was when Nike came to my school in Paris in 2005. Aaron Cooper and Lisa Olivia hired me as Nike’s first international design intern. Previously I had interned as an apparel designer for Adidas, and Car interior Designer at Toyota in Tokyo. When I finally got to work in footwear, I was hooked.
After a few years at Nike, I joined Puma in London as an accessory designer. The best part of my job was to work with Hussein Chalayan on his urban mobility collection, it helped me get one foot in fashion, and in 2011 I became Louis Vuitton’s first sneaker designer, it was a freelance role, so I started my own design studio. And I have been working with brands all around the world since then, so far I have worked with over 25 major brands in luxury, sport, trend and technology across a dozen countries… but who’s counting 🙂
I specialise in minimal design, but always original and with a story. Less is more, and Primury is testament to this type of thinking.
SR: I always thought the market offering was limited for women. When I started, it was all about “shrink it and pink it” (meaning make shoes smaller and make them pink). Women were actually asking for equality: the same product as the men, but in a smaller size! The topic of defining what a “feminine” versus a “masculine” product is a big part of my work, it happened after being told countless times that the stuff I was designing for women was deemed too “masculine” and vice versa, the product I would create for men was too “feminine”. Our market, our industry, even our fashion week calendars are still very gendered, it remains a very important topic.
I’m very interested in breaking down preconception and bringing people products that will bring them joy and not box them into a gender stereotype.
My goal, always, is to make products that allow people to live their best life, knowing they look and feel great, so they can focus on more important things. Comfort is empowerment!
I believe product can be both comfortable and truly beautiful, fashionable AND somewhat timeless.
It’s slowly becoming acceptable for people to wear sneakers and not appear underdressed, I want to keep this going, and focus on the next challenge: sustainability.
Sustainability is a big word, with a big meaning and not just a marketing tool. We have to challenge every aspect of our industry, and share the knowledge so that we limit the impact on our planet.
In short, my values are equality, sustainability and happiness. Every project is a journey, it should be as collaborative and as pleasant as possible. We’re very privileged to design sneakers, so we should spread the joy!
SR: I would like to help empower the next generation to enter and challenge the industry for the better. As we enter a new era of mindful consumerism, we need to be better designers than ever before.
I’m also very interested in creative processes, and I hope to encourage other creatives to share their journey, to provide tips and empower their community. In a world oversaturated with social media, overachievers, imagery and products, how do we stay creative? How do we stay relevant? How do we avoid burning out?
It’s a privilege to join the ConceptKicks platform, and I hope to bring exciting content and to contribute positively to the conversation.
A piece of good news: I’ve partnered with journalist Sophie Jackson to host a panel discussion on « Women and the Business Sneakers » in London in on March 5th. This talk will also feature footwear creatives Helen Kirkum and Natasha Jackson. This is hopefully the first of several panel discussions, with the goal to continue to gather the footwear community to talk about current issues that matter to us, in a positive way.
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