On Your Feet: Locally sourced sneakers from SYOU

Black canvas gum sole

On Your Feet is all about that new shoe feeling- from the first time you open the box until they’re worn into the ground. Sometimes we’ll sift through the constant Air Jordan releases to bring you the gems other people will leave on the shelves, and sometimes we’ll slide on reclaimed leather loafers from Prague, but we’ll always focus on comfortable shoes with appealing and creative aesthetic. So lace up your new shoes and stand on the precipice of adventure, where will we go together?

Every season, SYOU (pronounced “I See You”) sets out to create a pair of sneakers that are inspired by and created with artists and cultural figures in another country. Early in 2014, designers Merijn ten Thije and Jaap Spoorenberg decided that the line should focus on the talent that works together on the process, what they call co-design. For their trip to Columbia, SYOU brought together a group of 29 artists, musicians, and creative leaders for a two-day conference that explored unique landmarks and styles of the country. It’s about more than just creating a pair of shoes though, the whole idea behind the SYOU& project is to listen to the stories that people are telling and create a whole style and movement around them.

White SYOU canvas laces and tongue

The best part is that the local inspiration and design doesn’t stop there. The materials and process are all locally sourced, with eco-friendly gum soles produced in Meddelín, beautiful white and black canvas from Bogotá, and the shoes are constructed in Cali before they’re sold locally and shipped to New York for US customers. The shoebox was decorated by José Argotty, a local Colombian designer, who based the design off of patriotic colors and traditional geometric designs. SYOU’s goal is as much to promote cultural awareness for the host countries, as it is to promote local economy and suppliers.

SYOU creative talent conference

Almost all of the branding has been stripped off of these clean canvas shoes, instead putting the unique cultural influence and branding at the creative center. The back of the shoe says “Walk With Us” with a small flag tag, and the tongue simply says SYOU, leaving only the clean canvas, or in the case of the CO.5, wrapped in a unique floral pattern. The insole is fitted with more artist branding, with a short sentiment by Columbian poet Juanita Olivera, encouraging the wearer to walk in the same footsteps of feeling the rhythm and building a culture around it.

walk with us pattern

Each pair is available from the SYOU shop and comes with a tote bag handcrafted from 50% recycled cotton and 50% recycled PET bottles, and is packaged in the colorful, hand-made box designed specifically for the project.

[Photos courtesy Creative Talent Conference 2014]