A Way to Build Your Own Shoes
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
This DIY footwear is probably easier to put together than a shelf.
By Vignesh Ramachandran
Shoes are a very personal thing. Not only do they help carry us around and keep our feet happy, but they also help to define our style. But when it comes to making your footwear fashion statement, how comfortable would you be building your own, IKEA-style?
For $99, Hungary-based Pikkpack sends you a kit of flat-packed leather shoes, ready for you to assemble. Inside the box there’s everything you need to make your own pair: a black or brown shoe base; a sole, available in four colors; and two pairs of shoelaces. The kit also comes with instructions, a tutorial and a cotton bag to carry your new DIY kicks. To assemble, use the shoelaces to sew the three pieces together. The process takes about an hour and should be fairly easy. (Pikkpack, after all, is a Hungarian play on words meaning “piece of cake.”)
There are just three pieces — compared to typical contemporary footwear that might need more than 70.
Pikkpack was inspired by a traditional Hungarian shoe (bocskor), which was originally made from one piece of leather, explains designer and co-founder Sara Gulyas, who first developed the shoe while doing her master’s studies. She wanted to re-create this idea for the modern era, and with an eco-friendly approach. There are just three pieces — compared to typical contemporary footwear that might need more than 70. “I wanted to create a totally minimal, waste-cutting and very edgy kind of design,” she says. The shoe’s design is unisex, with men composing almost 40 percent of customers.
Buyers get to play designer by choosing the color combinations of shoe and shoelace. “It’s important for the user to feel that it’s their own design; it’s their shoe,” says Pikkpack co-founder Andras Balogh. Want to jazz things up? Swap in the other pair of shoelaces — which come in solid and reflective shades — for a new look. With two shoe colors and fourteen shoelace options, there is room for personal creativity and, according to the creators, they can all mix and match.
But flat-pack DIY isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time. (When was the last time you put together an IKEA shelf?) And what about the average consumer, like myself, who might have absolutely no fashion sense when it comes to designing shoes? This is why we often will just pay $100 for a shelf-ready pair that can be worn immediately. Gulyas says the idea is that if people get involved in the production process, they might like a product more because they built it themselves.
Hersha Steinbock, a fashion merchandising instructor at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, likes that the company is reviving a historic form of footwear for the present day, but she also believes “DIY and fashion are mutually exclusive terms.” Because “fashion is driven by the desire for both differentiation and belonging,” she explains in a statement, consumers want to be recognized by others to appear to be on trend, but also unique in their personal style.
So that could explain why dozens of other people are wearing the same boring Adidas Samba shoes that I sport in any given place. But on the other hand, if you build a pair of Pikkpack shoes and your friends ask who the designer is, you can triumphantly say: “Me.”