Studio Helen Kirkum unveiled its first ready-to-wear sneakers during the London Fashion Week presentation at The Old Selfridges Hotel on Friday.
Known for its service and made-to-order collaborations, Kirkum’s new sneaker is the first style to get a more prominent launch. Dubbed ‘Palimpsest’, the sneakers are made in England mainly from the reused and recycled materials that Kirkum is known for, sourced from the EU and the UK.
Taking inspiration from Kirkum’s signature split sole design, the new sneaker, which retails for £590 (roughly $675), features mismatched forefoot and rear sole components. As with all of Kirkum’s other creations, details are key. The sneaker features a corn leather upper, insoles made from 98% recycled content, and soles created from colorful single laces collected during the material hunting process.
In addition, the tongue label has the stitching lines designed on the graphic and the stitching in red in reference to the red pen used by the factory to correct errors. The phrases “Made in England” and “An artefact made from single shoes” appear on the tongue tag.
In an interview with FN ahead of her London Fashion Week presentation, Kirkum said this launch has been “a long time coming” and that she’s been wanting to launch a ready-to-wear sneaker for a while. “Finally, it’s happening,” Kirkum told FN. “And I think for me, it’s just been a case of growing up, finding my feet within the industry and building the business. And now getting to a point where I feel pretty settled, I feel like I actually have this system of using old sneakers, I’ve managed to find a tangible system that can work. I’ve been able to scale, I’ve been able to get some great partners on board. And now is the time to launch this shoe.”
In an effort to use as many recycled materials as possible, Kirkum noted that the sole uses Forplas Recy, made from 100% industrial waste, and Everloop IG, which contains 30% industrial waste and is produced by Portuguese manufacturer Forever.
According to Kirkum, the shoes are made by Sheffield-based shoemaker Goral, with the upper created from materials repurposed from discarded sneaker soles, sourced from Traid Warehouse, a charity and long-time working studio partner to address the social and environmental problems caused by making, consuming and wasting clothes.
The shoe designer noted that the upper is sewn by Love Welcomes, an organization that provides meaningful and compensated work for refugee women.
“My goal has always been to create an easy-to-wear everyday sneaker with a rich material story behind it,” said Kirkum. “To create something that we know, but are not used to seeing. The stories of the materials are deeply rooted within each pair, with layers of memories and textures. As always with our studio, I wanted to create the sense of order, so each one is still unique.”
Kirkum noted that a limited number of pairs will be available for pre-order through the brand’s newsletter, The Sneak Peek, from September 16-25. A wider release will follow in late November on Helenkirkum.com and a select retail partner.
The designer graduated from London’s Royal College of Art in 2016 and won the International Talent Support Accessories Award and the International Talent Support Vogue Talents Award with her graduate collection. It also won a Cordwainers Footwear Award in 2015.
Since then, she has gone on to collaborate with some of the biggest names in footwear, including Adidas, Reebok, Melissa, Timberland, Nike, Yeezy and more.