Guess what? I made a shoe.
When KSWISS reached out to see if I was interested in collaborating, my 8-year old self jumped at the chance. It was one of those childhood pipe dreams I never thought would come to fruition and I’ll be honest I felt like a giddy little kid throughout the process.
Like so many of my other creative pursuits, my photography career, building CreativeLive, writing Creative Calling, to name a few, the creative process was my favorite part. Don’t get me wrong, seeing the shoe launch and people share photos wearing them leaves me lost for words. But there is nothing like bringing a creative idea to life by tinkering, testing and discovery. Since the launch, so many people from the community have ask about the process, so I wanted to share it here.
Meet The Creator: Chase Jarvis x KSWISS
I started this project the week Covid hit the West Coast. I met with everyone on the KSWISS team, from designers to product people, to the president and the social media team. It started like every creative process, ANYTHING was possible. But in order to get down to something viable, I needed to consider at lot of factors. There was price point, how would the shoe not only represent me, my style and my values, but the values I see in the creative community.
My main objective in the beginning was to make them unique. These are the first KSWISS shoe with printed leather, let alone camouflage leather. Then came the rest of the materials. Using sustainable products wherever possible was important to me. So we used recycled plastic bottles in the laces for example. I also wanted to incorporate aspects of my youth, so I chose a gum sole. This type of sole was on my early tennis shoes and is a way to pay homage to the skate culture I grew up around.
After choosing materials, it was all about the look of the design. One of the reasons you don’t see my name on the shoe (except for the tiny signature) is because this shoe isn’t about me. This shoe is about the creator and the creative community. That’s why I included the Creator license plate on the heel. We are all creators and we all wear shoes. So rather than leaning into athletic utility of tennis shoe I wanted to highlight The Creator and the creativity in the design.
After materials were selected and design was tight, we went into the prototyping phase. We had about 5 prototypes made that I got to touch, feel and wear. Next was durability tests. We shipped out a few pairs for what KSWISS calls “wear tests” before release. A handful of lucky people got to wear them for a couple weeks and send us feedback. What we learned was the glue wasn’t strong enough between the seal of the shoe and the rubber sole.
Then it was time to finalize and think about packaging. I knew I wanted to reinforce something I champion often, a good life is designed. So I included this note in the box as a reminder:
A good life is designed, it’s created. The beauty of path that we all walk is that no action is ever wasted. Through all the twists and turns we are never truly lost, no matter how far we have wandered. This is the nature of the creative process, it all matters. By expressing ourselves regularly in small ways, we are cultivating the agency and drive that is necessary to create the life of our dreams. Let these shoes be a reminder of where you are going and how you will get there.
To the creators and entrepreneurs, not just those who dream, but those who do, these shoes are for you.
I talk about the full creative process in this episode of the Chase Jarvis Live Show. If you want to know more, give it a listen.