Paris Metro inspires Japanese sneakers

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Inspired by the desire to travel, Paris and fashion combined with functionality, a new range of women's shoes by Japan's Asics Corp. has had a unique evolutionary process. From concept to completion, the project was entirely in the hands of an all-female team within a firm that is -- like most in Japan -- dominated by men.

(Relaxnews) -

Inspired by the desire to travel, Paris and fashion combined with functionality, a new range of women's shoes by Japan's Asics Corp. has had a unique evolutionary process. From concept to completion, the project was entirely in the hands of an all-female team within a firm that is - like most in Japan - dominated by men.

Tired of putting on shoes that did not fit or came in a limited number of sizes, materials or colors, Vanessa Asell reached the conclusion that too many men were involved in the process of making women's shoes.

"I'm not a feminist, but I wanted the entire project to be by women, for women," said the Sweden-born Asell. "It had to be a range that was going to be put together by the people who were going to wear them in the end.

"I get the impression that everywhere else, there are men behind the scenes when a product is being developed, and that was not what I wanted."

It may be hard to prove that assertion, but there is a degree of support in the fact that Japan has the highest number of foot-related injuries caused by poor shoe design in the industrialized world.

Work on the Women For Women line began in July 2008 and the ballerina-style, slip-on sneaker will be released in Japan and Taiwan in March. With Asics recently opening flagship stores in London and New York, the designers hope that the line will be available in those markets soon as well.

The shoes come in two styles, each named after an iconic stop on the Paris Metro system. The Châtelet comes in three colors - white, blue or bright yellow - and has a canvas upper and retails for Y6,090 (€49.30), while the Plaisance is slightly more formal, is designed for a slightly older consumer and comes in floral patterns for Y6,615 (€53.55).

Asell says the design team wanted to create something for the urban, working woman between her mid-20s and late 30s, who would deliberately get off the train a stop or two before her station just so she could take a brisk walk. She prefers not to wear high-heels to work but is fashion-conscious, elegant and self-aware.

She should also appreciate the thought-provoking message hidden in the lining of the shoes; in the left shoe is the question, "Where do you want to go?" and in the liner of the right shoe are a range of answers from the design team's friends around the world, in four languages and ranging from Paris to "home" and more philosophical musings on their destination in life.

"I wanted to create a shoe that would make you happy when you saw it waiting for you in the hallway first thing on a Monday morning, a shoe that asks you where you really want to go," says Asell.

JR

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