ABSENCE MAKES THE HEELS GROW FONDER
You may have seen them at London Fashion Week or eyed them on Solestruck.com, either way, you know an Absence shoe when you see one. Reinventing classic footwear silhouettes, this up-and-coming brand combines unexpected details with geometric glamour for show stopping results. This month, we caught up with the creative minds behind the brand, Taiwanese designers Yoyo Pan and Jhuosan Wang, to talk style, inspiration and the future of footwear.
How did you become involved in footwear design?
Yoyo: I was studying fashion and worked as a product developer in the ready-to-wear industry. It all happened quite naturally; it was 2007, I had a hard time finding shoes I liked on the market, so I started making some random sketches of my ideal shoes in mind. I tried to collect all the feelings, everything I’ve seen, touched and tasted, and express with forms and shapes through my sketches, to honestly record how I felt and what was happening around me, and it becomes my unique visual diary. One day I woke up in a pile of sketches, they were everywhere scattered on the floor—there was hardly room to walk—and I somehow knew that it was about time to make a decision to either tidy up my room or start my footwear design career, certainly the second option sounded a lot easier...
Jhuosan: The first time I came across shoe design is in a design studio, the history of how shoes changed through time and the culture behind it really got my attention. I realized that all types of shoes come with some interesting stories and reasons about the relationship between time, space, and the wearer. People tend to choose accessories to express themselves, interestingly; their choices are often related to those stories. Then the wearer will adopt their thoughts and feelings, trying to re-write their own stories and experience.
What do you love about footwear design compared to say, fashion/product design?
Yoyo: I found footwear design is easier to express my feelings and opinions compared to fashion design. Footwear design involves more aspects, for example, when using materials, the calculation of structure and weight must be calculated carefully. I have to understand each leather’s character beforehand and work out how I can utilize it in my design. The design has to be original but at the same time wearable and comfortable. For those purposes, every day we are learning and communicating with all the professionals in their fields. It’s like every day there’s a new challenge waiting for me; I’m enjoying it.
Jhuosan: Footwear and product design are very similar at some levels. For both, we need to learn the character of the materials and the manufacturing process in order to make sure our concept could be produced. I think product design is like making a friend for the user, the user can use it to complete some work or experience together. But for shoe design, it’s about the wearer, there are more personalities inside the wearer can be brought out and expressed.
When a woman wears your shoes, how would you want them to feel?
Yoyo: We believe it’s important to have your own voice in every aspect of the commodity and react to a pair of shoes through your own taste and personal style. To let the wearers be themselves and allow others to see not what they are wearing but who they are.
Jhuosan: I hope they get a chance to meet those personalities that are hidden inside of them by wearing our shoes. And through that, bring more possibilities into their life that they might never have come across before.
What’s the biggest misconception when it comes to footwear design?
Yoyo: Communication. Our shoes are unique, they combine complicated and delicate hand-made skills with a unique molding process. Each step takes professionals in each field to think outside of their box and communicate with others.
Jhuosan: Time. Our design contains a lot of details and structures; it takes a lot more experimenting and testing to produce, not to mention quality control. And each season we are pushing ourselves to release many new styles, so the time has always been passing a lot quicker than I had expected!
What do you hope for the future of your brand?
Yoyo: I hope Abcense can grow steadily, and people we love, would love our designs. For all the Abcense team, clients and suppliers that have been supporting us from the beginning, I hope everyone can grow together both in spirit and materials. I hope they can achieve what they are aiming for in their career ladder.