Mark McNairy is a big favourite of ours, infact I’m wearing a pair of his Union collaboration models right now. The NY based designer has made a huge impact since releasing his own line Mark McNairy New Amsterdam, but his work at J.Press hasn’t gone unnoticed. We continue our series of short interviews spending 5 minutes with Mark.
Why shoes, how did you get involved in footwear design?
I have always loved shoes, even more than clothes. It started with an obsession and collecting basketball sneakers in junior high school mid 1970’s. I worked in a sporting goods store after school and was a water boy at Greensboro Collesium. ABA Carolina Cogars NCAA, ACC. My obsession over the years progressed into Alden, Trickers etc. I always think, no matter how well dressed a guy is, if the shoes are wrong, it’s ALL wrong.
Prior to launching your own label, you’ve worked at a number of high profile labels, what were the biggest and most important lessons learnt throughout that time in that environment?
Actually for the majority of my career, I have worked for myself. Over the past several years, I have been fortunate enough to experience the ‘corporate environment’ and now I know that that is not for me.
What are your views on why guys that would have been digging for rare and limited sneakers a year or two ago are now digging for semi-formal footwear.., we tend to say that the trend towards heritage clothing for example is due to the growing and maturing state of the market, but theres has to be an element of trend, do you think the same goes for the footwear market?
I do not necessarily see it as a trend. It is a natural progression. I started with sneakers myself.
What are the key elements one should look for in choosing a shoe?
Number one priority- make sure it is not by Kenneth Cole.
And likewise, what are your priorities when designing a shoe?
Make sure it does not look like Kenneth Cole made it.
Tell us about the design and production process of your footwear?
I really do not design. I un-design. All my shoes are interpretations of classic Anglo- American shoe styles.
Where do you find inspiration?
Any and everywhere.
Your line is growing all the time, whats next for you?
Ain’t no telling!