Tres Bien have compiled another intriguing read with this article on Peter Poopat, founder and designer of renowned shoe label Common Projects.
At first, “We just wanted to make shoes for ourselves and our girls.” Peter smiles. The first samples came in during men’s market week in New York. Peter and Flavio showed them to some friends and all of a sudden orders were coming in. “Steven Alan, Opening Ceremony, Nom de Guerre, and it took off from there.”
That original model was the Achilles, a strikingly minimalist shoe that remains in the Common Projects lineup today, with subtle refinements. The Achilles model is adaptable and basic, built in Italy of good, soft leather and a durable rubber sole. It’s “unbranded”–the only signifier of its make is a stamp on the heel marking the model and size. Yet the shoes are distinctive enough to float in the fashion world. Next fall you’ll see an upgraded Premium Achilles (which features leather faux-foxing all around, among other changes) but the classic won’t go away. Peter describes the Premium Achilles and laughs, “It’s like the new iPhone. It gets better reception; it will never drop a call.” And you don’t have to wear it any one particular way to get it to work.
Peter points out that the first shoe was called the “Achilles by Common Projects,” and the first bags “Atlas by Common Projects,” because Peter and Flavio always meant to work on other creative enterprises under the Common Projects name. Although they’re not letting details out yet, a number of endeavors are currently in the works–in the future you might see Common Projects “unbranded” stuff stocked in shops next to Saarinen chairs and the like.
Peter eventually left the magazine game to focus on design. I ask him whether he misses the deadline-driven world of publishing. “I miss laying out books. I miss telling a story. I try to work that into Common Projects. That’s what we wanted the early Common Projects shoots to do. Show the shoes when the guy who’s wearing them takes them off.”
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