Extreme attention to detail. The unbridled passion for streetstyle, sneakers and leather. Straight from Los Angeles, Nicholas Avery and Gustavo Servin of La La Land Artlab taught (on Thursday June 11, 2020) the secrets of repairing and creative customisation to the social community of Lineapelle Now & Together. Two activities that Avery and Servin have (almost) transformed into a real art. “We are part of Los Angeles’ street culture. This is what differentiates us – Servin says -. We have always drawn inspiration from this world and decline it on something totally different, like a sneaker. It’s not just about design: it’s creating shoes that gave us an advantage”. As Avery reiterates: “We are not only designers who express concepts, we are shoe artisans too. What sets us apart is that we know the product creation process well, not just the design”.
A customisation lesson
The idea of customisation for Avery was born from the encounter between the passion for sneakers and that for painting, while he was studying. “After working on customisation, I started making repairs to understand and enter the world of footwear. I tried to learn how the reconstruction of a shoe worked, so I got excited and I started to study how a shoe was created”.
Sneakers and leather
“It is the ideas that dictate the choice of materials – explains Servin -. If we want to create something disruptive, but at the same time classic, we choose a certain type of leather”. The two designers love to use it in their work to demonstrate that the combination of sneaker and leather is a winner. “The quality of the sneaker depends on whether it is comfortable and durable. We try to increase the comfort of the shoe by improving the quality of the materials used” adds Avery. In other words, “shoes return to life and leather is an ideal material for doing this”, comments Orietta Pellizzari, who led the Zoom conversation.
Avery and Servin use many types of leather. Among these, there are also those of valuable origins, such as crocodile. “It takes specific knowledge for this type of leather. While cutting crocodile leather, particular characteristics emerge. We love to use it for the effect it has on shoes, in particular on sneakers. It is a difficult material to work with, but we love it. We like to experiment with different types of leather”.
“It is important for us to remain faithful to traditional repair rules. In sneakers, soles are usually to be repaired. For example, much of our work is about rebuilding Nike models. Sometimes they bring us some from the 80s or 90s: very ruined, scratched, which almost crumble. But despite this, the value of the shoe remains. It is a piece of history, a work of art. People have a sentimental bond with their sneakers. So, to make shoes wearable again and to extend their life, we need to remove the rubber sole and replace it, buying a new pair of the same model”. The operation is called “sole swapping” and it is a work of decomposition and recomposition of the shoe that “allows the creation of something that did not exist before, completely new”.
Watch the full video
For those who missed it, the webinar “Repairing and customisation: tips from Los Angeles artist designers Nicholas Avery and Gustavo Servin” is available here on YouTube, where you can also review all the Now & Together talks held in recent weeks.