Peterson and Stoop desconstructing footwear with sustainability
PETERSON+STOOP stands for Jelske Peterson and Jarah Stoop. Two grls taking the pieces of a vintage sneaker apart and building it up again 🔗.
Based in Amsterdam, the label started back in 2013. It all begins w/ the idea of designing bags n shoes, making a collection every six months right there at the 90m2 studio. After a couple of years, they took a step back and realize their tr00 call: come up w/ one really REALLY good product and work regardless of the season we're in.
They r pioneering a sustainable approach to footwear production & design, supported by a small team of interns and artisans. The main goal: producing (extremely) desirable AND ethical footwear.
So if u want some Nike Air-Force sneaker vibes of ur own or just really wanna hear ’bout unique ideas, here’s the right spot.
Actually, spoiler alert: them awesome collection will be out @ PFW '20. & to get u ready, we start our case w/ a first n very exclusive look at the custom PS w/ Converse that's dropping right there in February. It comes w/ a remastered Chuck Taylor All Star w/ leather stitched upper, chunky soles and front zip vamp. Excited yet?
Take a closer peek below & save the date in ur iCalendar 👅.
Let’s start w/ a question about the essence of ur job: why did u choose to work w/ sustainable materials such as leather, nowadays?
We chose to work with leather 'cause it’s just a beautiful product. It ages very nicely, we use vegetable tanned leather and it’s so durable. So that’s why. I think that compared to vegan options it lasts much longer, you can really treat it with oils or, if you treat it well, it will last longer than your lifetime. For us from Peterson + Stoop, it also comes from our education: we learned the traditional way of making shoes.
The process of deconstructing shoes and reconstructing them as new ones is a big deal and demands really hard work, right? How did you get to where ur brand is right now?
We started our company in 2013. We had this idea that we could design bags and shoes, make a collection every six months and make it ourselves here in our studio. So we came out with a big collection and we found out that "ok, this is not the way to go." It was too much for two people to handle. After a couple of years, we took a step back & thought "ok, we have to come up with one good product and work without seasons."
This product we presented at fairs or trade shows in Paris and it was really well-received but nothing happened. It was only people happy to see it, but no orders were placed. So we had to change something again because also this was not working. Then one day Jelske was wearing Air Force 1 and we thought it had a really cool sole design, 'cause the sole design of the shoe was very unique & symmetrical. Then we had this sole design on a second-hand shoe, second hand upper. Once we came up with this idea we thought to ourselves, "we have to film it, we have to document it because this is gonna be good." And when we put it online we had shops emailing us like "can we place orders?" People from all over the world asking "can I send my shoes? Can you do this?" This was what we wanted, not only to make nice products but also get them out to the world. So it just happened sort of by itself.
Have u guys always worked w/ shoes and design?
Jelske used to work at a shoe repair shop. She worked there for seven years, so she really learned from the inside out what makes a good shoe & what shoes people want to have repaired. Sometimes they also take sneakers, but then you can’t repair them ‘cause they are made with a sole that you don’t have in stock. Also, all the knowledge she had she brought here to our design studio where we could make something a little bit more sustainable but also aesthetically pleasing ‘cause we are designers, so it’s all like a mix of all these different knowledge we are taking from different places.
Do u intend to work w/ powerful, big brands, such as Nike, for instance?
Of course. I had a council meeting a couple of days ago with some people and they said, "yeah, it’s so expensive what you make." I mean, it is expensive, ‘cause it’s five hundred euros for a pair of shoes. But I think if we have the chance to work with a company like NIKE, they have a streamlined production that they can offer a similar product, which has the same values, but for a more reasonable price. So it’s really important for us to work with bigger companies. There is a real change happening. I really like it. I really feel that we have to take little baby steps and, every time, and when we have a chance to influence big companies, I’m gonna take it. They have so much power.
We know it's not easy to create something from scratch, but what about the process of re-making them? What are the steps to get where u want w/ these footwear pieces?
There r basically six steps:
🔗 We cut the stitches one by one of the sole;
🔗 Leave the shoes in the water for like 15 minutes (it makes sure that the glue comes loose);
🔗 Clean them straight away in boiling water and antiseptic soap;
🔗 Take off the soles;
🔗 Paint them & start resoling them;
🔗 Final (& important) step: we make sure to keep all the shoes together, so that they will always have the same pair & the same amount of ware.
There's so much effort to do it, the idea itself is already something so cool and so important. Sometimes people buy shoes worth 200 euros, but they buy a lot of them. Sometimes they are even fake shoes, that you buy for 300 and it gets rotten superfast. When you have something of quality, it's worth it. I believe the future is about that: invest a little more now, but you’ll have something for a long time and you also help the planet.
Recently, I have been really feeling like inspiring people to do repair by themselves. Maybe we can give a course, where people can really learn how to repair or maybe they can buy from our website the materials to repair. And, also, just to inspire them to use shops and the people that are around you in their area.
Do your ideas of creation come more from necessity or aesthetics?
It grew from aesthetics and then it grew into a more sustainable goal. Because we have been working together for so long. Jelske and I really are quite simple people, it’s not about money for us, it’s about us waking up in the morning and thinking "ok, I’m gonna go to work, I feel like working." Similar to children when they feel like playing. For us, we couldn’t design something that was not sustainable, because it doesn’t make us happy.
It’s so amazing to know all these stories about your process, please tell us what's so special about making it.
When I go to this big warehouse/luxury shop, I feel it’s so boring. The design is great but the products... you don’t see that somebody has touched it. I’m really interested in all personal marks that for instance are inside of the shoes, what makes them write a number, every stitch. When I make something on the machine, I’m thinking "oh, what am I gonna cook today?" There's a story is in all those stitches, it’s such an emotional process.