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Seth Aaron Collection at FashioNXT

Seth Aaron is a two-time Project Runway winner.

His style often features precise tailoring and high-contrast color combinations. He is also dedicated to sustainable fashion, which made him a perfect candidate to partner with Feetz.

Seth and I met via video to discuss his vision for the show, which would be comprised of ten looks with two shoe styles. He described his inspiration for the show and presented sketches to work from.

Going off of Seth’s initial sketches, I used existing Feetz shoes and prototypes to show how we might best achieve Seth’s vision. This meeting allowed me to understand what was most important to Seth’s vision, and helpful to Seth for understanding how using 3D printing could alter his designs. 

At the time of our first meeting, his runway show was eight weeks away.

Seth was hoping to include cutouts in his shoe designs.

Since his show was inspired by Japanese architecture, we took inspiration from traditional geta.
I built the first few prototypes in miniature, in order to quickly print and test test for strength and manufacturability.  These initial prints also gave Seth a better idea of how the designs transformed into 3D.

After narrowing down options based on what worked best for both parties, I moved to larger prototypes to begin fit testing and optimization.

The cutouts create a feeling of lightness, but actually allow for a shoe that is stronger than a solid part.

One take-away from the W3dge was that cutouts, or separate islands in a print can be stronger and heavier than a “solid” part, without changing print density. The perimeter shells needed for FDM are denser than the infill, meaning more, better-fused material on small features than in large ones. In the case of Seth’s heel, having smaller pillars holding up the wearer’s heel at the point of impact actually makes a stronger shoe.

Initial interpretations of Seth’s sketches proved difficult in both optimization for manufacturing and in creating a shoe that was structurally sound.

A mixture of geometric shapes and a low angle beneath the foot caused this area to droop and flare, creating an unacceptable finish and compromising the strength of the shoe. In order to lift the angle into better printability, the heel height would have to be dangerously tall.

I added more material to act as a bridge between the footbed and pillars. This bridge stabilizes the pillars at the top of the shoe, while also allowing the angle under the foot to be kept at a printable angle without raising the overall pitch.  By extending these pillars to create a facade, the overall look of the cutouts were preserved.

To save on time, the number of pieces in the shoe were minimized. Original prototypes relied on multi-part or sewn-in details to create the silhouettes Seth wanted, but they required more time for development.

Feetz proprietary printing method allowed for the boot to be printed in one piece, and to customize support and flexibility within the shoe.

By creating flat surfaces, a better bond is created and there is less stress on manufacturing since upper and heel parts were matched the same as other Feetz shoes.