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Seth Aaron Collection at FashioNXT

Seth Aaron is a two-time Project Runway winner. His style tends to feature bold patterning and high-contrast color combinations. He also has a dedication to sustainable fashion, which made him a perfect candidate to partner with Feetz. Seth had a strong background in patterning, but had not designed a shoe before.

Seth and I met via video and discussed his vision for the show, which would be comprised of ten looks with two shoe styles. We discussed ideas he had for shoes, his color palette, and inspiration that could inform the designs.

I then moved to education on using 3D printing as a manufacturing method. This meeting was important in informing me about what was most important to Seth’s vision, and to Seth for outlining how creating his designs using 3D printing could change them.

He presented sketches to work from. At the time of our first meeting, his runway show was eight weeks away.

Inspired by Japanese geta and traditional wooden architecture, cutouts were to mimic the graphic elements in Seth’s show. 

I built a few prototypes quickly, and we decided on the best with Seth based on his vision and our manufacturing. I printed miniature prototypes to give Seth a better idea of what the designs looked like in 3D, and moved to larger prototypes to begin fit testing and optimization right away. Doing both at once allowed for refining lines and while testing for structural integrity.

I learned in early prototypes how to optimize the shape that Seth wanted with the heel. Printing the footbed to follow the foot contour would require an extremely tall heel, or support material, which would compromise the quality of the finished product and add to cost. The lower geometries were changed so that the look was achieved without support.
Seth’s designs tended to buckle at the central joint beneath the foot. This could be remedied with extra material in that area, but resulted in an extremely heavy shoe. Careful placement of vertical pillars solves this problem.

The cutouts create a feeling of lightness in the design, but also 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.

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 too much 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.