The world of Doyun Kim is an utopia of footwear.

His shoes are detachable, with interchangeable pieces and styles, made with artisanal mastery focused on the sustainable and environmentally friendly production, are a unique delight.

The innovation behind the concept of his ecological shoes won him the YKK award at the International Talent Support 2013.


Doyun Kim

Doyun Kim


Doyun Kim originally studied Fine Arts in his home country, South Korea. After working in collaboration with companies such as Nike and Converse, he decided to develop his creativity and his own ideas by studying a Masters in Footwear Design at the London College of Fashion.

His work seems to answer the question of whether or not ecological shoes can be beautiful?


SO CATCHY!: How would you describe yourself?

DOYUN KIM: Challenge-seeking and vintage.


SC!: How would you define your work and your style?

DK: In my works, I always tried to make new things. For this reason, I enjoy to combine old one with new one.


SC!: Why did you choose to study Footwear Design?

DK: In my childhood, just like other boys, I also was fanatical about sports shoes. New type of shoes has always had a peculiar attraction for me, so I decided to design new shoes by my style.


SC!: What do you want to show with your work?

DK: What I want to do at the moment is really demonstrate to the consumer that Eco-friendly shoes can be more beautiful and sophisticated.


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SC!: Tell us about your process for producing a pair of shoes, from the idea to the shoe.

DK: The aim of this major project is to suggest how we can reduce the use of chemicals to a minimum in making shoes and how we can make more attractive sustainable shoes. The project is to develop a new manufacturing method for sustainable shoes and apply unusual material in the outsole.

It is also to introduce a way that each customer can easily customise their shoes with his or her preferences and tastes. The collection will focus on a structure of shoe outsole made of wood. It will introduce distinguished style from other eco friendly shoes. As this structure is being attempted for the first time, it will show from the developmental stage of sandal to normal shoe.


SC!: Where do you look for inspiration?

DK: Wooden toys, [Suits of] Armour, Recycled furniture, Metamorphosis, Men’s formal shoes.


SC!: What are your favorite materials to work with, and why?

DK: Natural material (leather, wood…) because, as time goes on, natural materials lost colour and be aging, I love natural change like this.


SC!: Why did you decide to focus on ecological shoes for your MA Final Project?

DK: I worked at shoe companies for 6 years before the MA course. When I was working there, I couldn’t develop my creative ideas. For this reason, I decided to study shoes with Cordwainers. The MA final project has really helped to broaden my horizons about fashion footwear industry, and I could make new shoes while developing new skills.


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SC!: Tell us a little about the project which won you a spot as a finalist for ITS 2013.

DK: Firstly, in terms of structure, I tried to use les glue for my work. When I worked for shoes company I saw too many sample shoes were thrown out, but we couldn’t reuse and recycle, because when company make shoes, they use too much glue. For this reason, I thought less glue is less waste, and then I became inspired by armour. In my shoes, every part is separated, so if some part is broken a consumer can change just that broken part. Furthermore, every shoe is interchangeable, so if a consumer wants to change his style, he should just take off one part.

Secondly, in terms of aesthetics, I always wondered why eco-friendly shoes are not sophisticated and boring. For this reason, I tried to combine the traditional upper pattern and new type of sole in my shoes, moreover, I tried to touch people’s sensibility. I was inspired by wooden toys and furniture, because wood has beautiful grain.

Finally, in the ITS competition, I was supported by YKK company. I was inspired by metamorphosis and I wanted to make another skin using YKK fasteners such as zippers and snap buttons.

Through the ITS competition, I could have a good chance to show others that I am capable of doing other things.


SC!: What are you doing now?

DK: I am looking for a job because I have to earn money to develop my design and to make my new collection.


SC!: Tell us about your upcoming projects…

DK: The next collection in my plan is making women’s shoes using new manufacturing processes.


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SC!: Where do you see yourself next?

DK: Probably, I will be working with Nike or Adidas


SC!: And in 10 years?

DK: I will be running my own company.


SC!: Your favorite Footwear Designer is….

DK: Pierre Hardy, Mihara Yasuhiro, Rick Owens.


SC!: Your favorite blogs or websites are…

DK: The Sartorialist, GQ, Vimeo, Street Etiquette, FFFFOUND!, Convoy.


SC!: How would you define the world of Footwear now?

DK: The world we are in now is the result of technological integration in the fashion industry.


SC!: Do you dare to predict a change in the way shoes are produced?

DK: Well, I’m already enjoying it.


Photos courtesy of Doyun Kim


Translated by: Michael Padilla