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Highsnobiety Q&A May, 2 2014

Edward Toft from hanon Talks Collaborating with Lacoste

Last week we presented the hanon x Lacoste Wytham and today we take some time to talk to hanon’s Edward Toft regarding the collaboration. Reinvigorating the sporting brand’s classic court shoe, the sneakers come in two colorways, with the upper consisting of plush tumbled leather offset by chalk suede overlays and a stitched molded cup sole. A series of subtle details have been added to the sneaker, including a rich padded lining, contrasting cloth collar and an old school tennis-inspired “sun burst” perf on the vamp. Many other details, such as a collaborative dust bag and two sets of laces, are included as well.

Check out our interview below and look for the hanon x Lacoste Wytham “On Court” white edition to release on Saturday, May 3 in-store and online. A special tobacco “Off Court” colorway will be offered in-store only, strictly limited to 50 pairs with each pair coming hand-numbered.

How did this collaboration come together? Who approached who?

From memory I think Lacoste suggested the collaboration, although not an approach, as such, probably when we met up at an appointment it would have been discussed. We regularly connect with footwear brands, sometimes just for a heads up, and even if there isn’t an established working relationship. Over the past couple of years there has been more in the way of special projects, collaborations and just a general increase in product development. More often than not a brand will have something on the horizon and occasionally that has lead to a collaboration.

How did the experience of developing hanon and other collaborations prepare you for the Lacoste energy?

When we first opened and established the store our approach to the business was more of an extension of the things we were passionate about growing up. We have always been into footwear – sneakers especially – apparel, outerwear and latterly production. I think it helps if you have a bit of a love for what you do, so designing shoes is really an extended bonus for us. Having some history of collaborating on footwear projects has also helped in the sense that we have more knowledge now on material selection, lead times and the sampling process.

How did you plan to merge Lacoste’s history with current trends and the aesthetics of today?

When I think of Lacoste, two things that immediately spring to mind are polo shirts and knitwear. Their footwear in a world of sneakers is not as established as apparel, but they have a great untapped back catalogue especially from the late ’80s to mid ’90s – a key area being tennis shoes. When we met with Lacoste they had around 10 – 12 deadstock styles on a table, most of which were court-based silhouettes. Approaching the collaboration therefore wasn’t too difficult as we wanted the project to reflect Lacoste’s tennis heritage and a premium executed cup-sole felt like a nice alternative to the current focus on the running trend.

What does your design process generally consist of? Do you look at the material first or do you have an overall vision for each new sneaker/collection?

It certainly helps to have an overall vision or concept when approaching a project. If your initial idea is clear it makes designing the shoe a much easier process. Also, sampling tends to be a bit more definitive if you start in a solid direction. That said, I think our approach is generally the same for each collaboration. It usually begins with what the brand means to us and then we will try and initiate a concept or an idea that will connect us both. Materials and color specs then tend to follow. Combining archive details is also a common thread. We like to add little references that point to the brand’s history. And executing the shoe with the best material spec available is quite important.

Where does the collaboration fit within the ever-changing footwear landscape?

Running shoes seem to be a key focus right now regarding trends so I guess a collaboration on a mid-top court shoe is a little off the radar a bit as to what is out there or what the main focus in the marketplace is. My feeling, however, is a classic white tennis shoe is kind of timeless really in much the same way that running is. Even as trends come and go, a simple all-white silhouette will be sort of unaffected. For example wherever you go, there will always be someone, somewhere wearing a pair of Stan Smith. I think ultimately we wanted to capture a little of that spirit for this project.

hanon has had a string of successful collaborations over the past year. Can we expect to see more?

Yes, we have some more projects coming up this year. All going well we should have something over the summer months including a made in Italy project that we are quite excited about.

Do you have a personal favorite model or colorway?

Difficult to say really. Probably the Centaur we worked on with adidas. It had a connection with Aberdeen, our hometown, and I was really pleased with how the makeup of the shoe reflected the theme we wanted to capture. The material execution in particular was fantastic and I also liked some of the little print details, especially the granite flecks on the side stripes and the screened in-sock pattern. That project was quite seamless really. As soon as the first sample came through we felt the shoe was pretty much nailed. That said, working on the shoes with ASICS, Saucony and New Balance were all great collaborations to have been involved in.

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