I think I ‘may’ have *cough* mentioned before… once or twice ;) that I am a HUGE Irregular Choice fan. As in, not able to pass a shoe store without popping in and checking out their latest designs… trying on…… and then purchasing them…. :)
For a while now, I have wondered about the innovative creator and designer behind this now world renowned label – Dan Sullivan.. how he puts his lines together each season and what makes him tick. Not only do Irregular Choice design mouth watering footwear ( that I have recently also seen cool brides adourning ), clothing, bags and accessories – they even now make very pleasing on the eye homeware !
So, my friends.. today is a really special day. It’s ‘Inspire Me’ .. all about Dan, his design inspirations for Irregular Choice and his directional, extremely exclusive new collection – Dan Sullivan . A collection for “die hard fans” – and I can assure you, he has not held back – they really are incredible as you are about to see…
Dan, how did you get into shoe design ? Had it always been your plan ?
My parents had a line of shoe stores called Transit in the UK during the 70’s punk Camden London era, so from an early age I grew up around footwear, design and how to retail that to the consumer. I then learned about production by traveling to the factories jn the far east. I didn’t go to fashion or design school.
What I love about Irregular Choice, is that your shoes, clothing and accessories are totally unique – where do you get your inspiration ?
Thank you, that’s definitely our brand ethos. Everything I’ve done has been self- taught and influenced by travels- experiencing a huge variety in world cultures, people, fashions and food. I have to say Japan is probably my most influential place.
Do you have a strong vision of each piece before you start the designing process, or does it evolve as you work?.. and do you name the shoe style before or after ? :)
I have a clear vision of the direction I want to take, design wise, in order to push the boundaries from the collection before. I then use a huge library of colors, textures, trims and fabrics to make that happen. I make sure that each collection has meaning and is well- rounded, so although the shoes are very different and strong , there really is a shoe for everybody. The naming of the shoe comes afterward, once we see how the shoe has turned out in person as opposed to drawing.
You have a huge fan base, worldwide – is this something that happened very quickly ?
I’m very thankful to the Irregular Choice fans, the fan base has evolved greatly over the past 12 years which is great. I think that the opening of the London England store in 2009 really saw the brand catapult here in the UK as it was a place for fans to come and really understand what we are about as a whole lifestyle.
As well as stocking internationally, you have your own Irregular Choice stores in Brighton, London, Hong Kong, Virginia in the USA and currently a ‘pop up’ shop in Paris, Does this mean you spend alot of time travelling and how do you combine it with the designing side of things ?
Yes, our retail has expanded which is really where I want to see the growth of the brand in the future. It means I can present Irregular Choice in an environment so unique and memorable that people keep coming back. Although I do travel a lot, particularly to the Far East and to the factories to check on production and sampling, I set aside specific time to design the season’s collection. I plan it into my schedule and close the door from outside distractions. Thats the only way I can really get the point of the brand across in design and keep each collection consistently unique.
Do you get time to switch off? What is an ideal day of chilling for you ?
Sometimes ! Spending time at home with my family is the best day.
Recently, you launched an exclusive collection under your own name – Dan Sullivan. Will you be doing this every season and what can we expect ?
I went back to the roots of what makes IC unique and desirable and timesed it by 1000. The Dan Sullivan Collection is really a thank you to the fans, and I havn’t held back in creating one- of a kind shoes. These I think are some of my favorite designs as it’s truly different. I also wanted to keep them unique by making only a dozen or so of each style, so each customer really feels special. At the moment they are available on www.dansullivan.eu and each month I will be launching new styles between now and Feb 2013.
For anyone reading this interview who wants a career in design, what advice would you offer them ?
I never went to design school, so I can’t say that works for everybody. But I would say to emerse yourself in whatever inspires you and whatever motivates you to design and makes you happy.
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All images copyright of Irregular Choice 2012.