Native Talks Future Classics

Native Shoes is back.

After a brief hiatus, the comfort brand returns with its first big launch since 2012. The Apollo, a single-piece pattern with a no-stitch construction, is a unisex style that evolves Native’s EVA heritage.

The new line will be introduced at Kith in August, then trickle into additional retailers nationwide in October and worldwide in February 2015. FN talked to Mark Gainor, Native’s creative director, about the brand’s evolution.

This is Native’s first big product introduction in two years. How has the brand evolved? How is Native developing this idea of ‘future classics’?
MG:
We evolve by rolling with the continuing story of “Lite on earth. Keep it Lite.” Don’t take yourself too seriously. Future Classics is both our design theory and a philosophy for life. We draw inspiration from the past while being informed and inspired by the future.

[In design], we start with a classic silhouette and then look to the future for the latest materials and fabrication. In life, we find that if you appreciate where you came from and are excited about what [lies] ahead, you find you’re positioned to enjoy right now.

Can you talk us through the design process for the Apollo?
MG:
The Apollo was a perfect example of the Future Classic ideology. We were inspired by one of the most classic silhouettes of all time, the moccasin. I worked with local Los Angeles shoemaker Raul Ojeda to create both the hand-turned wooden last and the pattern and prototypes. Raul is a classically trained bespoke shoemaker, and it was amazing to work with him and his team. The machine that they use to turn the lasts is from the 1880s, and their team uses the same techniques that people have used for hundreds of years to create classic footwear. His expertise helped us to create a new perspective on the moccasin.

After that I headed over to China with the prototype and pattern. We had the classic component covered with the silhouette and with Raul’s involvement. It was time to inject some future into the mix, and China is the perfect place for that.

3-D printing, no-sew welded construction, ultralight EVA outsoles, breathable microfiber. It was really exciting to see that classic form merge with these cutting-edge treatments and materials. The end result was a fresh take on a classic, and most importantly, it looks and feels like a Native shoe. It’s definitely “Keeping it Lite.”

What’s next for Native?
MG:
It really feels like we are picking up momentum and entering a new era. We have an incredible team at Native and a family of collaborators around the world. I find I am constantly inspired and humbled by their energy and ideas. We have some new projects in the works that I think people are going to be surprised by.

The Apollo starts at $70.