Well I do, because Finnish Nokian has been running the game since 1898 and has shown to be the manufacturer in quality rubber footwear.
Nokian expanded their range by adding ski, bowling and disco shoes.
Coming from a country where it often rains I found Nokian Footwear to have found the perfect solution by giving the classic rain boot a make-over!
Nokian is constantly developing and have recently collaborated with designer Julia Lundsten.
This fashionista graduated from London’s Royal College of Art in 2003. While studying there, and managed to win the prestigious Manolo Blahnik Award two years running, wow!
I was excited to have the opportunity to ask Julia and the Nokian team so of my burning questions on their latest collaboration.
Grab a cup of tea and get introduced to product manager Päivi and in-house designer Mariska from Nokian and of course the lovely designer Julia Lundsten
Päivi of Nokian:
1. Do you approach the designer or does the designer approach you?
In most cases, designers approach us.
Nokian Footwear is widely known of good design and quality which brings us quite a number of contacts on yearly basis. The initial contact to Julia was already in 2008 when she was acting as jury member in our design competition.
2. How does the process work?
Concerning designer collaboration
Based on our design strategy we focus on Finnish design/designers. We evaluate carefully whether the proposed collaboration fits to our strategy and product portfolio. In most cases our product development is done by in-house team and only true treasures like Julia Lundsten will pass the criteria.
Development process in general
We work with two yearly collections –> spring/summer and autumn/winter. The development cycles takes minimum 1 year, often more (rubber is challenging material). Right now we are already working with ss2016 novelties.
Since the rubber footwear technology differs clearly e.g. from leather shoe industry that most designers are familiar with, our team is tightly involved with the process. General concept for whole collaboration was created together with the designer. Based on those outlines, the designer works out a range plan which is approved by our team for each collection. Our team helps the designer with rubber technology, structures and materials so that the designer’s vision can be reached within the project frames. Our team has the responsibility of taking the project through factory processes. There is lot of communication until the product is ready for production.
Julia Lundsten project was first of its kind for us. We have had several co-op proposals before but none of the earlier proposals was filling the targets for various reasons.
Julia Lundsten collaboration will continue also in the future and cover both ss2015 and aw2015 collections.
Marika of Nokian design team:
I have been working with the Nokian Design team for 2,5 years
2. Did you have a chance to give your input?
Design work with Julia has been easy and inspirational, the main design work is done by Julia and together we make the technical decisions and I help her choose colours.
3. Is there a challenge when working with another designer to get to a collection and maintain Nokian’s vision at the same time? How is it to work with another creative lady in general?
Like I said it has been easy with Julia. Nokian and Julia share the same design values and we trust her vision so it has gone smoothly all the way.
4. How long does it take to get from a sketch to a final concept?
The cycle is more or less half a year but usually we have a final approved prototype in approx. two months. If the prototype is accepted for production, it will reach shops after an additional year.
Question I had for Julia Lundsten:
1. Tell us about the Julia Lundsten signature you brought into this classic collection.
In my own line FINSK I like to work with traditional materials such as leather and wood but work on very modern shapes and details letting the materials own characteristics become part of the design, rather than adding ornaments or decoration. With Nokian, the material is also natural, rubber so it was a new but very interesting material for me to start working with. I treat it in many ways like leather, letting the natural rubber become a very central part of the design, and keeping everything else quite simple. I also wanted the shapes to be much more like leather boots rather than wellington boots which are much heavier, to create a rain boot for the city.
3. What is it like to have a huge name like Nokian asking you to create your own version of these classic and trendy boots?
It's of course a privilege, I think the best part is that Nokian have been very brave, and open minded about the product. Big companies can sometimes be a challenge to work with as they have so many rules to follow. But Nokian are the perfect client as they trust the designer with the designs, but bring in their own expertise on technical aspects and history, which is the reason the collaboration has worked so well.4. You stated that your collaboration with Nokian is a reflection of the Scandinavian style of dressing; can you explain a bit about that?
Scandinavian dressing is quite casual, urban and straight forward. I wanted these boots to fit with that mentality. Practical, simple and cool. There is also an open-mindedness towards new different product. In some countries wellington boots are regarded very much a "country weekend" type product, but I wanted these boots to function almost like waterproof trainers or casual shoes/boots, which I think the Scandinavians were quick to understand and appreciate.5. I assume you have a few pairs of these fashionable rain boots of your own, how do you style them?
It depends on the day! But it does rain a lot in London so I do wear them most weeks. I actually just wear my normal clothes (I dress quite a lot in black, grey and off white) and whatever mood I feel I either choose a more subtle black lace up boot or a colourful strap wedge if I want to add a little bit of a highlight colour to my outfit. I think of them as my leather boots, but when it rains I of course choose the Nokians.
Modern, functional, comfortable
7. Do you have a designer that you admire?
Many. Some of my favourites are Eero Saarinen and Alvar Aalto. They were both very brave and talented, doing something new at the time.
8. Are you working on something new?
I'm always working on something new! I have just finished the FINSK AW15/16 designs and already working on the next project. I don't have time to stop :)