For my personal project at Puma, I wanted to create a gender neutral footwear collection for kids that abolished labels and gender-role stereotypes; allowing both parents and children to break away from the gender binary. My goal was to make children's footwear more inclusive and to create designs for not just boys and girls, but everyone in between.
I was inspired by Theresa Duncan's 90's computer game : Chop Suey. It was created for young girls as an alternative to traditional "girl games," but was equally appealing to both young boys and adults.
I created a color palette influenced by Alexander Girard's fabrics developed for Herman Miller. It is important to give children a choice and to show that they can be open to liking colors that are not stereotypically their gender.
Stereotypes are being reinforced at a crucial developmental stage and “modern parents realize how important it is to empower their kids to express themselves freely, rather than forcing them to fit artificial stereotypes.” -- Mintel
For the materials in my shoe line, I chose to use organic cotton and Pinatex pineapple "leather" for shoe uppers and organic cotton as a lining. In search of an alternative for foam insoles, I came across bamboo and charcoal fiber insoles. For styles with laces, BCI cotton will be used.
Choosing sustainable materials is important to me in the age of fast fashion, which generates millions of tons of waste in unsold and unwanted consumer goods each year.
I developed Bowser as a character to speak about diversity, feminism, and gender equality. Using color strategically, I wanted to challenge the association of certain roles and behaviors with gender.