Design Desk: Native Shoes Mark Gainor On New Apollo
Following a change in ownership, Native Shoes is gearing up for a major expansion with their EVA-based footwear. Since taking the reins at the company last year, CEO Scott Hawthorn recently brought back the brand’s designer, Mark Gainor, to carve out the artistic future of Native. Gainor was originally with Native when the brand launched in 2009 and was brought on as creative director in 2013.
Aside from Native, Mark has worked with Ransom by Adidas, Stussy, and Garrett Leight, among others. With the launch of its new shoe this season, the Apollo, during Agenda Long Beach, the brand has been garnering a fair bit of attention from streetwear fashion outlets like Hypebeast and footwear fans alike. The Apollo will make its retail debut at Kith NYC, and several other select sneaker shops for Spring/Summer 15. We caught up with Gainor to hear the details behind the vision and creation of Native’s new shoe.
What does it mean to you to return to Native as creative director?
It means a lot to me, the chance to come back and work to realize the full potential of the brand is something I am really excited about.
What specific key lessons did you take away from working with big brands such as Stussy and adidas?
People are everything. Big brand or a single person start-up, having a clear line of communication with the people or person who holds the vision for the brand is key. With Stussy, being able to communicate directly with David and the rest of his team really made it feel like I was working with a small brand.
What are your immediate priorities/projects in jumping back in to the creative direction behind Native?
Keep the “keep it lite” propaganda machine turning. We have a new website launching. The Native Tongue Volume 1 is going to drop this summer and we are working with The Madbury Club on some new Nativision pieces, which I think people are going to trip out on. Also, continuing to work with people we find inspiring. We really have the best partners and collaborators in the world, it’s a good time.
Talk more about the new Apollo shoe that is launching? What has been the development process around that?
The Apollo has been really rewarding to design and develop. Native had such a strong entry to the market in 2009 we knew we needed to follow up with something impactful and fresh but still be 100% Native. Before any sketching or ideation we spent a long time figuring out what was the real essence of the brand. It was clearly deeper then EVA and what we came up with was an ideology we call “Future Classics.” We merge inspiration and appreciation of classic footwear with the most progressive, future-forward materials and construction.
For the Apollo program we selected the moccasin and chukka boot. Two iconic, classic silhouettes, and re-imagined them using ultra lite breathable micro fiber (gotta keep it beast free), single piece pattern, no-sew welded construction, and a 3-piece blown EVA outsole. The end result of this Future Classic concept was a fresh take on a classic, and most importantly that they look and feel like a Native shoe.
What direction are you hoping to take the brand in the next 12 months?
We are going to get more Lite. More Future. More classic. A bunch of new products and styles are in the pipeline— it’s going to be a good year.
Take a spin through the different options for the new Apollo shoe: