London fashion week is well underway, and what better way to wind down the busy evening than with a new Helen Kirkum creation — who was previously featured on Sole Mates. The sneaker customizer has established herself as both a deconstructor and rebuilder, specializing in made-to-order footwear. At her studio, participants can drop off a few rusty kicks near and dear to their hearts, and Kirkum will mash them up into a remarkable 1-of-1 creation. Utilizing fabric and consumer waste found in TRAID charity bins, she employs upcycled materials for use throughout her designs.
For the Spring/Summer 2023 season, Helen Kirkum joins the BFC’s Newgen cohort and unveils her first ready-to-wear sneaker available for pre-order. Dubbed “Palimpsest,” the sneaker pays tribute to its homeland through exclusive English production. The design maintains Kirkum’s identifiable design spirit, as each pair is completely unique and sees a build derived from repurposed sneaker parts. It is truly a shoe with a cause, as all materials have been sourced from TRAID warehouses and sewn together by the hands of refugee women.
Meant for everyday wear, uppers don a predominantly white leather base with exposed stitching throughout, beige suede lacing systems and yellowed heel caps. Off-centered tongue tags read “Made in England” and “An artifact crafted from single shoes,” while heel tabs made from worn-out laces complete the design, along with split sole unites produced from 100% industrial waste.
Speaking exclusively to Hypebeast, Kirkum said:
“We wanted to create our first ready-to-wear sneaker, but our version of a luxury white leather sneaker with all of the HK twists that people have come to know from us. I think it’s really important to obviously use the reused materials and that makes it super cool because every single pair will be different. Even if the silhouette is the same, the body is going to be different and so are the right and left.
It took so long to understand how we can actually create this into a tangible system. How can we create a system? How can we utilize the material? Now we’ve got it, the world is our oyster. We have the system and the factories so now we can start doing different colorways and silhouettes.”
“Palimpsest” is available for pre-order now until September 25 via Helen Kirkum’s website. The sneaker will see a wider release in late November via Helen Kirkum’s website for £590 GBP (approximately $675 USD).