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Q&A November, 13 2009

Selectism Q&A | Common Projects

The poster boys for minimalist footwear, Common Projects have gone from a ‘cult’ brand to a firmly established staple. Their pared down stylings were the antidote to the Bape-era of footwear when it launched in 2004 and they’ve gone from strength to strength with their seasonal and continuative lines. We caught up with Peter Poopat to ask about the new additions to the AW09 collection, their various collaborations and the challenge of creating something new.

Read the full interview after the leap.

Now that your aesthetic is so well established, is it a challenge to create something new that remains within your design boundaries?
It’s impossible. haha…Simplicity is certainly not easy and I guess that’s what we’ve become known for which is not a bad place to be. To make something simple that has integrity and a point of view is even harder. To create something simple with integrity and brand new, well…we try but it’s not our driving force.

Honestly, we try not to have any preconceived ideas of the line and consider it as sort of an evolution. In the process of evolution, something new comes along. We certainly appreciate where we’ve been and what it means to people but we’re always trying to look forward. So when it comes to boundaries, we try to keep it pretty open. The worst thing we could do is to stick to something that we’ve become accustomed to. In the end, we always throw it out there and then reel it back.

Can you walk us through the main AW09 additions?
FW09 is an example of us reeling back in and refining. For ss09 we developed a slew of new styles which we refined for aw09.

Where Spring is always a bit more playful, AW09 is a continuation of our notion of utility. We also made the offering more seasonal in terms of materials. We pushed the idea of crossover with models like the Training Boot with Zipper. The sneaker line sees updates using new and interesting materials that are fitting for the colder months. The palette is more subdued but not without color.

Something we’re really excited about are the dress shoes and especially the Officer’s Combat which is a riff on the traditional combat boot in more refined way and is sort of the grown up version of our Training Boot. The leather breaks in almost immediately. This will be a a new CP staple and we feel is non seasonal and should be in everyone’s arsenal.

Can you tell us more about the nylon, rubberised and slip-on oxford CP’s?

We’re always looking for new interesting materials that also make sense. The Safari Boot has been updated for winter with a water resistant light weight parachute nylon. We previously made this model in both canvas and leather but this style really called for a rag material that could hold up to the weather. The parachute nylon was a good fit.

For our classic Achilles models we introduced a rubber treated leather. This material is amazing in that it’s fine italian leather but then coated with a top layer of rubber. We always look at materials that not only look great straight out, but will wear in well over time. This material initially has the pristine look of rubber but over time will inherit the leather’s ability to fold and form.

We’ve continued with the evolution of our dress shoes line and I think this season has really shown the fruits of our labor. The Oxford Slip-Ons are personal favorites and work with just about any outfit you throw at it. They can be worn with or without laces so you can dress them up or down. I think people that traditionally wear sneakers on a daily basis can appreciate this. They’re shoes that should be worn daily and we’re using a leather that just gets better with more wear.

Can you tell us more about the CP Oxfords seen at Patrik Ervell’s AW09 show?
This was a limited collaboration that came very naturally. We’ve known Patrik for sometime and always appreciated his aesthetic. We contributed shoes for his SS09 show which just seemed to work seamlessly and we decided to make some for specially for AW09. The collaboration was a great way to do something we wouldn’t normally do and I think that’s makes them special. They’re definitely more directional and very Patrik Ervell. We produced a small run for select stores.

Can you tell us more about the bags seen in the collection (why you chose the shapes you chose, etc etc)?
As with everything we try to start from square one. Our Utility bag is definitely basic in that it’s pretty stripped down, flat and square but can adapt to many scenarios. The Duffle design is a little more elaborate but still a take on the traditional and very basic carry all gym bag which we found ourselves using for many purposes even meetings. Both can be used for play or work and we think work well for both. We felt both archetypes were iconic and also versatile for the modern professional.

How did the collaboration with Moscot come about?
Again, this collaboration came about quite naturally. We were both fans of each other and there was a story in GQ called New Standards that we were both in. We met, we decided and we made. I think for both parties, it was really the definition of a perfect collaboration and again, happened quite naturally.

Can you tell us more about how the wallets came about?
We have access to amazing italian materials and craftsmen. It just made sense. Every man needs a wallet.

Are there any further collaborations you can tell us about?
We try work on projects with people that we really like on things we really like. A collaboration for us takes time to perfect and although we’re committed to working on them, they need time to incubate. If they’re not ready, we don’t do it. We do have some great things in development. We hope they’re ripe by the time sales start.

What are the plans for CP’s future?
To keep making things we love and keep giving them to the world.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Common Projects wouldn’t be anything without its Common People. Thanks for your support.

Highsnobiety