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Christopher Shannon's New Kicks

The designer collaborates with Kickers, his latest reimagining of established youth codes

Collaborating with Kickers is nothing less than intuitive for Christopher Shannon. Succeeding the runaway success of his Eastpak co-branded line, he's gradually reworking established codes relevant to British youth and style culture brand-by-brand. This time the Liverpudlian designer nods to Madchester, the French shoe being a key staple in the baggy scene as well as inspiring home turfers The Farm, who dressed a sheep in Kick His on the sleeve of double A-side Stepping Stone/Family of Man. Dazed Digital spoke to Shannon about reimagining and the appeal of the accessible.

Dazed Digital: What are your memories of Kickers as a teenager?
Christopher Shannon:
The girls at school wore pastelly ones. And then there's the Madchester scene and looking up to that as something really desirable, my mum coming home from nightclubs in Manchester and playing all the music in the kitchen, good memories. Kickers sort of sit there for me, alongside Gio Goi and Troop. I think they are much more a Mancunian shoe than a Liverpudian one – Liverpool was still very much about sportswear and the casuals whereas Manchester was studenty and all about the baggies. I always think of the Stone Roses first, although there is that great image from one of The Farm records with the sheep in Kickers, I LOVE The Farm, probably the best Liverpool band of the era, with The La's and The Real People. I think it's the cover of Stepping Stone which actually we used for our catwalk music a few seasons ago. They were definitely a shoe you wore when in you were into the scene, never really a scally shoe.

DD: Tell us about your collaboration – Spring/Summer 13 is the second season...
Christopher Shannon:
The first season, which was Autumn/Winter 12, I really just wanted a classic Kickers look but updated and maybe a bit harder. For Spring/Summer 13 we had more time so I just moaned and moaned until they helped me source as many usable qualities as possible. I wanted all the newness to be in the fabrication and finish, when you have quite an iconic and classic shoe style you want to retain that but make people see it in a new light. When the models would try them on in the studio they would all talk about how they wore Kickers at school but now they all wanted a pair of the new ones. Thats really kind of the point of the whole thing, updating and reimagining.

DD: Aside from Kickers, you've also collaborated with Eastpak, another staple amongst youth tribes. Is it appealing to work with brands so ingrained in our culture?
Christopher Shannon:
The appeal lies in the aspect of working with something accessible, so you take that and try and do something with it that puts it ahead of its current state. With Eastpak, that first proper season with the embossed multi coloured vinyl, I wanted to keep the quality of the brand but push it as far as I could. I thought I'd blown it and that they were too gross but they really worked, we couldn't sell enough of them. That's my favorite thing, that element of surprise and also seeing that people are willing to move forward and take a few risks. Also it's doing something a bit risky with the design but still keeping it relevant, whch is actually really tricky, if you go too far it ceases to be relevant apart from to a few people in fashion. As a designer I think a lot of the time you are reimagining how the world could look, so now when I'm around London instead of seeing people with plain Eastpak rucksacks on I see them with ours on, in a way the world is changing into that vision. And it's the same with Kidda, it's kind of overplayed but so much stuff is generic I suppose I like it when things have a bit more identity – otherwise how do we identify the time we live in?

Christopher Shannon S/S13 Menswear photography
Leonn Ward
Film processing Lomography London