“We Want to Be the Vans or the Dr Martens of the Future”
Shoes from the future, with a detour through the 90’s. This is how the American next gen sneaker brand shoes 53045 describe themselves. Fronted by Balenciaga’s Triple-S co-designer David Tourniaire and fashiontech exec Aurelia Ammour, the brand takes inspiration from pop culture and subcultures from the 90’s and 00’s, and beautifully merges physical sneakers with digital collectibles. Will the current NFT market crash set the scene for a phygital fashion breakthrough or the other way around?
You’re working with phygital footwear – can you explain the vision of buying a pair of 53045 sneakers?
– We are a next gen sneaker brand creating iconic sneakers with utilities and immersive experiences with a seamless experience. In the next few months, we will be 100% based on blockchain technology. All our collectible drops (collab, special editions), digital only and phygital are already NFT with utilities. From our next drop and for all upcoming physical productions, all phygital pairs will include a NFC chip that will allow each owner to scan the shoes and activate their pair on the blockchain and unlock utilities (like wearables, private discount on our permanent collection, etc…)
With a manufacturing component compared to digital footwear that can be modified in seconds, how does your physical line keep up to speed?
– Both are two different approaches. Digital design is faster and allows more creativity as everything is possible. Physical design and manufacturing are more complicated. The design can be very creative but it requests to be a footwear expert as there are up to 30 components in a shoe and we have to take into consideration the sizing, the fit & comfort, the ergonomy, the material etc…
We make high-end high-tech sneakers that last, handcrafted in one of the best traditional factories that has been working for years for the most prestigious luxury brands. We are not a fast fashion brand and we are also not making basic sneakers.
– High-quality products take time to make: once the product development is done, it takes 3 months from the purchase order to the delivery to our warehouse. People are fine and used to waiting for 3 months for premium/ luxury products. Other phygital brands take more time like 5 to 8 months so 3 months is finally not bad. Of course, we would like to be able to reduce this lead time as all our upcoming phygital drops will be based on pre-orders but the technology is not here yet.
Factories of the future working on fastest on demand productions don’t allow yet to make this type of sneakers. They make very simple sneakers.
3D printing is great (we use it for some specific parts of our shoes). The future of 3D printing is promising in a lot of spaces. Right now, it only allows to do small batches and it has some limitation in terms of materials. It also doesn’t allow us as of today for the midsole and outsole to reach the same level of comfort of our bubble sole we have engineered for 2 years on our shoes. However, it’s going to evolve and in the future, we like to imagine everyone having a 3D printer at home and being able to print the shoes they buy.
You’ve earlier said you take inspiration from cyberpunk and science fiction aesthetics in your brand and design. Who is your current typical customer?
– We take inspiration from the pop culture and subcultures in general from the 90’s and ’00, from music, movies, comics, video games, parties and all sorts of oddball objects. Cyberpunk and Sci-Fi are aesthetics we like a lot to rework in a more futuristic way and on a digital art form but not only. Every campaign is very different. Here is a recap of all our previous campaigns.
Our customers are 40% GenZ and 50% millennials (the rest is GenX, most often parents of GenZ buying shoes for them), urban, living mainly in Asia and North America, who like to express themselves in fashion. They wear Luxury and streetwear brands like Balenciaga, Off-White, Ambush, MISBHV, 99 Percentis and sport brands like Adidas and Nike.
Serving both digital-only adopters as well as sneaker nerds, how do you bridge these two communities?
– Phygital sneakers are the best way to bridge these two communities. Digital-only adopters also like to redeem a physical pair/ physical twin
Physical sneaker nerds like to redeem the digital twin. In the next few years, it will be the same community. At the end of the day, they will all buy a pair of shoes with the flexibility to buy sometimes digital only and sometimes phygital. Thanks to Discord, we invite them at our table to discuss our design, our development, the future of sneakers etc…
21/22 certainly has been a transformative period for virtual products and NFT:s. What are your biggest learnings looking back?
– It has been a lot of experimentation for all of us. Our biggest learning is to make it simple and stop to use technical terms or a complicated process to buy a NFT, that scares people. If we want Web 3 and digital and phygital products to be mainstream and accelerate digital adoption: 1) we should even stop using the word NFT. 2) we need to highlight and promote more the benefits like ownership, authenticity, utilities and community and make all discovery and purchase experience seamless.
How does the current situation on the crypto market affect your strategies moving forward?
– This period of bear market and recession in general is clearly not the best period for sales especially for small brands. However, this is the best period to: 1) build our vision to be ready when the market will get better. 2) engage and grow our community 3) increase our brand awareness.
What phygital fashion experiences would you like to see in 2023?
– The purpose of web 3 being to empower creators, I would like to see more fashion collabs between big IPs/ brands and creators/ small brands bridging physical and digital.
Shoes 53045 collaboration with American rapper Rico Nasty
What exciting developments can we expect from shoes 53045 in the near future?
We have some exciting projects in progress:
– This project to be 100% on the blockchain by integrating a nfc chip in all our shoes to bridge physical and digital, provide ownership and unlock utilities.
– A co-creation platform on Discord using generative text to image AI
– The store 3.0: a physical experiential store offering a unique VR / AR journey to discover, experience and buy digital or phygital sneakers.
– Amazing collabs with some cool IPs.
Who would you love to see wearing your sneakers?
We want everyone to wear our shoes:-) We want to be the Vans or the Dr Martens of the future in a premium, vegan and web3 version.
If you mean in terms of personality / celebrity, we are already very lucky to have some of the coolest artists and personalities wearing our shoes from music artists like Lil Nas X, Lizzo, Avril Lavigne, Robert Smith to bestselling authors like Michael Cunningham or Jay Shetty, actors and personality like Gigi Hadid, Noah Schnapp, Laverne Cox etc…
There are so many more we would love to see wearing them. Politicians like Barack Obama, Kamala Harris (both would wear so well our Sneak’Air) Music queens like Beyonce, Rihanna, Madonna, Cardi B … New music icons like Black Pink, Machine Gun Kelly, Grimes, Yungblud … Athlete icons like Serena Williams, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo …