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Helen Kirkum debuts first ready-to-wear sneaker at LFW

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

Sep 27, 2022

Fashion |In Pictures

Image: Helen Kirkum by Bernhard Deckert

Helen Kirkum, known for creating new sneakers from repurposing old ones, unveiled her first ready-to-wear sneaker at her London Fashion Week presentation.

Until now, the Helen Kirkum Studio has been known for its made-to-order service and collaborations, but the new ‘Palimpsest’ sneaker will offer fans a ready-to-wear style featuring her signature split-sole design with unique mismatched fore and rear sole components.

“My goal has always been to create an easy-to-wear, everyday sneaker with a rich material story behind it,” said Kirkum in the show notes. “To create something that we recognise but are not used to seeing. The stories of the materials are deeply ingrained within each pair, with layers of memories and textures. As always with our studio, I wanted to create the feeling of bespokeness, so each one is still unique.”

Image: Helen Kirkum by Bernhard Deckert

‘Palimpsest’ sneakers are primarily made from repurposed and recycled materials sourced from within the EU and the UK, explained Kirkum, and to use as much recycled material as possible, the sole makes use of Forplas Recy, made of 100 percent industrial waste, and Everloop IG, which contains 30 percent industrial waste, and was produced by Portuguese manufacturer Forever.

Helen Kirkum launches new ‘Palimpsest’ sneaker

Image: Helen Kirkum by Bernhard Deckert

The sneakers themselves will be made in England by Sheffield-based footwear manufacturer Goral with uppers created from materials repurposed from discarded single sneakers sourced from Traid Warehouse, a charity and longstanding partner of the studio that works to tackle the social and environmental problems caused by making, consuming, and wasting clothes. The footwear designer adds that the uppers are stitched by Love Welcomes, an organisation that provides meaningful, compensated work to refugee women.

The ‘Palimpsest’ also features a corn leather lining, insoles made from 98 percent recycled content, and heel tabs created from single multicoloured laces collected during the material hunting process.

In addition, in an ode to the process of making, the tongue label has the stitch lines designed into the graphic and the stitching in red in reference to the red pen used by the factory to correct errors. The phrases “Made in England” and “An artefact crafted from single shoes” appear on the tongue label.

Image: Helen Kirkum by Bernhard Deckert

The ‘Palimpsest’ sneaker is available for pre-order on the designer’s website for 590 pounds, and a wider release is planned for November, which will also include a retail partner.

London-based footwear designer Kirkum graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2016 and won the International Talent Support Accessories Award and the International Talent Support Vogue Talents Award with her graduate collection. Her hacked and deconstructed aesthetic within the sneaker industry has also led her to collaborate with some of the biggest names in footwear including Adidas, Reebok, Timberland, Lacoste, Nike and Yeezy.

Image: Helen Kirkum by Bernhard Deckert
Image: Helen Kirkum by Bernhard Deckert
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