We Are Underdogs: An Odyssey Of A Shoe
Each WAU pair comes along with a long history of how it was painstakingly crafted into being. Read on to explore the anatomy and design process behind the shoes.
Supporting and collaborating with numerous artists and designers worldwide, We Are Underdogs is all about bringing the triumphant characteristics of ‘Underdogs’ to the spotlight.
With each collaboration having an intriguing story to tell, the brand endeavours to maintain exclusivity without jeopardizing quality. They maintain their exclusivity by having a limited number of pieces produced in a collection or drop with some of their collaborations just having 500 pieces shipped globally. This ensures that every ‘Underdog’ consumer stands out in the crowd and feels connected to an exclusive sneaker community and experience.
As we dig deeper, we explore just how a shoe comes to life from an initial idea and sketch into a tangible sneaker, crafted in a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Portugal. Not every shoe has exactly the same design process, but to get a better idea of the creation, lets take a look at their latest offering - WAU X Seth Fowler: The Origin.
The collaboration between We Are Underdogs and Industrial Designer/Sneaker YouTuber Seth Fowler was his first signature sneaker.The initial expression of the shoe was designed by Seth himself and every material to be used in the shoe was hand-picked by him in Portugal at the factory. Every sneaker, before a final release gets a minimum of two samples - The Origin, got three.
Post the initial sketches and finalising the design development, the actual building of the shoe starts. It is imperative that every minute detail from here on is double checked to avoid any mistakes - even while making the sample.
Every masterpiece is built from the base up - which brings us to the heart and 'sole' of the shoe. The soles for every WAU shoe are made by a renowned Portuguese shoe sole manufacturing company called Itaflex. The Origin moved forward with a white moulded EVA cup sole, which ensures a better grip and doesn’t slip. For the sample, the sole was then taken to a second factory for further build up on the upper.
Next up, the pattern for the upper is analyzed for feasibility. The sketch is redrawn on a taped shoe, essentially transitioning the flat render to a 3-D draft of the shoe. Once redrawn, it is scanned into a computer which allows the designer to control the symmetry and alignment on both sides and make any other minor modifications, digitally.
Once mapped digitally and blueprinted, the next step in the ongoing build is the material selection. This particular shoe is an amalgamation of several different kinds of high quality, legally sourced leather from certified leather vendors spanning across Europe (Spain, Portugal & Italy) with 50% of the energy consumption coming from renewable energy sources.
A detail to look out for with this particular sneaker is the inner. Unlike most other shoes, this shoe doesn’t have a mesh inner, instead it has used some of the best, breathable leather. All the materials undergo a process called "scarfing", which essentially thins the sides of the leathers so that they can be sewn in together seamlessly. After this, the outer panels are finally sewn together to compile the upper.
While adding the upper, the pairs get debossed with the WAU logo branding and Seth Fowler’s signature on different parts of the shoe. A standout hand stitch stylised as two Xs on the double stitch can also be seen.
There is also padding grounding the ankle and the tongue by way of sandwiching foams in between the inner and outer and the lace-holes have to be punched through the leather. Further down the line, the machines press the upper and inner against the shoe to finally give it a consolidated form.
Metallic clasps are attached to the uppers and pulled by machines to get rid of any wrinkles or creases and the edges of the leather are hammered under the shoe. The completely formed upper is then ready to be glued and married to the cup sole with the sacred threads, making for an unbreakable bond.
This sample is not the finished product and still has to undergo minor changes before moving to production. However, the process pretty much sums up the design journey and framework of a WAU shoe. Catch the YouTube videos documenting the entire process - from concept to unboxing - on Seth Fowler's official channel. Stay tuned for more!