DMU students get creative during the COVID crisis and show that sneaker store size? really does matter


While lockdown may have meant heading home before the end of term and then staying indoors for weeks on end, it didn’t stop Footwear Design students from De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) showing off their creative flair thanks to a partnership with prestigious trainer retailer size?.

The company, which has stores in 30 European countries, set final year students the task of inspiring shoppers and their extensive social media following with sustainable and exciting ways to customize products and think creatively during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Brandon with his customised trainers

The students took to the task like ducks to water, ordering products from the size? range – sent to them for free - then cutting, lacing, threading and decorating items to fashion something completely new.

The results delighted size? with spokesperson Dan Langhorn saying: “It was exactly what we had hoped to see and they surpassed all expectations. This showcased not only the students’ talents but, as per the brief, they are inspiring people to create their own custom items from home in these strange times.”

All of the designs by the six footwear students are being featured on the size? website and being shared across social media, giving them a profile most young designers could only dream of.

size? is also sponsoring the Graduate Fashion Week Footwear Design Award and eight of the ten finalists are from the DMU Footwear Design course.


Finn's bag made of Nike cargo shorts

Finn Taberer, a final year student from Coventry, is currently featured on the size? website after turning red Nike ACG Cargo Shorts and black Nike ACG Cargo Trousers into a neat side bag and tote bag. 

He said: “Throughout quarantine I was determined to keep busy by designing and wanted to bring old clothing to life in new ways. It was a really fun project.

“With term ending in the way it did it has been a great opportunity for us to get some really good exposure. It was crazy when I saw I was featured by size?. I went on to their Instagram account and saw my designs and just thought ‘wow’.”


Finn loves customising clothing 

Fellow Footwear Design student Esme Whitelam loves bright colours and incorporates them into everything from customising her own clothing to dyeing her hair. She ordered a plain white pair of classic Nike Air Force One trainers and used off-cuts from her course as well as other materials she found to turn them into something totally wild.


Esme is a hufe fan of bright colours

Esme said: “I wanted to create something completely different to what people may have seen before. I love taking old things apart and coming up with something new.

“I have always loved colour. Throughout my course everything I designed was bright and full of contrasting colours and it was like a trademark running through everything I did.


Esme transformed white Nike Air Force One trainers

“I love the idea of being individual and sending out a message of ‘this is who I am’. I live in a pretty quiet town in Lincolnshire and I definitely stand out! We obviously don’t go out much at the moment but I have worn the trainers in town once and I wear them in the garden a lot.”

Brandon Haley, from Leeds, ordered two pairs of trainers and two hoodies before setting to work customising them.

The trainers were pink and blue Nike ACGs and blue and white 70’s-style Nike Waffle Racers. He used techniques taught on the course to create a new pair of trainers and drew on influences from Kiko Kostadinov’s work with another brand, Stussy.

He then pulled the hoodies apart and created a totally new look by joining the contrasting sections together, placing the logos in different areas and designing new pockets, while putting the size? logo on the back.


Brandon, who has had a love for trainers since he was very young, said: “I think a lot more brands should do what size? are doing. They are such a big influencer and this is great exposure.”

Finn and Brandon are also discussing working together after they graduate to customise more footwear and clothing.

Brandon added: “It just seems right that we have been surrounded by creative people for the last three years at DMU and why don’t we collaborate while being creative.”

Finn, Esme and Brandon all said they had loved studying Footwear Design.

Finn said: “It was a brilliant course. I absolutely loved it and it was the best decision I ever made to study Footwear Design at DMU. The tutors were great teacher and so professional.”

Esme added: “The course was amazing. It surpassed anything I thought it might be. The tutors and technical staff are incredible. I don’t believe I would have enjoyed it as much at any other university.”


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Footwear Design students Louie Bond and Elliott Strausa have also featured on the size? website. Louie gives a masterclass on painting classic Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars while Elliott customizes a pair of New Balance 997Hs.

Dan from size? explained how the footwear giant had started a partnership with DMU which led to setting the task for students.

He said: “When size? set about the task of linking up with the most creative universities in the UK a few years ago, DMU featured high on the list.

“This summer we are thrilled to finally partner with an institution that has such a great and decorated history as being one of the top destinations in the world for design and the next generation of creatives, and we hope to carry this on in years to come.

Linking up with DMU on our ‘size? captures: Creator Series’ is what we hope to be the first of many projects with the university in order to give an industry platform to their students.

“Further to this, with size? being sponsors of Graduate Fashion Week’s Footwear Design Award for 2020, it was also great to see eight out of the 10 shortlisted nominees are representatives of De Montfort, which again confirms the calibre of the university and, most importantly, the students we are collaborating with.”

Posted on Tuesday 30th June 2020

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