Clae is steadily making a name as a premier leisure-wear shoe brand. Re-animating classic styles with new fabrics, colours and ideas, label-boss Sung Choi has been hitting all the right notes, creating a much needed alternative for the stylish modern gentlemen. Appearing in a great interview last month, Choi gave some great insights into his creative process. Here is an excerpt. For the full transcript, visit The Malcolm. BTW, you can check out the current Clae range right here at Hype DC.

Did you know you always wanted to be in the footwear realm of fashion?
It was a really natural progression for me as a designer. I sold sneakers as a teen at Paragon in New York City, while studying industrial design at Brooklyn Tech high school. Studying industrial design gave me basic knowledge of design and mold making, but it wasn’t something I immediately pursued due to immigrant parental pressures of wanting to see their only son succeed in the “business” world. Lucky for me, by following my bliss I met some creatives which led me to graphic design then to apparel and finally, footwear design. It was an organic progression going from 2D based design to 3D, not necessarily planned, but a journey that came together full circle.

What do you try to keep in mind when designing new CLAE products?
That we’re looking to provide a solution to the lack of versatile, stylish and comfortable footwear. And the more abstract equation of what people will want 12-18 months ahead of time. We are very much in tune with by dismantling, transforming and recreating and also discovering new possibilities with shape, color and material all with current needs and moods in mind.

How would you describe the current state of men’s footwear?
I think footwear has been moving towards a more simplified, classic style; we see Chuck Taylor’s and classic Vans everywhere and lines like Sperry and Red Wing have definitely surged in popularity. Is it time to move forward though? I think it is. I see a slow shift at first, but full of much needed, new possibilities.

What do you see as the future of men’s footwear?
I think it’ll be interesting with so many new independents with people behind them who are very passionate about the product they bring. I’m curious to see how the consumers react.