Having risen to reverence on the global sneaker scene following her disruptive graduate collection at London's Royal College of Art, END. lifts the lid on He
The first time I came across Helen Kirkum, I was idly scrolling through the 'Discover' page on Instagram. Cherry-picked by one of Zuckerberg's self-learning algorithms as relevant to my interests (spoiler: it was), Kirkum's bio read 'Footwear Artist' - a noteworthy departure from the 'designer' or 'customiser' box which young creatives are increasingly reticent to subscribe to. Unable to reduce themselves to anything singular in the age of the multihyphenate, where the tantalising ambiguity of the 'creative director' has replaced the strict definition of roles and division of labour favoured by the Baby Boomers.
In Kirkum's case, however, this characterisation is dead on. Like all good art, her work provokes discussion and Kirkum has used footwear as her canvas; carving a niche for herself by posing questions about what mass market footwear is and what it could be in days to come with her one of a kind iterations of sneaker silhouettes.
From her London Studio, Kirkum embodies the spirit of the hacker: reworking discarded sneakers with an emphasis on oft-forgotten craftsmanship to bring a human element back into our relationship with sneakers. Dubbed 'wearable couture collages', Kirkum fuses the processes of wearing and making by revisiting analogue, cut-and-paste techniques to produce footwear that works as it should.
Handmaking bespoke pieces and consulting for a roster of high-profile brands and clients, Kirkum established her studio in 2017 after spending a year cutting her teeth in the adidas design team. With a keen understanding of the adidas DNA, the Three Stripes commissioned Kirkum to apply her inimitable eye to one of their most technically advanced silhouettes: The Alphaedge 4D.
Recalibrating the future icon, Kirkum set out to produce a one-of-one prototype designed to highlight the beauty and diversity of adidas' materials.
"I worked with some keywords surrounding the Alpha Edge 4D, such as light, comfort, matrix, lattice, stability and controlled energy. This piece aims to exaggerate those concepts," Kirkam explains. "The Foam and knitted upper emphasises ideas traditionally associated with comfort in footwear, whilst the bespoke lattice made from laces replicates the sole, the complexity of the matrix and versatility of the material. Bringing the sole onto the upper not only highlights the complex beauty of the material but shows its strength and durability by interlocking the lace matrix with the Carbon 4D lattice."
adidas Originals AlphaEdge 4D