King of Footwear Art Kobi Levi
Design and shoes have been Kobi Levi’s passion since his childhood in Tel Aviv, Israel. His first shoe designs were created during his high school days. They were made from cardboard back then. Following his passion, in 2001 he graduated from Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design, Jerusalem. Since his graduation Kobi worked as a freelance footwear designer. During this time Kobi learned the trade secrets of shoe development and craftsmanship. For his own leisure Kobi designed unique, creative and innovative shoe styles, which challenge the standard definitions of design, art and fashion to create a niche of their own. These footwear art creations were uploaded to a blog Kobi started in April 2010. Soon the blog took on a life of its own and reactions streamed in from all over the world. This over-night exposure brought Lady Gaga to use the design Double Boot in her “Born this Way” music video.
Lady Gaga wearing design by Kobi Levi "Double Boot" in her “Born this Way” music video
Worldwide attention and publications led to a growing demand for Kobi’s artistic styles. His email inbox filled almost overnight with thousands of requests from all over the world, asking where the unique shoes can be purchased. In July 2011 Kobi opened his studio in Tel Aviv and started to offer his original designs for sale. In the studio he creates, develops and produces limited editions from his designs. All pairs are made by hand from high-quality materials.
24FashionTV had the honor to sit down with the designer for an exclusive interview.
24FashionTV: When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a fashion designer?
Kobi Levi: I was always fascinated with things around us, and was questioning why they look and were made the way they are, various things we use in our daily life. I was curious about how objects were designed as well as technically made to achieve both look and function. Fashion and accessories are the closest products we use, they represent us, we choose what to wear to reflect our personality, and they go with us wherever we go, so I guess that was what appealed to me to focus on.
Kobi Levi shoes "Banana"
What made you choose to design shoes specifically?
Shoes have a life with and without the body, I see shoes as a sculpture, an art piece that comes to life when worn, but can be admired on display as well. We can see its place on "us" as well, and this is why so many people are drawn to shoes. I was extremely curious how the intricate shapes of footwear were achieved as well, and the techniques are fascinating.
Kobi Levi shoes "Maskshoe"
Where do you usually find creative inspiration for your shoe designs?
The same place where I got my curiosity to create our daily life, everything around us: objects, nature, animals, plants, media, architecture... Every aspect of life can be an inspiration when shown in a new light. An idea can "pop-out" from a conversation, a visual association, or just like that without knowing what brought it out, and I work with iconic, familiar images to show what I saw in my mind - a new point of view.
Kobi Levi shoes "Harp"
What is fashion to you?
As mentioned before, it is a "tool" for self-expression, we add to our own look, "design" ourselves to represent who we are. If we wear things that are not fit to our personality it will be like acting, wearing a costume, which is ok if this is what someone is choosing or as a profession.
Kobi Levi shoes "Chameleon"
How is working in fashion different today than from when you started out?
Things are getting faster and faster, and designs are being shown everywhere, especially online and through social media. It is great that it is easy for a designer to expose the work, on the other hand they are endless images all the time. It is, as always, important to find your original point of view, this is what will differentiate one from the general things. A unique and original approach is the key to an innovative creation.
Kobi Levi shoes "Pencil"
What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
Social media creates a direct conversation with people who follow my work, which is amazing! I can see people's comments and answer their inquiries, it is interesting to see what connects them to my work, and it is motivating to see how people are happy and expressing it when seeing my designs - very flattering!
Kobi Levi shoes "Cherry"
What do you think about sustainable fashion? Should fashion be more sustainable?
Yes! Definitely! I think it starts with quantity, why produce tons of products if they will not be sold and end up just polluting the planet?! Reasonable quantities, according to need, are the first step, and environmentally friendly materials as well. I think buying less with better quality, which costs a bit more, is better than buying more things that will last a shorter time. We have fast fashion in our reality for a while now, its strong point is affordable items that are easy to purchase, which is an important thing to have as well, but I think it should be achieved with considering the environmental cost as well.
Kobi Levi shoes "High-end Sneakers "
What is your favorite part about being a shoe designer?
The best part is having a good idea and seeing it being "born". The first time I saw a new design complete was an amazing feeling, I got addicted to it and I cannot stop!
Kobi Levi shoes "Coffee"
How do you want women to feel when wearing your shoes?
They should feel amazing about themselves, the way they should in any case but with wearing footwear art they emphasize their uniqueness without hiding their look behind a costume. As said, the wearer makes the shoes feel natural and "make sense" as the personality can carry it.
Kobi Levi shoe "Miao"
What comes next for Kobi Levi?
Hopefully endless creativity... more and more designs, shows and collaborations.
Editor, 24Fashion TV