story written by Chloe Bensahel
photography by Adrianna Favero
fashion styling by Seth Friedermann
hair and makeup by Claire Marshall
model is Karolina Nevia from Fusion (NY)
Putting on a United Nude shoe is an experience. You are immediately aware that you are not just wearing a shoe, but rather a sculpture. It should then come as no surprise that its creator, Rem D. Koolhaas, defines his brand as a “lifestyle brand.” After all, a shoe changed his life; why can’t it change yours?
Mr. Koolhaas is quick to open up about the birth of the brand, which came about after a broken heart. In the hopes of winning back his girl, he created the Mobius shoe, carrying around his cardboard model for her to try on. To this day, Koolhaas is still a romantic, and sees design a product of emotion in the hopes of making people happy. Koolhaas’ designs are definitely human-centric. The United Nude shoe does not overpower your foot, but rather supports it, working with the roundness of your heel, the arch of your foot. Even those that make grander statements do so in a more understated fashion, where the shoe may look ordinary but surprise you once see it from behind.
“If we can inspire and create interest or happiness that is the end goal. I think that’s what design is: Creating things that people are happy about. It’s emotional.”
Regardless of the shoes’ fashionable qualities, Koolhaas admits never having been inspired by the fashion industry, but believes that it is in a state of change. He goes on to describe, with excitement, the rise of intellectualism in fashion and design. Undoubtedly, the speed created by technology has made information more readily available, ultimately reducing the power that fashion publications have always had over the industry. Koolhaas believes that United Nude fits into a new climate that has been created by this technological revolution, in which consumers have become increasingly critical of the things they buy.
“You can create something that’s really durable and designed well. Timeless design and good quality of making is sustainable.”
Despite the brand’s variety of product, Koolhaas admits that he is more interested in creating a “million pair shoe,” or a million-sale model, in order to showcase who he is to the world. Koolhaas, however, is one to choose quality over quantity, advocating that “people will eventually focus on key items that last longer, on specific items that are here to stay.” He argues that it’s because United Nude is involved in a plethora of collaborations, that it does not fit a single box, but rather an array of boxes. It is neither a design firm nor a fashion brand. It is neither of the past nor of the future. It’s just a little bit of both.