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Design, With Skill: Tristan Blair

Shoes are an area of fashion design which require a certain level of craftmanship to perfect, and it is exactly this element that makes its creators the very definition of artisans. In Sydney, Tristan Blair is perhaps the only name that adequately stands out above the surplus of rip-off chain stores and unoriginal concepts, producing covetable collections season after season since his launch into the market in 2006. A background as a sheet metal fabricator has blessed Tristan with an innate dexterity as a shoe designer, and this combined with a passionate design ethos has laid the strong foundation for his self-titled label. His hands on approach to his trade has been translated into beautiful products in the world of fashion, proving yet again that vision is nothing without skill – but the synergy of the two combined is true design.

Mastering the art of bringing different shapes and materials together through his career as a trade turned out to be a huge precedent for the Tristan Blair label, and its influence can be found in the brand’s quality and attention to detail. As Tristan puts it, “when I was doing the apprenticeship about 60% of it was in the classroom drawing and plotting patterns, so it was very much relevant in that aspect”. He jokes that “now all I am able to do is build a tin man with a nice pair of brogues”, but it is clear that Tristan would not be where he is were it not for his taste – and his consistent allegiance to the fact that his job is to create beautiful things.

“Everything is design relevant; you cannot escape the realm of detail once you embark on this path. There are so many more aspects of running an accessories label than just designing shoes, so everything I do has design consideration.”

Mechanics aside, his double existence has also afforded him with “a strong working platform and ethic to adhere to. Working in that industry is extremely hard on your body and mind so when times get tough now I just look back at what was happening 5 years ago and this makes me keep on going.” It’s a period of time in which Tristan confesses he has learnt an enormous amount, particularly as there are no suitable factories in Australia. Seeing as he has just produced his first range made entirely in Italy, the amount of knowledge he has gained has clearly put him in the same game as his international counterparts.

“Manufacturing in Italy has always been the dream,” he says when asked to reflect on his latest progress. “Its the pinnacle of quality and the factory I use is 100% Italian made. This was a major requirement of what I set out to achieve.”

Although he claims that designing shoes was “the obvious option for a twenty year old male skater”, Tristan has always had a strong philosophy behind his label – one that he has made a point to remain true to since he began it. As he is someone who has arguably elevated the status of Australian shoe design, it is evident that his vision is one that was meant to be shared.

words: Seema Duggal


July 22, 2010 at 12:43 AM Jade Carver said...

Oh God, why don't I live in Sydney?!

August 23, 2010 at 2:28 PM Cellina Prosser said...

I love these, I have a similar pair I say are like walking in furniture! Ah Design! xx

August 24, 2010 at 12:22 PM p.reisnakov said...

this is the state of the world now? even something as fickle and shallow as fashion is art? Ayn Rand predicted it and here we are, how sad...

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