NFT Project MLLN Founders Talk Rethinking Footwear With Zellerfeld

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Can the combination of virtual reality, 3D printing and NFT allow independent shoe companies to compete with the giants of the shoe industry? This is what MLLN seeks to find out.

Graphic designers and footwear veterans founded MLLN in 2022 as a digital design company with the goal of disrupting the footwear industry from the shoe, starting with the web3.

On November 14, MLLN launched its MLLNPass, hitting 3,000 NFTs at 0.03 ETH. Each NFT includes both the MLLNPass, lifetime digital membership to MLLN services (including priority printing, discounts, early access, exclusive merchandise, etc.) and a unique sneaker design.

MLLN will physically produce many of the 3,000 sneakers it has made NFT with Zellerfeld’s state-of-the-art 3D printing capabilities, which uses Zellerfeld’s custom foot scanner to mold the shoes in skin-safe latex so that they perfectly match the foot of the wearer.

The MLLNPass collection was designed by Joey Khamis and Finn Rush-Taylor, whose respective backgrounds bring an interesting dynamic to MLLN.

Rush-Taylor’s resume includes adidas, Puma and Vivobarefoot, for example, highlighting a balance between form and function. During this time, Khamis started at Columbia Sportswear, then at Reebok where he designed the Classic Leather Cardio for Cardi B (among others) before becoming a designer for YEEZY.

While their history is based on working for established brands, MLLN’s future lies in leveling the playing field between independent designers and industry stalwarts, they tell Highsnobiety.

“Our Discord has about 1,200 people and there are so many shoe designers collaborating on it,” Khamis said. “Some of them have jobs in the industry, others are trying to get jobs. I think MLLN is going to help connect designers and show that there is no right or wrong way to proceed.

MLLN’s partnership with Zellerfeld places him in a unique class of collaborators alongside Kidsuper, Heron Preston and Ye. These relationships have helped put Zellerfeld on the map, so it’s nice to see them leveraging that fame to boost independent designers like MLLN.

“The creative freedom and independence I need to come up with ideas is what excites me. [working with Zellerfeld]continues Khamis.

“Zellerfeld is pretty much made-to-measure shoes. We find that you can gauge public interest in different shoes by posting concepts online and then drawing on that feedback for the actual design.

“We’ve had people in our DMs over the past two years begging us for shoes,” Rush-Taylor added. “They don’t realize that if you go the traditional manufacturing route, it’s an investment of at least $100,000”

Later, Rush-Taylor reiterated Khamis’ sentiment of connecting with other designers on Discord, emphasizing the power of the production feedback process.

“If you’re going the traditional shoemaking route, you’re not really showing your product until it’s released. You’re taking a huge financial risk without even knowing if people will actually want it,” Rush-Taylor explained.

“My goal is to release a design on Monday and if people like it, put it on sale on Friday. It will be small runs, maybe 500 pairs; we have a lot of creative freedom there.

Beyond aesthetics, Rush-Taylor notes that Zellerfeld’s abilities also allow MLLN to create shoes that are much more ergonomic (a subject he learned a lot about at Vivobarefoot). Because Zellerfeld’s app performs an in-depth analysis of your feet, MLLN’s designs are flexible enough to avoid standardized sizing.

“In the industry, standard sizes are a big deal,” Rush-Taylor said.

“Everything about shoes is based on aesthetics, made to look fast. But that can cause bunions, shin splints and knee problems. It all starts with the foot. That’s why Zellerfeld’s custom fit is a huge bonus.

Smartly designed, community-influenced 3D-printed shoes could be a model for more independent sneaker designers to follow. This model could shift the way sneakers are produced away from excess waste created for mass appeal. If successful, MLLN won’t be the only company going this route. Again, that’s the goal.

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