Part of the collection Sexual Selection, 2015.

Niki’s final MA Footwear capsule collection Sexual Selection’ inspired by Birds of Paradise, is made up of six pairs of handcrafted unisex shoes that allow the wearer to seduce their infatuation. She is interested in the recent cultural phenomenon of gender identity in fashion today because it opens up the discussion of acceptance and removes dated stereotypes of traditional gender roles and sexuality. Wishing to participate in this movement, her collection is made up of handcrafted shoes that transcend gender boundaries, allowing, men, women and people who associate as agender, bigender, transgender, pangender, genderfluid, genderqueer, etc., to feel confident and seductive wearing these shoes. Contrarily to other designers exploring this concept, she aspires to make the individual feel unique rather than neutral or uniform.

The focus of the collection is on materials and craftsmanship, combining traditional shoemaking and saddlery hand stitching techniques with modern materials. Using digitally printed vegetable tanned leather, she has used a variety of constructions and stitches for all pairs, using tones of pink and blue, colours that challenge traditional gender normative codes. The thread serves as continuance from one shoe to the next, the imperfections reminding the wearer of our collective humanity but also of our individuality.

© Niki Jessup

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