NEON x SEOUL SHOE STREET

Client: British Council and Seoul Metropolitan Government
Location: Seoul, Korea
Status: Completed 2017
Shoe makers: Jung-Soo Youn, Ki-Hwang Ko, Dong-Woo Kim, Hyuk-Nam Kwon
Shoe wearers: Michael Madjus, Luz Celeste Lopera, Kai Lobjakas, Julita Bhagat, Lie-Sang Bong, Courtney Johnston, Manuel Henriques, Thahab Alosaimi, Atty Tantivit, Patrick Murphy
Photography: Jamie James Films

Introduction

As part of the UK/Korea 2017-18 season, NEON were commissioned by the British Council and the Urban Regeneration Center of the Seoul Metropolitan Government to undertake a month-long residency in the Seoul Station area, which includes the historic Seoul Shoe Street. Currently at threat of extinction due to rapid gentrification and the demand for fast fashion, Seoul Shoe Street is an example of the global issue of the decline in local skilled manufacture. 

Concept

In ”NEON x Seoul Shoe Street”  NEON collaborated with 4 local shoemakers from Seoul Shoe Street to develop a collection of 10 bespoke and customized shoes for 10 international design professionals. Each pair of shoes was designed in consultation with both the wearer and the maker and reflects their specific tastes, lifestyles and environment.

After being on display in the Maker City exhibition in Seoul and then the NEON retrospective in the UK, the shoes will be gifted to the wearers. The participants will share footage of them wearing the shoes on social media using #NEONxSeoulShoeStreet to spread the message of the project. 

The aim of the project is to raise international awareness about the traditional maker area in Seoul and create a buzz around handmade Korean shoes. NEON believe that handmade bespoke objects can instill a deeper and more meaningful emotional bond with the user leading to them wanting to keep the object for longer. NEON hope the project will prompt the residents of the city to start buying their shoes locally again and commissioning tailor made footwear.