While Australia is a booming market for sneakers, it’s rare we see a homegrown, standalone sneaker label. Only in May this year did Melbourne get its own athleisure sneaker, Athletikan. Now Public Personas – Keiko Kimura and Travis Mckinnon’s foray into trainers – is looking to launch in Sydney.
The label is currently crowdfunding to release its first unisex style – the Cooper Low. Public Personas has already raised $3600 in just three days with a long-term goal of raising $35000. It’s a dressy, low-cut white leather sneaker with leather lining and a natural-rubber sole. And only 300 pairs will be made. Also on the cards are two other styles: the Cooper High (a black leather high-top) and the Jeffery (a mustard-coloured suede silhouette).
Kimura, a former sneaker and apparel designer for American sportswear company Champion, has long dreamed of designing her own line of footwear. “I love designing sneakers and wanted to create a range that was unisex, not just a boy’s style shrunk to girl size,” she says. “Keiko has always been designing and I just wanted to encourage her,” says Mckinnon, whose background is in luxury watch sales. “The things I see her design always come out in the industry six to 12 months later.”
Kimura and Mckinnon are inspired by their home city of Sydney and frequent visits to Tokyo, where Kimura’s family lives. Their shoes are designed for the pavement-pounding lifestyle of both cities. “Natural rubber is really comfortable to wear,” says Kimura. “Especially when you’re walking around on asphalt, it just absorbs that hard surface.”
The design duo feels now is an opportune moment to launch a small-run sneaker company in Australia. “I think it’s hard to convert hardcore fans who are loyal to a brand already,” says Kimura. “With footwear, you need large capital and a factory you can trust to have a small amount of production. You have large production runs like Nike and Adidas to compete with, so that’s why it’s very hard for small companies.
“But I think people [will like us] if they appreciate the process of making sneakers and the quality control of a small brand,” she says.
“There’s definitely scope for growth here,” adds Mckinnon. “People are looking for a quality sneaker that’s not so common. It’s similar in Japan, people lean towards unique and specialist items.”
Public Persona’s COOPER Low sneaker ($180) will be available to buy through the label’s Kickstarter page. The funding program expires in 27 days.
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Sunday November 26 at 5.39pm.