Rhode Island School of Design

Rapid Prototyping, Shoe Design, Leather Work, Visual Identity, Creative Direction


Italian Monk Strap

A traditional handmade leather Monk Strap constructed of Vegetable-Tanned leather.

Initial Inspiration

A traditional leather Monk Strap is, without a doubt, one of my favorite style of shoe. I do prefer double straps to single and triple, but for this design I decided to stick to one strap to achieve efficiency and simplicity. Plus, it's just incredibly difficult to cut through multiple layers of thick leather by hand.

The shoes are made entirely of Vegetable-Tanned leather, aside from the first layer of insole that I installed in the base. This means that the shoes will age with time and wear – a story will be told through the scratches, wrinkles, and highlights – as I galavant around the world in them. And, with a build based around traditional leather-crafting techniques, the shoes should have a structure to challenge time itself. Not too bad for my first time, huh?

The Process

Over the course of 1 month, we traveled across 5 Italian towns and cities, including Florence, Milan, San Miniato, and Vicenza. Along our journey the RISD Italian Shoe Design cohort met with car designers, fashion house founders, museum curators, brand owners, executive chefs, and more incredible people immersed in their respective profession. Leonardo da Vinci provided us with our framework of synthesis throughout the trip, which cultivated a lavish dynamic of creatively technical explorations and expressions.

Starting with the shape of a last that was the size of my own foot, I was able to mold and guide the leather I used into the style that I wanted.

A lot of inspiration, for me, came from luxury style brands that focus on simplicity with flashes of contrast that portray uniqueness and quality. Gucci in particular had a significant impact on how I designed my shoe, and the colors I picked when deciding on the final look. The intention of the yellow tongue, which is slightly hidden behind a more earth-toned covering, and pick highlight in the outer sole is to present a look of experimental elegance. In addition to a second bright-red stitching around the edges of the shoe, these elements are also meant to make observers consider the level of detail and thought put into the curation of the shoe. Even though the shoe in its entirety is meant to be admired, details such as these are reminders that the components of anything are often what make them appealing to the eye, as well as the emotions.


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