The Rainbow Wingtip by semifold
2010–2011

Unique Distinction: The majority of Rainbow Wingtip sales come from wearing them in public and strangers stopping to ask where I got them.

Favorite Customer Story: Purchased for a wedding, worn with a white suit.

Favorite Quote From a Manufacturer: “The design of the shoes is really unique. I think the designer must be imaginative!”

The Rainbow Wingtip, like the Charlie Baker, changes one characteristic of a familiar favorite drastically, and leaves all else untouched. The silhouette is that of a classic wingtip, with the color palate adding the dynamic element. A symbol of pride for some, a humorous expression for others, The Rainbow Wingtip is a tool for the user’s self-expression. Much like The Charlie Baker, the Wingtip offers many possible interpretations of meaning, many ways to “wear” the shoe.

The Process

The Rainbow Wingtip presented the first insurmountable sourcing challenge. Though there are many experienced manufacturers of men’s dress shoes and many more willing to give it a try, none of them seemed able to color match dyed patent leather with provided Pantone codes. Sample after sample returned looking faded, dull, or just off-putting. Patent leather manufacturers were inaccessible, requiring large and expensive sample runs. Eventually, a fur garment manufacturer with no experience in footwear came to the rescue, offering to work with the manufacturers on our behalf to match the dye to our Pantone codes. With the help of this fortuitous, if unlikely, intermediary, we received the first perfect sample and ordered a full size run. Future sourcing efforts reflected the lesson learned here: when making an original product, a partner’s lack of experience and wealth of enthusiasm can be assets.

What it Means to Me

Though many semifold products are designed to encourage or even force new behaviors, we consciously avoid telling the user how they should feel about the product. semifold products make art concepts and experiences more accessible to invite criticism and engagement from the previously unengaged non-artist. The Rainbow Wingtip was a bold statement of this philosophy. By using symbolism that is at once immediately evocative and completely ambiguous, the user is empowered to make a decision about the meaning of the object. Dipping the users toes into this conceptual analysis, the kind of messy grey puddle that artists love to swim in, advances the semifold mission: to blur the line between performer and audience, between creator and observer.