Since inception in 2009, Filling Pieces have created some of the finest sneakers in the market. Founder Guillaume Philibert describes the beginning as a ‘DIY’ thing, starting the brand as a youthful 19 year old. Being unable to afford the high-priced sneakers he craved, Philibert resourcefully decided to make his own. By carefully selecting materials and collaborating with the right partners, like Ronnie Fieg, Filling Pieces has rapidly grown to be one of the most sought after brands in the game. Sneaker Freaker caught up with Guillaume to discuss the brand’s recent colab with PUMA.
Big congrats on your first colab with a major sports brand. How did it come together?
Thanks a lot. To start, PUMA has always been a part of my childhood with my mother buying me mostly PUMA shoes. I experienced the strength of the brand at the time of the Mostro, Clydes, Suedes and the Sparco Speed Cat. Those silhouettes have definitely inspired my vision on footwear. When my good friend Ronnie Fieg introduced me to Yassine Saidi, head of PUMA Lifestyle, we sat down and discussed about possible ways to work together.
PUMA is a very big company, where we as Filling Pieces are small and unique, so we tried to look at both of our strengths and see how we could translate these into one product. It’s quite unique considering footwear brands almost never work together.
When it comes to sneakers, you have gone a long way. Tell us a bit about that.
I started Filling Pieces as a 19 year old kid, not being able to afford the more expensive designer trainers but I had a lot of appreciation and interest in that level of product. I have always had the vision on bridging this big gap in the market between higher end and street and aathletic footwear.
It’s always a challenge to keep people surprised when we release a new collection and have the right balance in the line and brand, but we have a great team and we make sure we succeed.
You can definitely see your signature style on the shoe. Tell us a bit about the changes you made!
The Blaze of Glory silhouette is an amazing piece of design as it is. We gave it a Filling Pieces’ premium execution in a contemporary iteration. The silhouette is crafted from fine quality leathers, woven across the toe with nubuck overlays and a large elastic strap across the vamp. The sneaker is completed with an over emphasised iconic tongue that we’re known for, lasered detailing and metallic lace tips. The medial side has a perforated panel, that refers to the perforated FP Low Top we carry in our collection, where the lateral side shows a part of padding that is signature Filling Pieces. The collaboration style offers a single colourway of matte black with a fresh white sole finished with the classic Trinomic cushion technology. The PUMA x Filling Pieces Blaze of Glory is a fusion of the clean and modern identity of Filling Pieces with the iconic sports aesthetic from PUMA.
How was it to work with a big player regarding the sourcing, changing of the shape, etc.?
For us it was quite a different approach. Obviously, a big brand such as PUMA works in a different way than we are used to. As a small and flexible company, we are able to do faster sample rounds, work with a wide selection of fabric suppliers and are able to decide and accelerate faster. A big company like PUMA has licensed fabric suppliers, more people involved to make decisions and longer sample runs. In terms of sourcing of materials, we got the chance to bring some of our techniques to the table, some of which aren’t usually used by PUMA. It has been interesting to see and learn how they work. It took some time to get it there but I feel we created a perfect blend of athletic and luxury footwear.
The material on the shoe is quite amazing with all these different materials. How many samples did it take to have it perfect?
We started working on this shoe over a year and a half ago, but it took some time to get it there. In total we did three sample rounds, where in the first sample we completely changed the whole shoe and sample number two was close to perfect. I was wearing the shoes in Paris for fashion-week and people reacted extremely well to it, as it really looks like a high-end PUMA shoe.
Ronnie also changed a bit of the shape. Do you think, that it is necessary, to change the original Blaze of Glory to make it more contemporary?
The Blaze of Glory to me is a beautiful style, very original and I feel it’s quite timeless. I really like the way Ronnie tweaked the shoe with the strap, quilting and height, it made the shoe unique and gave it a super luxe touch.
We actually changed the toebox as well, to make it less bulky and a bit slimmer like our inline shoes. We took off one of the layers on the toebox, added stitching to keep the line and shape. The lateral and medial side have a different look due to stitching and perforation of the heel panel. The elastic strap makes the shoe look very fashion forward, so it has a contemporary look and feel which refers to our own products.
Regarding your brand; you grew a lot in the last year. What was the biggest challenge for the brand and also for you personally?
The biggest challenge I think is to keep improving every season, it takes a whole lot of effort to come up with new concepts, new styles and tooling. One of the biggest challenges for me personally is to let things go. As we are growing it becomes harder for me to be there every step of the way. Running a business in itself is a huge challenge, knowing that I have a team of over fifty people working for me. We have to make sure to pay attention to every detail and make sure to keep improving ourselves.
What does the future hold for Filling Pieces and PUMA?
For now, this is the first and only project we have worked on with PUMA, but you never know what the future might bring. As for Filling Pieces, we are ambitious and eager to put our stamp on the footwear industry. We are still growing and developing our product to perfection. We are looking at options to open up own retails locations in the future but most important is to keep improving as a brand and become leaders in our fields.
Interview by Pascal Prehn, everysize.com