Yeezy Footwear Innovation Designer Cesar Idrobo Lands in Melbourne for eBay's Museum of Authentics!

Cesar Idribo

As part of the Museum Of Authentics event in Melbourne, Yeezy Footwear Innovation Designer Cesar Idrobo will be in town to headline a panel discussion. Idrobo works as part of the CNCPT team in charge of innovation and will also be bringing a hand-made prototype he put together for eBay. With hundreds of unique sneakers – including hype colabs, game-worn Jordans and never-seen-before samples – on display, the Museum Of Authentics is perfect for purists and newbies alike. We caught up with Idrobo just before the event opened.

You grew up in Colombia and worked your way up to a design career at some of the biggest sports brands. How did you make the initial leap?

Definitely a lot of persistence! For every yes that you get, you get 1000 rejections, so you have to keep pushing whenever there are obstacles. When I was between jobs, I just kept reaching out and trying to get my foot into the next door. I was always passionate and hungry to make it in the sneaker industry and that’s so important when you are starting out.

Instagram lists your current occupation as ‘designer and shoe maker’. How do you cover those two distinct roles?

In my current role I have to be able to have conversations with designers and also with people that are making the shoes. By being able to creatively perform both roles I have insight and I can relate very well to whatever is needed and what's important when designing a shoe or making a sample by hand.

It sounds like you're still quite hands-on, but do you spend much time using CAD?

I think there is always space for both and you need a happy balance between the computer and working by hand, depending on constraints. However, the hand-sewn approach is becoming rare these days because it requires you to take a little bit more time putting things together. That's why most of us rely on a digital medium, because you can cut and paste and erase things quickly. When you're making something by hand, you have to stick to the vision that you’re trying to create, and be patient, as there is no way to go back. So you need a totally different type of mindset, depending on the scenario.

You work alongside Steven Smith (designer of the New Balance 997 and Reebok Insta Pump Fury among other iconic shoes) every day. What have you learned most?

Besides being a great mentor, it is amazing working with Steven, because he has a very unconventional approach to design that I think yields very interesting results. He has decades of experience, but he’s very focused on the future. Working with him is always fun.


Do you think the footwear industry has become overly obsessed with heritage?

Yes, I agree, the industry has been coasting from what has been done before, using nostalgia as a marketing tool to lure consumers into buying the same shoes as they did over 20 years ago. While I believe there is value in the things that have been done before, the focus should be on creating ‘the new’ and not so much on history. The focal point should be starting with a white canvas!

You're in Melbourne for the Museum of Authentics event. What are your expectations and what do you know about the local sneaker scene?

I’m very much looking forward to seeing a very different perspective in terms of sneaker culture in Australia because all I have experienced so far is the United States. I'm very intrigued to see the energy and enthusiasm that Melbourne people have for sneakers. I’m also looking forward to seeing how locals dress and having conversations about shoes and understanding what they value most. It’s definitely a different facet of the culture from what I’ve seen here already.

You have produced an experimental footwear prototype with eBay. Tell us about that project and what the future might be?

I collaborated with eBay on a new type of sneaker based on the unique styles found on the marketplace. You never know, but as of now, this was just an extracurricular experiment. The highlight of the project was utilising the diversity of eBay as a starting point for creating something new. It’s always interesting to see how things come back around. I’ve been an eBay customer for a very long time and I’ve bought some very rare and unique shoes. I like to go there to browse interesting aesthetics, things that I wouldn’t be able to find anywhere else. It’s like the best place for window shopping, though I do buy lots of shoes as well.

We're at an interesting point in footwear right now. What do you think the next big thing might be?

It is an interesting time right now because it's difficult to pinpoint, and hard to articulate, what might come next for sure. All I can talk about is what I hope happens. I would love to see an advancement in manufacturing processes that allow us to explore aesthetics that can be turned into new designs and experiences. Aside from that, I’m really looking forward to exploring the Museum of Authentics and seeing what else Melbourne has to offer over the next few days!

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