Combining Sustainability and Enterprise: meet LCF alumni Sophie Park
- Written byGiada Maestra
- Published date 07 December 2022
Sophie Park's dream has always been to combine her interests in shoemaking, business, and sustainability.
But dreams go hand in hand with challenges: here we take a look at Sophie’s career path after attending the Footwear Design course at London College of Fashion in 2019...
Could you tell us a bit more about your time at LCF?
I studied Footwear Design at the London College of Fashion, graduating in 2019. I quickly realised I knew very little about shoe making, although it has always been my passion. Learning about pattern cutting and specific tools was enjoyable but also crucial to complete my design process. Things became a lot more challenging in my second year when I decided that, as a vegan, I was no longer going to use animal leather. In my final year at UAL, I began exploring different technological processes and plant-based materials made from leaves, pineapple, and hemp. The source of inspiration came from my hope for a technologically advanced, vegan future. This vision stays present in my mind as it’s a core driving factor for my brand moving forward.
Sophie Park is a plant-based, gender-neutral footwear brand. When and how did it all start?
Since my school years, my aim has always been to start my own footwear brand. Before moving to art school where I was free to explore my flare for fashion, my favourite subject was Business Studies. I had a natural entrepreneurial mind and while making my final collection at the London College of Fashion I began to see the future path for my brand and realised I could combine my two big passions: shoes and veganism. I also decided I would aim to challenge gender stereotypes with my brand, my shoes, in fact, are for everyone.
Where do you find/source inspiration?
I have an obsession with little things in life: whether it be the shape of a cloud or the texture of a leaf. I also have always been fascinated by astronomy and I translated my love for the stars in my debut London Fashion Week collection 777, made of materials that reflect the image of a night sky. But the main inspiration comes from faces: I have a condition called pareidolia, which is where I can see visages in everyday objects; so including profiles in my design process feels totally natural.
What obstacles have you faced as a designer engaged with sustainability?
The biggest obstacle for Sophie Park was the material. Plant-based sources that can be used for shoemaking are specialist and hard to come by. Even though there is now a decent array of options on the market, it takes an extensive amount of research to scope them out. Luckily, I found brands that align with my purpose, for example, I partnered with Desserto, a Mexican company that develops material from cacti.
How do you think fashion could contribute to a more sustainable future?
I think it’s no secret that something needs to be done now and it’s really important to weigh up our priorities. If every brand made small changes, it would make a huge difference. From packaging to distribution, to production and marketing; every checkpoint is an opportunity to make a more sustainable decision.
What does your dream collaboration look like?
Before Sophie Park even launched, I was already dreaming about future collaborations with like-minded brands and Veja is one of them. I can imagine a collaboration of trainers made with cactus material and some of my signature features and add-ons. Another designer I am excited by is Yohji Yamamoto; it would be amazing to see how our styles would fuse together in a collection made from plant-based materials. They are both perfect examples of achieving great success through eco-conscious choices and this fills me with hope for the future of our industry.
Sophie Park is also a member of UAL Alumni Sustainability and Enterprising Associations; would you like to join? Register your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com