Footwear designer Mark Britton had an interesting start in the fashion industry. Graduating with a Bachelor of Industrial Design from the University of Cincinnati, Britton found his calling by combining design and function into footwear, taking elements of his creative drive and practical thinking to create products that are commercially successful.
Britton recently moved to New Zealand where he is responsible for the designs at Deuce Generation, most recently the collaboration between Deuce Generation and pro surfer Matt Hewitt.
“Matt and I talked a lot about exactly what we needed from the shoe. We talked about aesthetic, but for this is was really what the shoe needed to do,” said Britton.
Britton and Hewitt worked with each other to develop a range of footwear for the brand, in which Hewitt now serves as brand ambassador.
“They’ve become a part of my team and have welcomed me as part of theirs,” said Hewitt.
Britton brings with him 12 years of global knowledge, having worked with some big name companies around the world including Adidas, Columbia Sportswear, Sorel and Overland.
“I really love some of the stuff from Japan. You could do some really crazy things and they would fly off the shelves,” said Britton.
According to Britton, collaboration is crucial but can often overwhelm the work with companies losing their identity to the collaboration and working on products that ultimately will not sell.
“It’s important to get your influence from where your consumer is. Where their head is at is where you need to be. A lot of people like to be hands off and dictate their aesthetic onto their consumer. And that’s just not acceptable these days.”
Consumer focus is the key defining style of Britton’s design, with an increased customer knowledge affecting the product.
“When you come out of school you have visions of grandeur an you want to change the world. But as time goes on you realise things need to be commercially successful, and my designs have become increasingly more realistic,” said Britton.
Although the collaboration between Deuce Generation and Hewitt is being manufactured in China, Britton said local industry needs more support and New Zealand needs to find a point of difference by providing a product only it could produce.
“There’s a lot of people that don’t want to necessarily affiliate themselves with the brand. Consumers are more commonly buying things that are a reflection of their taste and identity,” said Britton.
Innovative design comes from the creative solution to a problem, and for Britton this way of thinking is the driving force behind moving forward. He said every night he would list a series of problems and possible solutions in order to come up with the next big innovation, a process he said helps keep the mind active and open.