Sven Segal, Founder of Po-Zu, shares with PK his thoughts on the craziness of today's world and his answer to this.
To build and fix was my passion as a child. Not surprising, perhaps, as I grew up in the shadow of an inspiring craftsman-carpenter grandad and a mechanic dad who assembled automatic car transmissions with the skill of a neurosurgeon.
My infatuation with all things 3-D propelled me into architecture studies first, followed by a brief exchange of professions for the next few years, namely stage designer and special effects photographer.
Becoming a shoe designer was part of my goal to create something really useful, as shoes were the most practical things I could think of. I was then apprenticed to a six-fingered shoemaker for a few months to grasp the basics, while getting intoxicated by the glue fumes.
Beyond the Fashionable
In London, after graduating from Cordwainers in the mid nineties, I designed and developed shoe collections for many brands – from dangerous stilettos to monstrous cyberpunk platforms – but mostly young fashion toxic trainers.
The spinning fashion cycle threw me into a state of confusion. Why design entire new collections, season after season, just for the sake of change? I felt drained and wasted contributing to something neither “fair” nor “friendly”. In that process I become an environmentalist.
In 2003, I conceived Po-Zu with the purpose of developing the ultimate ecological shoe: entirely biodegradable, durable, and exceptionally comfortable. Finding the right materials was a detective’s job, unaided by the ‘green directories’ available today.
A decade of designing shoes has taught us that mainstream footwear is rarely environmentally friendly. Fashion is inherently wasteful and in recent years, the rate of change has accelerated so much that we no live in a disposable society. Consequently, the faster the change, the greater the waste, which is frequently laden with chemicals. Thus, our environment has become the ultimate fashion victim.
Origin of The Species
As with slow food and wine, quality takes time. From vegetable leather tanning to hand crafting. Po-Zu takes its time to make things properly. We use the best materials available that are all 100% natural, free from harmful chemicals and biodegradable. Organically certified materials are used whenever possible.
Po-Zu is proud to manufacture in the UK and help boos the economic outlook for local workforces and nationwide industries alike. By cutting out the need for much of the usual long distance distribution, it helps benefit the environment.
We do not dye our materials and thus their colour looks as it would in nature. As with all natural materials, it's impossible to control the exact colour and finish, hence our product will vary slightly from one to another.
Packaging with a New Lease of Life
Po-Zu's packaging is a biodegradable coconut box, that can be used as trays to grow seeds. As your plants grow, simply place the entire tray into the earth and it will biodegrade, naturally.
Pause for Thought
Po-Zu is the simplest thing I have ever designed, yet it is praised and recognised like no other project I have ever been involved in.
Po-Zu means PAUSE in Japanese. Pause to counter this mad race. Pause for a moment and reflect, a race to where exactly?
Running a business didn’t come natural for me, but my dream is to build a harmless biodegradable shoe brand. Po-Zu is my small offering to help fix the environmental mess we are in.
We are currently designing and producing a wider range for Autumn time, 2007.
Click here to view and read more about Po-Zu Shoes at The Natural Store >>