Man Vs Machine
FEIT set man against machine in a visual celebration of the beauty of traditional craftsmanship
Handcrafted footwear brand FEIT has created a one-off audio-visual experience that contrasts automated mass-production techniques with the spellbinding movements of the master shoe craftsman.
Incorporating scenes from the 1982 cult classic movie Koyaanisqatsi, MAN VS MACHINE is based on an original concept by FEIT founder Tull Price, drawing on his many years of expertise and pursuit of quality within the shoe industry, which Price references as an increasingly fast paced and technologically-driven society.
Directed by New York-based artist and filmmaker Jack Riccobono (Seventh Fire), it is a collaboration with Benjamin Millepied (Director, Paris Opera Ballet), composer Nicholas Britell (The Big Short, 12 Years a Slave), and installation artist/designer Jordana Maisie (FEIT Prince St & Greenwich Ave). Millepied and Britell’s Amoveo Company produced the work.
“For this film, we wanted to emphasize the rhythm, skill, and artistry involved in the process of making shoes by hand. There is a choreographed, dance-like relationship between the craftsman and his work that is especially beautiful, and that is ultimately reflected in the final product” says Benjamin Millepied.
Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance is the legendary experimental film by Godfrey Reggio that juxtaposes time-lapse footage of cities and technology with the natural world, highlighting mankind’s profound impact on the environment.
MAN VS MACHINE - FEIT’s first ever film commission - contrasts the iconic mass production imagery of Koyaanisqatsi with the unique artistry that defines FEIT’s commitment to handmade. “We wanted to create the arc of a battle between these two modes of creation, so that you feel the tension between the rote repetition of the industrial process versus the skill, beauty, and attention to detail in FEIT’s handcrafted approach,” says Jack Riccobono.
The number of shoes created globally doubles every 20 years, largely because of the proliferation of mass production. Footwear is a $190 billion industry, and its growing use of cheap, synthetic materials and automation is having an increasingly harmful impact on the environment.
FEIT believes that creating high-quality, handmade shoes from natural materials reduces the production of harmful pollutants such as solvents, while also extending the life of each pair far beyond that of mass-produced footwear.
“In 2016, luxury doesn’t just mean a product of beauty,” says Tull Price, FEIT founder. “It also means taking a stand and being responsible. This trend away from needless excess towards quality, sustainability and individuality is what I call ‘neo-luxury’. Automation requires high volume, which almost always affects quality. In the future, luxury will increasingly be defined by the amount of human input in the process.”
At The New Museum in New York during Men’s Fashion Week, MAN VS MACHINE FEIT presented in an installation environment alongside live hand-sewers demonstrating their fascinating craft, as well as a presentation of the FEIT FW16 collection.
The dramatic combination of film, sound, performance and design experienced in MAN VS MACHINE is a thought-provoking exploration of how craft-focused brands such as FEIT can find their way and thrive in today’s heavily automated society.
Tull Price of FEIT and Tyler Hays of BDDW come together for the second in FEIT’s series of creative dialogues with likeminded guardians of neoluxury across disciplines of design. This collaboration showcases the artistry of today’s best modern handmade furniture company and today’s best modern handmade footwear company, both based in New York.
Tull and Tyler came together to develop a highly limited run of 66 pairs of hiking boots. Each pair is unique, the leather uppers dyed, painted, or embossed by hand in BDDW’s Philadelphia studio before being sent back to FEIT for hand lasting and hand sewing. Each pair is presented in a custom wooden box made by BDDW, and are individually numbered.
TULL: What's your FEIT [fight]?
TYLER: I fight for the sake of fighting! The good fight and the bad fight.
TULL: I believe what you are doing with BDDW and M Crow makes them two one of the most interesting brands with integrity in America today. Why did you decide to work with FEIT?
TYLER: We were all fans of FEIT from the moment we saw their shoes. They really are unique...the attention but more the intention.
It's rare to find things made today that meet all of my tests of intrigue and quality. Then we met them as people and they are equally cool, so when Tull asked me to do a collaboration I didn't hesitate. And I've said no to collaborations since before collaborations were a thing.
TULL: To me, mass-produced products lack soul. Even most luxury brands today fall into the category of fast luxury: they rely on makeup, logos, bling to make them stand out, and very little is done by hand outside of couture. Why make physical things? Why make them in a certain way? Why is it important?
TYLER: Some people are just born with the need to make stuff. Since I was a little kid, I've been fermenting stuff, blowing stuff up, and making.
I get off on the engineering and mechanics of building more than the design, but when that all comes together, it's euphoric, kind of addictive. When well intentioned, well made, and beautiful all line up, it's magic. It's important because the world would stop spinning and no one would get out of bed if everything was shit.
TULL: As someone who has had a keen interest in unique brands and lateral thinking for over 30 years, I believe what you are doing today is a cut above most makers in fashion and furniture. How do you feel your work relates to the industry you work in today? What are the strengths and shortcomings of your industry? How would you like to see it evolve?
TYLER: I truly dont know, I mean I know we set a bar for quality, and I know I have a unique position, being the engineer, fabricator, and retailer of all my work. It has its headaches but it's the only way I could work.
Shortcomings - I think it's unfortunate that price has been the driving factor in the making of things. It used to be that people would spend more money for better things. The market for better things shrinks and then the costs go up because the quantities are tiny. It's all very tricky and sad.
In 2017, FEIT debuted a series of creative dialogues between founder Tull Price and likeminded guardians of neoluxury across disciplines of design. These partnerships are an exchange of artistic visions, rooted in a shared philosophy and approach to design, with a focus on craft and integrity as the vision for the future.
The first of these exchanges brings together FEIT and British design duo Faye and Erica Toogood, founders of their eponymous label TOOGOOD. While each brand has its own innovative approaches to challenging a globalized and compromised industry, they find a common language in their celebration of craftsmanship, dedication, and the human involvement in the construction of their products.
Having followed artist Faye Toogood for years, and with great respect for her work across both installation and design, Tull invited TOOGOOD to transform FEIT’s New York flagship with a site-specific installation. Visible through the large glass storefront, the space will house an immersive display of soft, sculptural, geometric shapes inspired by hay bales and sewn from TOOGOOD’s fabrics. In return, FEIT has created a limited edition Artist Shoe for TOOGOOD’s Collection 006.
For Collection 006, TOOGOOD’s return to the land and reaffirmation of the connection with the Earth on which we walk harmonizes with FEIT, whose materials and methods of construction are selected to provide balance, stability, and longevity. Strong, practical and rooted in the honest simplicity of agricultural labor, the shoes reflect both houses’ respect for the rawness of nature and the elements as well as the adoption of natural materials in their work. Lace-up shoes & boots are built from natural artist’s canvas and finished with a vegetable-tanned black leather wrap and black cotton laces.
HAND SEWING TOUR
FEIT handsewing demonstration and exhibition in Kanazawa City, Japan. This is the latest in a series of immersive experiences FEIT launched in 2018 including Beijing, Paris, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco
Oliver Jeffers is a Northern Irish visual artist and author who uses painting, illustration, and storytelling to explore how we relate and make sense of the world around us. Humor and curiosity underscore each project, whether his critically acclaimed picture books or original artwork.
On February 25, FEIT launched a design collaboration with Oliver Jeffers: “All That We Need”, a capsule of special-edition Indoor Slippers developed for the first time children, as well as adults. Accompanying each pair is an artbook written and illustrated by Jeffers exclusively for FEIT. The project uses craftsmanship and art to simplify the message of our relationship with the planet, and each other. This collaboration is the latest installment of FEIT partnering with creators exemplary in their respective fields; past partners include BDDW, craft furniture and design, and Toogood, installations and interiors.
“All That We Need” highlights our place within the natural world: the sun provides energy for trees to grow, the trees create wood so we can make fire, the fire creates tools that we use with our hands to build “useful things” like shoes, so we can walk across Earth to be with each other. Motifs from the booklet—trees, fire, hammers, hands, and feet—decorate the vegetable-tanned leather slippers, as well as the dust bag made from organic cotton.
“We are not separate from nature. We are not above nature. We are an intricate part of it. And so whatever we do has to be part of a cyclical existence. [‘All That We Need’] acknowledges that we're part of a greater system than just our own lifetime. And that we ultimately, all human beings, regardless of who and where you're from, need other people,” says Jeffers.
“Oliver is one of the people who is putting out a very important perspective out into the world that people need to hear at an important time. It connects to the way FEIT considers and looks at the products it makes and the attention to detail that goes into that entire process. Everything that FEIT uses comes from nature. And then, like Oliver's story says, everything we use comes from nature… it's a very natural synergy,” says Tull Price, FEIT founder.
Jeffers and Price selected Brooklyn’s ‘Small Editions’, specializing in bookbinding, box making, and risograph printing, to publish the book. “Rather than just having it mass-produced, we thought of ways in which we can use older printing techniques for something that is more considered, handmade, and local,” says Price.