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Why Common Projects Isn’t Just About Shoes

December 2016Words by Mr Dan Rookwood

It’s not giving away too many trade secrets to say that Common Projects sneakers are among the most popular products on MR PORTER. They are phenomenally successful.

But the brand was never supposed to be just footwear. In fact, when the co-founders Messrs Peter Poopat (then a magazine art director) and Flavio Girolami (a consultant for Italian shoe brands) first dreamt up the idea for their company in the late 1990s over rather too many drinks in a now-shut bar beneath the Maritime Hotel in Chelsea, New York, they discussed plans to perfect the design of several everyday objects – a desk lamp, a chair, a wallet. It was always supposed to be Projects-plural. It’s just that their reinvention of the sneaker – which was among the first to bridge the gap between sports shoe and dress shoe – ended up being such a hit, they decided to concentrate on footwear for a while. With Mr Girolami’s contacts in Italian shoemaking, it made sense.

Twelve years later, the pair have finally released their next Projects – a range of pared-back leather goods including a backpack, a cardholder, a washbag and a wallet. It almost sounds like an oxymoron to say they are distinctively minimalistic, but any fans of Common Projects’ sleek, pared back aesthetic will know exactly what you mean.