Fashion is not a dirty little F word anymore. It’s not even uptight, airbrushed botox icons, sitting with lips pursed and blackberries set to vibrate during a runway show. Fashion is a kickstarter campaign with the huff and puff to blow many a veteran design house down. Enter Lotto and Lotta, luxury designed shoes for him and her born out of a need to wed traditional design with modern tech. The result: beautifully hand crafted luxury urban shoes that didn’t come at the price of compromising anyone’s ethics. They’re hip, modern and edgy. And you could certainly pair them with your best Kenzo suit or your summer kaftan and skinny jeans. Why the buzz? They’re not sitting in NY’s design district in a window display. They’re not even doing a capsule show in Paris. They’re holding court on Kickstarter. The campaign’s genius Rokas Bernotas says it’s about bringing to the people the essence of luxury without the red tape and brou ha ha. Here’s a look at what they’ve got under Lotto’s lid.

AW: Why this shoe and why Polyforma Design?

RB: At Polyforma Design, we aim to work on a project basis focusing on different crafts and coming up with new innovative luxury design products, so hopefully later we can expand to other design products and not just footwear. At the moment, there is me and an industrial designer, who worked for many years at Reebok as a shoe designer, in NYC and a team of freelancers.

AW: How do you see the fashion industry embracing or shunning new trends in business and design?

RB: I have a long academic and professional experience in fashion. Slowly, I grew more critical about the fashion industry as it often compromises interests of producers, consumers and the environment we live in, just in order to reach higher profits. My idea is to combine social with commercial enterprise – the bottom line is also to make profit, but in a socially accountable way. Another point, from the experience I started to value products that are made in a truly authentic way – as that way the quality can be much higher than the rest of production. Some people don’t realize that simple cotton t-shirts can be different in quality, not talking about shoes at all. So to start the business is a combination of both, to try to make it in a sustainable way, plus reach high quality and finally be able to offer that combination at an affordable price. That would be my vision.

AW: How does this vision fit the style of the new shoe, Lotto?

RB: Our style is defined by function. We work the other way around – identify right components and functionality and then follow design; it’s inevitably practical, utilitarian and timeless. We believe that form has to follow function. Let’s say for this line we used hand woven leather; for some it might signify prestige or luxury, it’s just the way how it looks like. But for me, its not just beautiful, but also a notion of improved technical, ergonomic and durability qualities of the shoe.

AW: Do you see an audience for this shoe? For this movement?

RB: The brand is for young urban consumers, who care about how they look but who don’t chase the latest trends. As I mentioned before, we combine authentic and traditional with modern design and quality. So our target audience are those interested in something more than pure aesthetics. Lately, I was reading about Michael Kors that his brand became one of the biggest in the world or something. They position themselves as “affordable luxury” brand as it looks like luxury but it doesn’t cost that much. All their goods are made in China, and even though the quality might be acceptable the production is very unsustainable and its nothing to do with luxury product – its just copy of luxury. Another big company Coach, announced a couple of years ago that they are moving all their production from China because apparently its too expensive already to produce there! They moved everything to Bangladesh and other cheaper countries. Thats crazy!

As you can see, Bernotas and the folks at Polyforma Design are kicking up a storm (pun fully intended) with their own brand of ethical design and treatment. Check out their tumblr page to see more and head over to their Kickstarter page to see what they’re currently cooking up.

–Akil Wingate
@AkilWingate on Twitter and Pheed