Sole Mates: SCRY ™ Lab on 3D printed sneakers
3D printing is nothing new, especially in the footwear industry, where it has quickly become a growing market. There’s Zellerfeld, the company Heron Preston hired to develop the HERON01, which tries to put a printed shoe on every foot in the world, and there’s adidas, which kicked things off with their 3D and 4D soles. in 2015, since it became a three-stripe staple. And then there’s SCRY ™ Lab, which is taking a slightly different and forward-thinking direction.
Led by 22-year-old Zixiong Wei, SCRY ™ Lab is an emerging shoe brand based in Beijing. “Competing with others is never the goal,” Wei told HYPEBEAST in January 2021. Instead, SCRY ™ Lab wants to show what is possible in the areas of experimentation – if a prototype doesn’t work. no, it does not matter because it continues do something, he always pushes the boundaries of what could be possible.
However, if the SCRY ™ Lab Shuttle – its iconic silhouette – works, what does this mean for the industry at large? In this latest issue of unique companions, HYPEBEAST visited SCRY’s Beijing studio to learn more about the 3D process, conceptual design and “Digital Embryo” philosophy that Wei adheres to, as well as to learn more about Wei’s passion for footwear.
HYPEBEAST: What first attracted you to the world of sneakers?
Zixiong Wei: When I was in middle school, I saw my friend wearing a pair of black and white striped basketball shoes with the three stripes on the side. I felt I didn’t really care about shoes before, but then I started to take the initiative to learn more about the design and history of each brand.
I started with sneaker magazines and then I paid attention to new products, posting about it or going to Google to look at historically unpopular shoes from different brands. [Finding them] made me feel like a treasure hunt.
What was your first pair?
My first pair of sneakers was the Reebok GL6000, a pair of regular running shoes. These shoes were purchased after I first told my dad about my shoe hobby. What’s interesting is that I thought my dad wouldn’t talk about these brands and shoes, but he knows a lot more about retro jogging shoes than I do.
I also took a closer look at my dad’s shoe cabinet and found a lot of old New Balance shoes there.
Is there a particular shoe that inspired you to do what you do today?
The Wind series from Nike. The visual impact brought by the integrated and rigid body made me realize the originality of the shoe. It’s not just the stitching and cutting of the fabric, but also the holes and curves, the beauty of it all.
In fact, since high school I have often thought about how to make a pair of my own shoes, but it wasn’t until college that I realized that the challenge of making a new pair of shoes was difficult. I know a lot of great designers, and they’re all capable, but a lot of people can be reduced to conceptual sketches due to cost and manufacturing issues.
Outside of a large company, it’s a big challenge and a big investment to make a new pair of shoes. Even so, I was determined to lower the threshold for shoe design and manufacture, and I created the SCRY brand. SCRY explored different future possibilities, rather than pursuing lighter, faster and more resilient directions in the traditional sense. Sometimes it’s not the internal things that disrupt an industry.
Does the name SCRY have a special meaning and what does the “Digital Embryo” concept represent?
SCRY is the abbreviation for my Instagram account “scccccry”. The literal translation is “looking to the future through a crystal ball”. I think this is a very interesting point, because the “crystal ball” can be understood as a technology that has not yet been understood, and it can also be understood as a future that is not linearly inferred.
I think SCRY is always exploring different possibilities in the future, rather than looking for lighter, faster and stronger possibilities. Sometimes it’s not the internal industry that is disrupting an industry.
The concept of “Digital Embryo” is a framework technology that aims to go through the entire process of designing and manufacturing a pair of shoes with a fully digital process, while achieving the mass production capacity of printing. 3D, thus ensuring the scalability of virtual shoes. It can also realize a transparent online and offline business model.
For example, I can produce a lot of virtual simulation conceptual shoes and let consumers choose and order shoes and then print them. In addition, the “digital embryo” as an underlying framework can achieve true modular customization. A shoe can have hundreds of combinations.
As soon as your first design – the SCRY shuttle – was unveiled, it sparked a lot of discussion on the internet.
The shuttle has a lot of openings and hollows in the front, back and sides. In fact, about 70% of the drainage grooves are designed in such a way that they can be completely printed.
There is a pair of pure transparent samples. This is a sample that printed unexpectedly. Because the print quality is closely related to the light transmittance of the material, the light transmittance of this version is too high, so this sample is almost two or three times heavier than the normal Shuttle. And finally broke at the tail. Although these test tubes are not really portable, they are very interesting.
How long does it take for a shoe to go from conceptualization to finished product?
Development of the product itself takes around two weeks, including new shoe styles and design languages. However, launching a pair of shoes requires market planning and formulating sales plans, so the current cycle for our new pair of shoes is around two months.
In my opinion, a brand vision equals a platform. In future products, more diverse design styles will be included.
SCRY is building an online design platform to open design rights to the public. If SCRY is the future, what do you think is the next wave of sneaker design trends?
Free and diverse. The technology will promote the advancement and collision of shoe design. In the near future, we will launch an online design platform and open it to the public. I sincerely hope that the culture and ideas of other industries collide with the footwear industry.
Outside of your brand and focusing more on yourself, what pair of shoes do you wear most often?
The most worn daily is the New Balance M1500SG. These 1,500 British-made colors surprised me at first glance, and British-made shoes really don’t crumble no matter how they are worn, so I have worn them for the recent daily commute.
Which pair of shoes are you the most reluctant to wear?
This pair of New Balance MT580PUG – they are from 2010 and the midsole is about to start to crumble. Wearing it one more time will make that pair of shoes scrapped.
Which pair of shoes is your most expensive?
The most expensive pair should be this pair of Rombaut Embryo Future Leathers. I rarely buy boots. This pair is eye-catching and I wear them often.
And finally, what’s your last pair of shoes?
These last shoes of mine are also from Rombaut. These Drone regenerated nylon slippers are made from the above pair of boots. Most of the slippers on the market are pretty much the same – they really grab my attention.
This issue of Sole Mates originally appeared on HYPEBEAST ZH and has been adapted accordingly.