Mark Gainor, Creative Director for Native Shoes
Mark Gainor, Creative Director for Native Shoes
Earlier this year, Canadian-based Native Shoes hired Mark Gainor to become the brand's Creative Director. His role is to handle all components of creative for Native, from design to imagery and more, which he does on the road while splitting his time between Vancouver, where Native is headquartered, and Los Angeles. Mark joined Native after having previously worked at Stussy and Garrett Leight, among others, and he is excited to join the team in anticipation of launching their all-new super light-weight shoe and beyond.
"The opportunity to break through boundaries and demographics with Native made me want to join the team," says Mark Gainor. "Native is so accessible and the designs seemed to resonate differently with everyone who came in contact with them."
We interviewed Mark Gainor, who serves as Creative Director for Native Shoes, to get the scoop on what life is like for himself and the team based in Vancouver, BC. We asked him about how he initially became involved with Native, we got details on the new Apollo design and much more - check it out!
As Creative Director for Native Shoes, could you explain what your role is with the company - what exactly do you do?
As Creative Director I am responsible for creating the look and feel of the brand and product. That includes printed matter, digital, environments, products, floppy disks, private jets– anything that needs to have Native visuals and vibes attached to it. I work with our in-house team - The Department of New Thoughts - (D.O.N.T.) to create the graphics, designs, artwork, copy, magic and whatever else is needed to supply the vibes.
What did you see in Native that made you want to join the team?
The power of a new idea. It was a fresh perspective on footwear. Native is so accessible and the designs seemed to resonate differently with everyone who came in contact with them. This chance to reach a wide market was, and is, very appealing. The opportunity to break through boundaries and demographics with Native made me want to join the team.
What was your game plan coming in to make sure you contributed to the continued success of Native?
Before we started any sketching or ideation for the new products, we spent a long time deciphering what it was that made this brand so appealing to so many people. We knew it was much more then EVA. Our customers come to us for our mix of classic footwear and futuristic materials, or as we call it, “Future Classics”. Our game plan is simple, to be inspired by classic footwear from the past and be informed by the materials and construction of the future. We executed the Future Classics formula and created the Apollo. Moving forward, we will continue to use it for upcoming products.
The new Apollo will drop at Agenda - what can we expect from the Native’s latest product?
The Apollo is inspired by the moccasin. We started with an in-depth study of the classic moccasin form and reduced it down to an elegant single piece pattern. From there we brought it into the future with no-sew welded construction, ultra lightweight breathable microfiber and a three piece blown EVA outsole. It weighs only about 160 grams, and I'm pretty sure it is the lightest moccasin in the world.
What else is new with Native? Any plans to use other new materials? Any thoughts on new product?
Yes. We are developing a bunch of new materials and products, and the D.O.N.T. team is working as we speak on some really exciting new developments in an unmarked, secret lab in the foothills of China. But sadly, I have been sworn to secrecy and cannot disclose any details right now...
Native Shoes have been around since 2009; where is there room for growth and where do you see the brand in another five years?
The Future Classic formula road maps huge new opportunities for where this brand can go in the long term. We’re a design company that makes beautiful, purpose-driven footwear. We have big plans for the years ahead of us.
How can Native become a lasting brand? What will be your role in developing a sound future for the company?
We have an extraordinary team. From management to our sales team, distributors and retail partners we have the best in the biz. My role is to inspire and be inspired by both our in-house team and our collaborators and partners around the world.
How does your previous professional experience help you most in your current role with Native?
It’s all about participating. Jump in and get busy. Don’t wait for anything or anyone just get moving and everything else will sort its self out.
What is the best part of your job?
Access to all you can eat chicken foot soup in our secret Chinese Lab. Delicious.
What has been the biggest challenge for you as Creative Director for Native shoes?
Learning to merge design and creativity with the other moving parts of a successful company. It can take some time to find the sweet spot - the mix of design and operations that allows us to thrive.
Care to add any last words?
Keep your head up, don’t trip on yourself.
Keep it lite!
Native Shoes will also have this Chukka version of the Apollo available to touch and feel at the Agenda Show in Long Beach on July 10-11, 2014. Come check it out at booth F12! And be sure to visit Native on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.