SREFIDENSI – Interview with Filling Pieces’ Guillaume Philibert

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email

Filling Pieces is radically different from every other footwear brand out there. It’s driven by a unique vision and a true passion for great design. Although far from a one-man show these days, many of the ideas that make this Amsterdam-based company so special have sparked in the brilliant mind of its founder, Guillaume Philibert. Having just finished the amazing Fall Winter collection and returned from a photo shoot in Iceland, he was kind enough to tell us more about his state of mind.

Guillaume, you created Filling Pieces to bridge the gap between high-end and athletic sneakers. That was almost seven years ago. How do you feel that the market has changed in the meantime?

This gap between high-end fashion and streetwear has been narrowing down in the fashion industry quite rapidly over the past two or three years as well. Street-inspired clothing is becoming high fashion and vice versa. Boundaries are becoming blurry and valid questions are raised on what is considered fashion or art, design or streetwear. A lot of brands and people are jumping into this dialogue. Sometimes they are taking the discussion on the next level – or diluting it. Either way, this independent lifestyle has become more visible I feel it’s a general progression.

FP is one of the youngest brands in the market and yet you seem to have found your own style very quickly. How much have you stuck to your initial vision of what FP could be? Is the “filling piece” still the same?

Our own style was considered radically different than what was dominating the sneaker market back then; technical footwear and luxury designer sneakers. It was a whole new proposition and therefore very unique and easily recognizable. Although our designs, techniques and materials progressed over the years, our vision on what FP is about is still the same: a contemporary sneaker brand for the independent-spirited. The only thing that changed is that we managed to create a global platform where we feel confident. The idea of mixing high quality designer label craftsmanship with an innovative footwear silhouette is very topical right now in the whole fashion industry. For us it’s about staying in touch with our hearts and minds with our team and the global FP extended family in order to keep the good flows going. Innovation, creativity and ideas will follow.

Radically different ideas can only come from an inspired mind. What is it that inspires you as a shoe designer?

I don’t necessarily consider myself a “shoe designer”, but more a creative in general. To me FP is about a lifestyle, not only the actual product. So at FP I work on shoots, events, retail installations, the whole package – and sometimes I just spend the afternoon playing around with our DJ set. My background is also in architecture, so I can take inspiration from a piece of furniture, a detail in a façade of a building, a fabric of a hammock or a sound or lyric. As far as visionaries, I have a few people that really inspire me with varying backgrounds. In architecture I would say Le Corbusier, Zaha Hadid, Mies van der Rohe, and Rem Koolhaas are very important to me. More recently Daniel Arsham is somebody I find very interesting. From the world of fashion I like Raf, Virgil and former Margiela. On the music side of things I feel Kanye West, Pharrell and Q Tip are true geniuses.

As the founder, you are very much the face of FP. Would you please tell us more about your team? How how many people are involved nowadays?

My team is my family. Without my team I would have never came this far. If you walk in to the FP headquarters in Amsterdam, you will immediately feel the family vibe. I pride myself with such an amazing group of dedicated people around me. Through the years we have added great talent to the team. Our current head of marketing, Gordon, used to work for one of the very first stores that stocked FP. My younger brother, Paulinho, who is now in charge of our e-commerce was the first that started helping me out back in the day. One of my designers, Rizky, started out as an intern and has worked in almost every department. From client support to handling webshop orders and now he’s my wingman on design. We recently hired a new art director and a crazy designer from Denmark. For me personally it’s important that every member of the team feels at home and enjoys what they are doing. Today we have around 45 people working for FP and we’re expanding every season.

Filling Pieces Sfrefidensi

You obviously take pride in being an Amsterdam brand. How are your surroundings reflected in your designs? How much Amsterdam is in FP?

FP is a product of Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a melting pot of cultures. The people are known for their open and explorative nature, as we are also born curious. Our designs are inspired by different cultures, backgrounds, by architecture, basically by everything we experience on a daily basis.

Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind your current (AW 2016) collection? What is reflected in these pieces?

Our next collection for autumn/winter 2016 is named Srefidensi. Srefidensi means independence in Surinamese. The native tongue of Surinam, the country where my parents grew up. The reason why we have chosen this concept is that we are truly independent and free to design whatever we feel like. For example, in the sneaker world, it’s common practice to use a universal sole like the Italian cup soles from Margom. Many brands use this one sole. For years we have also used the same sole units. For this season we took all our soles to the drawing board and created our own designs. This has been a great expedition resulting in some radical new designs like the Astro sole.

You mention freedom a lot and it seems to be at core of Filling Pieces. Why is that concept so important to you?

Freedom. Independence. For us is being able to wake up every morning and do what we love. Being able to create a product we like and feel comfortable with. Freedom for us is the ability to travel the world with friends and enjoy the good things in life. And last, freedom for us is that we are able to design what we want when we want.

Your shoes are produced in Portugal, which seems like an important quality factor. Before you went for Portugal, did you check for production possibilities in the Netherlands and other European countries?

In Holland there are no production facilities that can make shoes in such quality and volume. In Europe a few places are relevant and well known for their high quality footwear production, Italy and Portugal being the prominent ones. We use a lot of Italian premium leathers that are being hand sewn in Portugal. For us this combination is the best of both worlds, being able to offer a luxury product at an attractive price point for our fans.

Where do you see your brand in ten years?

I honestly cannot predict this. If you would have told me ten years ago that I would be heading up a global sneaker company working with the best retailers in the world, I would have had a good laugh. We’ve got many dreams, many ambitions. I’m happy when I get to work with the best people out there and still be able to enjoy the ride as well.

Thanks for the interview – you can check out parts of the latest collection below!

This interview was originally published in Sneakers Magazine #31 – GET YOUR COPY HERE!

Printshopping_2
Filling Pieces Single VelcroFilling Pieces Srefidensi Neo Lace MixFilling Pieces Srefidensi EntwineFilling Pieces Srefidensi EmbraceFilling Pieces Srefidensi CrossoverFilling Pieces Srefidensi Cane

 Filling Pieces is radically different from every other footwear brand out there. It’s driven by a unique vision and a true passion for great design. Although far from a one-man show these days, many of the ideas that make this Amsterdam-based company so special have sparked in the brilliant mind of its founder, Guillaume Philibert. Having just finished the amazing Fall Winter collection and returned from a photo shoot in Iceland, he was kind enough to tell us more about his state of mind.

Guillaume, you created Filling Pieces to bridge the gap between high-end and athletic sneakers. That was almost seven years ago. How do you feel that the market has changed in the meantime?

This gap between high-end fashion and streetwear has been narrowing down in the fashion industry quite rapidly over the past two or three years as well. Street-inspired clothing is becoming high fashion and vice versa. Boundaries are becoming blurry and valid questions are raised on what is considered fashion or art, design or streetwear. A lot of brands and people are jumping into this dialogue. Sometimes they are taking the discussion on the next level – or diluting it. Either way, this independent lifestyle has become more visible I feel it’s a general progression.

FP is one of the youngest brands in the market and yet you seem to have found your own style very quickly. How much have you stuck to your initial vision of what FP could be? Is the “filling piece” still the same?

Our own style was considered radically different than what was dominating the sneaker market back then; technical footwear and luxury designer sneakers. It was a whole new proposition and therefore very unique and easily recognizable. Although our designs, techniques and materials progressed over the years, our vision on what FP is about is still the same: a contemporary sneaker brand for the independent-spirited. The only thing that changed is that we managed to create a global platform where we feel confident. The idea of mixing high quality designer label craftsmanship with an innovative footwear silhouette is very topical right now in the whole fashion industry. For us it’s about staying in touch with our hearts and minds with our team and the global FP extended family in order to keep the good flows going. Innovation, creativity and ideas will follow.

Radically different ideas can only come from an inspired mind. What is it that inspires you as a shoe designer?

I don’t necessarily consider myself a “shoe designer”, but more a creative in general. To me FP is about a lifestyle, not only the actual product. So at FP I work on shoots, events, retail installations, the whole package – and sometimes I just spend the afternoon playing around with our DJ set. My background is also in architecture, so I can take inspiration from a piece of furniture, a detail in a façade of a building, a fabric of a hammock or a sound or lyric. As far as visionaries, I have a few people that really inspire me with varying backgrounds. In architecture I would say Le Corbusier, Zaha Hadid, Mies van der Rohe, and Rem Koolhaas are very important to me. More recently Daniel Arsham is somebody I find very interesting. From the world of fashion I like Raf, Virgil and former Margiela. On the music side of things I feel Kanye West, Pharrell and Q Tip are true geniuses.

As the founder, you are very much the face of FP. Would you please tell us more about your team? How how many people are involved nowadays?

My team is my family. Without my team I would have never came this far. If you walk in to the FP headquarters in Amsterdam, you will immediately feel the family vibe. I pride myself with such an amazing group of dedicated people around me. Through the years we have added great talent to the team. Our current head of marketing, Gordon, used to work for one of the very first stores that stocked FP. My younger brother, Paulinho, who is now in charge of our e-commerce was the first that started helping me out back in the day. One of my designers, Rizky, started out as an intern and has worked in almost every department. From client support to handling webshop orders and now he’s my wingman on design. We recently hired a new art director and a crazy designer from Denmark. For me personally it’s important that every member of the team feels at home and enjoys what they are doing. Today we have around 45 people working for FP and we’re expanding every season.

Filling Pieces Sfrefidensi

You obviously take pride in being an Amsterdam brand. How are your surroundings reflected in your designs? How much Amsterdam is in FP?

FP is a product of Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a melting pot of cultures. The people are known for their open and explorative nature, as we are also born curious. Our designs are inspired by different cultures, backgrounds, by architecture, basically by everything we experience on a daily basis.

Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind your current (AW 2016) collection? What is reflected in these pieces?

Our next collection for autumn/winter 2016 is named Srefidensi. Srefidensi means independence in Surinamese. The native tongue of Surinam, the country where my parents grew up. The reason why we have chosen this concept is that we are truly independent and free to design whatever we feel like. For example, in the sneaker world, it’s common practice to use a universal sole like the Italian cup soles from Margom. Many brands use this one sole. For years we have also used the same sole units. For this season we took all our soles to the drawing board and created our own designs. This has been a great expedition resulting in some radical new designs like the Astro sole.

You mention freedom a lot and it seems to be at core of Filling Pieces. Why is that concept so important to you?

Freedom. Independence. For us is being able to wake up every morning and do what we love. Being able to create a product we like and feel comfortable with. Freedom for us is the ability to travel the world with friends and enjoy the good things in life. And last, freedom for us is that we are able to design what we want when we want.

Your shoes are produced in Portugal, which seems like an important quality factor. Before you went for Portugal, did you check for production possibilities in the Netherlands and other European countries?

In Holland there are no production facilities that can make shoes in such quality and volume. In Europe a few places are relevant and well known for their high quality footwear production, Italy and Portugal being the prominent ones. We use a lot of Italian premium leathers that are being hand sewn in Portugal. For us this combination is the best of both worlds, being able to offer a luxury product at an attractive price point for our fans.

Where do you see your brand in ten years?

I honestly cannot predict this. If you would have told me ten years ago that I would be heading up a global sneaker company working with the best retailers in the world, I would have had a good laugh. We’ve got many dreams, many ambitions. I’m happy when I get to work with the best people out there and still be able to enjoy the ride as well.

Thanks for the interview – you can check out parts of the latest collection below!

This interview was originally published in Sneakers Magazine #31 – GET YOUR COPY HERE!

Printshopping_2
Filling Pieces Single VelcroFilling Pieces Srefidensi Neo Lace MixFilling Pieces Srefidensi EntwineFilling Pieces Srefidensi EmbraceFilling Pieces Srefidensi CrossoverFilling Pieces Srefidensi Cane

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on email