Footwear of the future

Twenty eight-year-old Jayda Hany is a veritable pioneer footwear designer.  Not only are her shoe designs unique, but so is the high tech process of their manufacture. Hany is the first and only designer in Egypt who has mastered 3D modeling and is able to print out her designs and successfully transform them into wearable shoes. eniGma’s Farida El Sayed talked to the budding designer to hear her story.

As a young girl, Hany always had a strong interest in fashion and knew she wanted a career in that industry. However, worried about the vagaries of the fashion industry, her parents steered her away from the study of fashion design at the undergraduate level, and convinced her to pursue a more traditional course of study, at least initially.  She decided she would study Architectural Engineering at the American University in Cairo (AUC) and then go on to study fashion design. Looking back, Hany’s background in architectural engineering, rather than being a diversion from the career she wanted in fashion, proved to be a brilliant move that propelled her into the field of high tech design and production which makes her footwear line so special.

Upon her graduation from AUC, in 2012, Hany enrolled in the prestigious London College of Fashion, the following year. There she undertook a Bachelor and a Master’s degree in footwear design, which she had decided was her real passion.  No sooner had she finished her studies, she got the chance to participate in New York Fashion Tech week, where she showed her first ever collection, which was part of her master’s graduation project.  To her delight and surprise, her “Connector Collection” of intricately designed footwear caught the attention of BMW, the luxury carmaker, who was sponsoring the Fashion Week.  Out of all the other international designers present there, the German supercar brand picked Hany to customise an M4 BMW car based on one of her shoe designs!

A few months later, back in Egypt, Hany single-handedly launched her first ready-to-wear collection, Riv-it, in which she balanced 3D technology with handcrafting techniques. That was quite a feat, and had definitely not been done in Egypt before.  Hany explains how her collection was inspired by the streets of Cairo, and particularly, by the Imbaba Bridge. “The bridge has a lot of structural design elements to it, but the bolts that connect different structural systems of the bridge to each other, were my main inspiration,” explains Hany.  Besides providing her with inspiration, Hany’s training as an architect has clearly also given her the technological tools to succeed in her unique high tech design path.

“It’s very rare to see a footwear designer who works with 3D printing that’s wearable,” she proudly explains.  “Usually when you see 3D printed shoes, they’re just showpieces; they don’t sustain weight.  I made it a point that the shoes in my Connector collection would be 3D printed and would be wearable.  I don’t want my shoes just to be placed in museums and galleries to be looked at.  In my photo shoots, you can see that all the models are wearing them standing up and walking around. I wanted to create something that’s ready-to-wear for day-to-day use and that would also reflect women’s individuality as human beings.” 

While one might think it would be difficult for her to produce her designs in Egypt, Hany’s optimism stands out. “I can’t imagine myself producing anywhere except Egypt,” she says.  “While I resort to importing certain parts sometimes, in general I always produce here in Egypt.”

Although this is only Hany’s first ready-to-wear collection, she is hopeful about the Egyptian market. “Even though I’m not breaking even yet, I am selling. I think that’s a very good start for my new collection,” she says, with obvious pride.  “Egyptian consumers are more supportive of local brands than I expected them to be.” 

Looking ahead, Hany is already planning her next collection, which will include a collaboration with Ahmed El Fishawy to produce tattooed trainers/lifestyle.

The future looks bright for this brilliant young Egyptian pioneer.