Yong Bae Seok and Michele Lupi at Villa Necchi in Milan for the presentation of Tod’s Spring/Summer 2020

While the market continues to saturate, there is a group of design houses disrupting the seasonal format for style without borders. Born from Italy, Tod’s has become synonymous with unprecedented craftsmanship and exceptional leather goods and breaking standard convention, Tod’s has released ‘No_Code.’

In a bid to move outside rules and into innovation, the heritage company has invited a series of artists, athletes and designers to interpret the dynamic concept into accessory capsules, complete collections and one-off pieces. Leading the way for a new generation of style, South Korean-cum-European designer Yong Bae Seok has been appointed as Creative Director of ‘No_Code’ and his first project saw the fusion of a classic shoe and sporting sneaker.

The result was the perfect balance of timelessness and new-age style, and to gain insight into the concept of the No_Code vision, ICON sat down with the creative to chat design and the ever-expanding market of fashion.

ICON: Fashion lives around lifestyle, and everyone has a different one. Your aim with ‘No_Code’ and the Shoeker is to create a hybrid shoe that is be suitable for every type of lifestyle. How did you come up this vision and what was the initial approach?

Yong Bae Seok: “The idea started from our boss Mr. Della Valle who wanted a shoe perfect for every occasion and [a] lifestyle from work to the weekend… That’s how the idea of ‘No_Code’ came to life which is synonymous of freedom, so I started working on the beginning of a new generation shoe that mixes and flow between heritage, high quality, beauty and future.”

Tod’s ‘Shoeker’
ICON: How are you dealing with hype and the product of the moment? The market seems to be so saturated with quantity rather than quality.

YBS: [The] market is so confused but many brands forget the details, even small things. But for me even the smallest things make a huge impact and difference. The Shoeker belongs to a different type of district.

ICON: What is next for the hybrid? Where are you intending to take this concept of ‘No_Code’ with Tod’s?

YBS: “It started with the shoe project as of course it is in our DNA, but the idea is to go in other and wider directions. We are already doing [that] actually, with a scooter a hybrid urban vehicle with 4 wheels made by a Swiss company, called the ‘Qooder’. We teamed up with them to create a unique customisation branded by ‘No_Code’.”

ICON: So No_Code is basically a philosophy?

YBS: “Yes it is indeed. It is an umbrella where you can put different collaborations under it always relating and according to the soul and heritage of our brand.”

ICON: Are you concerned about how fast the market changing? And how dynamic and unpredictable it is?

YBS: “The trend nowadays changes too quick, we need to teach what value means again. We want to educate because there is so much mess, kids [are] buying not because they want something to wear and love, but to resell.”

ICON: What was the feedback like at the launch of these new sneakers? Especially from the old and loyal customers?

YBS: “They loved it because we unified what the old customer liked and what the new customer was looking forward to see.”

ICON: You are an extremely creative mind. Do you ever have moments where your creativity overcomes the business side?

YBS: “I used to design cars, so I had to learn the balance between beauty and sales. I love to see my shoes on the street but at the same time I want to see the immediate impact and commercial response.”