Rem D Koolhaas, Founder Of Lit Shoe Brand United Nude, On Breaking Rules & Making Cool Shoes
Bette Midler rightly articulated the power of shoes when she said, “I firmly believe that with the right footwear one can rule the world”. Heel-lujah!
You want to have a good day? Put on your best heels and the world smiles with you. It’s all about starting off on a right foot, isn’t it? Like a good breakfast, to kick start your day.
Never compromise, always give yourself the best and here’s why your partner in carpe diem oughta be United Nude.
1/5Nod Of Approval
Coming from an illustrious architect family, Rem D Koolhaas was studying architecture when he went through a big break up. He began channeling his energy into scaling down his creative process and creating cardboard models of the shoe he designed.
His famous architect uncle showed the design to Miuccia Prada, and she invited him to Milan to meet their head of shoe design. “I was then advised to meet more people and began calling up Versace, Sergio Rossi, Dolce & Gabbana. Everyone I met told me the designs are really nice but it’s not their signature,” recalled Rem during our chat at the United Nude store in The Gardens Mall.
His light bulb moment came when he realised that the only way to put the shoes on the shelves is to start his very own line.
A chance meeting with Galahad Clark, the seventh-generation shoemaker from the famous Clarks brand, put his dreams in motion. Close to his graduation and countless designs later, Rem made a prototype that could be walked in and both of them met Sergio Rossi the designer himself. “He so kindly helped us on a friendly basis and introduced us to a technical shoemaker the brand uses to make the most difficult shoe construction.”
Enter Möbius, instantly recognisable from its hollow heel which traces a continuous loop from the heel to the front. It's the first creation under the United Nude banner. “The shoe was so difficult to make that it had to be made by car parts maker. Möbius changed the way shoes were made and the materials used to make them too were unheard of in shoemaking.”
3/5No Rules Rule
With no background in shoemaking and armed with a sound architectural understanding, Rem clearly had an edge over his contemporaries. His shoes have his own stamp and by combining forces with Clarks, he was unstoppable.
“One of my favourite sayings are: ‘I broke the rules of shoemaking not for the sake of breaking them, but simply by not knowing them’. One could have only made these shoes if you didn’t know the rules of shoemaking,” he said.
Born from a strong desire to challenge himself, he had envisioned the brand to be a future-spect brand as opposed to a retrospective one.
Launched in 2003, the Dutch brand continues to make headway in creating heels with a twist. From the single continuous curve of Möbius to Charles & Ray Eames Lounge chair-inspired Eamz heel and the minimalist Loop; United Nude has all the cool trappings of the mark of an individual.
It hits the spot with urban-edged cool and accessible price point. “The United Nude woman is a trendsetter, confident of her personal style and has a strong character. Our shoes will get you the right attention,” declares the designer who now calls LA home.
The newer collection boasts fresher techniques such as laser printing and more cutting-edge heels, including one that gives the illusion of a floating cube heel.
United Nude has been constantly pushing boundaries from day one, and they’ve drawn enough attention to warrant big brands to start collaborating for runway shows and shoots. They did nine seasons with Iris Van Herpen and made exclusive 3D-printed shoes with Zaha Hadid, Ross Lovegrove and Issey Miyake, among others.
“I also designed a car under the Lo Res project, one went on to be featured in Kendrick Lamar’s video, one is in Dubai and other 3 are in LA. I won’t limit my creative abilities, I’m only 44 and I’m not done yet. Maybe one day you will find United Nude hotels, who knows. I just love designing.”
United Nude is currently available in over 50 countries including Amstedam, Tokyo and Beijing; as well as at The Gardens Mall and 1 Utama Shopping Centre in Malaysia.
- Images United Nude