If you haven’t heard of Scry, it’s time to get in the know. 3D printing is nothing new, especially in fashion, but headed by Beijing-born Wei, Scry Lab takes an avant-garde approach to footwear design, differentiating itself from the norm.
A pioneer in the futuristic fashion sphere bringing hard-to-imagine, galactic silhouettes to real life, Zixiong at only 22-years-old has landed collaborations with age-old visionaries such as Iris Van Herpen as well as newfangled innovators like Sankuanz and Bitcrcrcr. Founded in 2020, Scry is an experimental project and cutting-edge tech hybrid, exploring the intersections of art, design, technology, culture and environmental values. This is the footwear of the future.
CULTED caught up with Scry Lab designer Zixiong Wei to discuss all-things futuristic footwear, his 3D rendered design process and virtual fashion.
Can you tell us about your childhood and how you were drawn to fashion and design?
I have always loved new things, and wanted to be different. When I am attracted by new images and creations, sometimes they might be from the fashion industry, but I never particularly narrow my interests in fashion. I want to have a deeper understanding of the process behind new creations and the culture they may imply. I came from a transdisciplinary background, mixing tech, design, culture, art, fashion, environment to create innovations.
When did your interest in fashion turn to shoes and sneakers? Especially digital design?
My love for footwear, digital design and the design process are all relatively older than fashion. It must have been two years ago that I decided to embrace the fashion world head-on.
What was your first pair of sports shoes?
The Reebok GL6000, an ordinary pair of running shoes.
What does the name SCRY mean?
Look into the future through a crystal ball. And, of course, it stands for my IG account, @scccccry.
Does your design really wear well? It’s so avant-garde. I wonder, now that your design combines the two, are you more focused on function or beauty?
Yes, they combine practicality with aesthetics, and have a comfortable wearing experience. As a whole, I tend to push the boundaries of aesthetics while maintaining basic functionality. For the most part, I’m an “I want both” person, and I don’t think the two are at all at odds with each other.
Tell me about digital embryo technology? Can you explain how it works and why you choose to work this way.
Under the framework of [digital embryo], whether it is additive manufacturing, AR fitting, private customization, virtual show or even AI-aided design, all digitally-related technologies and industries can be connected with data to form different and more interesting footwear ecology. Digital is what connects everything, from design to manufacturing to purchasing experiences and business models. We are working hard to create a new fashion brand that combines virtual with reality, that is at the top of the design, but also extremely open.
Under the Digital Embryo framework, in order to reduce pollution and time waste, you can publish a virtual representation of the project prior to actual production. What is sustainability worth to you and your work?
Sustainable development is a very important part of both the brand concept and my personal values. It is one of the bottom lines of our brand. We constantly practice the concept of sustainable development in the process of SCRY brand, from on-demand manufacturing to integrated recycling to virtual assets, which may be difficult for consumers to simply see. But we are still willing to invest in innovation, which is the responsibility of the brand.
Tell me more about your creative process and how you use 3D rendering and printing.
I would design without the constraints of manufacturing and then figure out how to make it happen. This mode of work allows us to constantly innovate manufacturing technology and solutions.
The colours and names of your shoes are very outer space. What was the inspiration for the moon, shadow and Mercury? Does this have anything to do with the sci-fi digital world that your work involves?
I like things that are remote and hard to touch, and I think they have a kind of neutral macro symbolism. Most of the time, my shoe names come from my most intuitive but abstract feelings.
Tell me about the Neptune Hybrid, which I think is your most creative boot. How did they form?
We want to make shoes that combine advanced manufacturing techniques with traditional footwear. On the other hand, we are also actively exploring the possibility of traditional shoe manufacturing on demand.
How do the completely virtual designs you make, like Moon, Spore, Aglare and Ediacaran, translate to real life? Is that your vision, or why you’re staying in the virtual world?
Our virtual design is more like a haute couture line, they focus more on design, aesthetics and concept. Therefore, under normal circumstances, we might not sell pure virtual shoe styles, but we will see the use of the most advanced technology in more cooperation and shooting.
Tell me about your recent collaboration with SANKUANZ on a series of Bones shoes based on the concept of symbiosis and coexistence. How did it come about and what’s the best part of it?
In our design, we integrate many models of shoes, and make them fit together as if they had never been separated. Especially in women’s shoes, we directly overlapped several designs, and imagined a dynamic process of changing, winding and wrapping from one pair of shoes to another, and then visualized these processes.
You also recently worked with Iris Van Herpen. What was it like working with such a well-known womenswear designer for her latest collection?
Very interesting collision. Because of our ability to iterate quickly, our designs are constantly changing in a very short time. And finally created the final form all together through video meetings. We exchanged ideas and moodboards, and I really enjoyed the collision of different fields.
The imaginative elements of science fiction and the resemblance to aliens are full of symbolism. Why did you choose to do something alien in your design?
I don’t think this is an alien element. I put more emphasis on the aesthetics of a new form in my design, which may come from nature, macroscopic things, architecture or even music. In many cases, I like the feeling of being one. Just as in nature, the logic of organisms is different to that of modern manufacturing processes such as assembly, where glue and stitches are not used to hold different parts together. I often ask myself, “Why is there a difference between the sole and the upper? What if my design and manufacturing processes change? Do I need to distinguish between sole and vamp? Do I need to conform to the aesthetic and perception of the ‘shoe’ that surrounds traditional manufacturing?” I think a lot of my shape design and structural design are exploring these possible fields.
In terms of the materials you use, such as matte leather and HALS high-speed printing technology, metal and woven tape, do you prefer to use or support your environmental principles?
No matter what material is used, manufacturing on demand is one of our bottom lines. We are constantly innovating sustainable ways and paths around additive manufacturing, traditional footwear and digital assets.
What do you see as the future of sci-fi fashion, digital design, production and the new virtual space-time in fashion and the wider world?
Absolute rise. SCRY is defined as a brand which could transfer between virtual world and reality, exploring new possibilities for virtual and real interaction. But personally, I’m not a big fan of pure virtual assets that are divorced from reality.
Now for a quick fire – what are the 3 best food, fashion and lifestyle locations in Beijing?
Cupone, Hospitality Club, Peiping Machine.
What’s next for you and Scry, Zixiong Wei?
A new and extremely interesting production system is coming soon, that’s all I can say.
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