Andrew Cox - Head Designer Kustom Footwear

When and where did you start surfing?
I got into surfing quite late actually. I mainly skateboarded when I was in high school in Melbourne. When I finished year 12 and had a bit more freedom and a drivers license, I went on a few trips down to Torquay and Bells beach with some friends and got hooked pretty quick.

What do you love about surfing?
Nature, Barrels, trying different boards, exploring new places. My friends and I still love going off the beaten track, to try and find new places to surf.

Do you have a session that stands out as your most memorable?
My most memorable session was along the Great Ocean Road about 6 years ago. Just my friend and I in the water, about 4 foot, not a breath of wind, sun setting at this super long right hand point break.

What kind of education have you had?
I have a degree in Industrial design from RMIT in Melbourne, majoring in Domestic product design, Furniture design, and Model making

How did you get into product design, in particular footwear and accessories?
I had just started my honours year at RMIT, and I saw an ad in the paper for a junior designer at Globe Shoes. I was skateboarding alot, and had a big interest in skate shoes, so I was so excited by this ad. I had zero shoe design or industry experience, but I did have a fresh degree in product design. But I wanted to make sure I had more than enough for the interview, so I did some sketches for my own skate shoe design, and I also went and bought a pair of Globe shoes and sketched them from a few different angles. I got the job, and bailed on my honours year.

What is you current job and what does it entail?
I am the head designer for Kustom footwear. I travel internationally gathering ideas, inspiration, and new development techniques, then combine this with relevant sales data to plan out the design direction for Kustoms global range of mens shoes and sandals. Then, together with my team we design and spec all the products in Adobe Illustrator and send them to China. I also make regular trips to China with our production manager to check on development and production, gather new fabrics from the markets, negotiate prices, and find new factories.

What kind of things do you draw influence from when designing your products at Kustom?
Classic Retro sneakers, super modern running shoes, clothing fabrics, other accessories such a caps and backpacks, car and bike design, surfboard art, architectural wall patterns, street art.

What do you love about your job?
I love Sneakers! and I love that we are a small brand. Our office in Burleigh is the main hub for Kustom globally, so we don't need to answer to too many people. We have alot of creative freedom, which is a precious thing. We have a small team, and we all do a little bit of everything. I have learnt so much, by being across so many aspects of the business. The travel is also great too.

How did you get to the position you are in today?
I worked at Globe Shoes for a couple of years, then I went freelance for a few years, taking on alot of Toy design projects from Moose Enterprises, for something fun and different. I was working from home designing toys, and surfing whenever I could. Fun days! Anyway, after the toy projects started to dry up, I did a few freelance shoe projects for Roxy. They offered me a full time job as a Quiksilver accessories designer down in Torquay! I moved to Torquay and worked for Quiksilver for a few years, then a friend of mine who was working at Kustom footwear called me to see if I was interested in designing shoes again. I was stoked, and took the job. Shoes have always been a pinnacle product for me, I mean sneakers are one of the only products in our industry that have whole magazines dedicated exclusively to them.

Do you have any advice for budding designers wanting to work in the surf industry?
If you do what is required you might do ok, but if you do extra you will succeed for sure. Passion is at the top of the list, most other skills can be taught over time. Being fluent in Adobe Illustrator will also get you places. Also, focus on new ideas and designs, that the industry has not seen before. The industry can get caught up in trends more so than innovation sometimes, and as a result we can end up with lots of versions of the same things. The industry is secretly screaming out for new! Go for it!

Where can we find you online?

Instagram: @kustomfootwear


Posted by: Troy Roennfeldt, on April 28, 2014
Categories: Interviews