Simpleton | Skillshare Projects

Nick Loubser

Simpleton Co-Founder




Simpleton is a collective of 3 Industrial Designers from Welllington, New Zealand.

John Chen, Nick Loubser and Geoff Wright 


We were approached by NZ sneaker brand Tobe to collaborate and rebrand an exclusive range of their lifestyle shoes for Spring 2013. 

We were given:

-2 x Shoe Silhouette Patterns
-Material Pallette 
-Time Frame
-Market Direction


Simpleton: Use Your Youth

Humble craftsmen with a passion for innovating market excitement and pioneering honest and utilitarian product


 Logo Development


The theme is about doing it yourself, living off the land and giving an appreciation to self sustaining tasks such as; brewing your own beer, roasting your own coffee beans, working with your hands and that craft nature that gives a sense of accomplishment.

These simple pleasure are often lost in our fast-paced, technology filled, metropolis lifestyles and we wanted to pay homage to this through our Spring footwear collection 

Initial Ideation Sketches

Target Market

Initial Theme Proposal

Our initial pack proposal consisted of an earth tone inspired colourway with heavy influences from organic materials and local craft. 

In the pack you would receive:

1 x Pair of Shoes
1 x Bag of Coffee Beans
1 x Personal Hessian / Cardboard Packaging

Through our initial user feedback, we quickly realised how cliche and ordinary this solution was. Which only appealed to quite a defined small niche market. We wanted this collection to stand alone as an aesthetically on point shoe, which the early adopters would view as a staple in their wardrobe. 

So from this we went through an iterative colourway process to create a more engaging and fresh solution. 

Colour Exploration

Final Styles

Tongue Tag Development

Laser cut tongue tags with rastered number out of 200 pairs..  to give each pair a sense of exclusivity.

First Round of Samples

We wanted to create a space where the design / materiality / craftsmanship of our range was appreciated and not just fade into the over saturated fashion/sneaker market. 

Therefore we chose to go down an unconventional sales pathway by not going through a retail shop.

Reinforced by our intial feedback from users in the connotations generally associated with boutique stores being: a 'fake greeting' and the 'pressure to purchase'.

This is why we chose to sell our shoes through a local coffee shop.

The coffee shop that we pre-sold from; Raglan Roast, roasted their own coffee beans and this really was what resonated with us, in wanting our range to be in an environment where craft was appreciated. 

The whole vibe of Raglan Roast is about:

  • Local people doing it big
  • Supporting the little man
  • Achieving quality and craft through the attention to what the people want. 


Collaboration Launch

Vinyl on Ply, A Frame Sign [Top]

Coffee Ground Stencil [Bottom]



We found that the people coming in really did appreciate the environment we created.. 

With being able to:

  • come grab a coffee
  • sit down and chill out 
  • talk to us and hear the story

Then if they were into it they could try on their size and pick a style to pre-order.

This definitely helped in one of our main objectives of connecting the consumer more with the design.

Business Model:
Made to Order


-Lean business model 
-Avoiding the investment of capital and holding on to dead stock 
-Ability to sell product to the customer at a wholesale price 
-More intimate connection between user and designer
-Direct to customer with no middle man 


-Selling the 'idea' & 'story' of the shoe without receiving any product
-6 to 8 week wait time of order being manufactured and shipped back to New Zealand

Graphic Marketing:

At this point we had the story, the product and the environment sorted, so we moved our focus into creating exposure for the range. 

Visual marketing was created by our graphic designer Amy Cole

A5 Flyer + A3 Poster


Customer Consideration: Attention to Detail

Creating an assurance with the customer that their product is being processed and keeping them excited about the launch party.  

Launch Event Tickets


Continued Exposure:

Through being at Raglan Roast and meeting/talking to people who came in for coffee or shoes, we quickly established ourselves as an honest, approachable collective of young designers.

The community responded well and the support we received in spreading the word [through many mediums] really helped in driving our pre-sales.

Live Radio Campaign

We had a local radio station come in to play a live set for the day. Significant spike in foot traffic through the space and our best day of pre-sales.

Link to a Radio ad:


Blog Features

Final Order

-150 Pairs Pre-Sold @ $120 NZD [Shoes, Bag of Coffee, Ticket to the launch party]
-200 Ordered with plans to move the extra 50 through the other Raglan Roast coffee shops around the country. 

This project is currently live and we are in the process of organising our photo campaign and launch event.

Photo Campaign:

The idea of nostalgia and childhood memories
A simple rope swing in an urban / city environment uses the juxtaposition of these 2 elements to highlight the theme of 'Simpler Times'. 

Photos: Nikita Brown 

Apparel: T-Shirt Design

Retail Model: Shoe Bus

Simply-Fly is a Bedford van in which mobile street and event sales can be achieved. Like the local ice cream van, the mobility of the bus can be more in touch with the market than a simple shop. The basic ply wood make up of the vans interior makes it a cheap yet affective marketing and sales strategy. Oh and we’ll sell coffee, need I say more. 


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