The challenge for five talented designers coming from five different countries was launched by Smit&Zoon in October 2020, as part of the 200th anniversary celebrations of this worldwide leader in the development and production of sustainable chemical solutions for the leather industry. The goal was to create a collection of footwear for the high-end range of the market with a special emphasis on social and environmental sustainability and with leather as the protagonist. Guided by the expertise of the Arsutoria School in Milan, these young promising international design talents presented their final prototypes in May to a jury of experts made up by Alessandro Vigano (Designer & Fashion consultant), Marc Smit (Owner Smit & Zoon), Mart Visser (Couturier), Guisi Ferré (Journalist), Angelo Lanza (Art Director AF Magazine) and Federico Poletti (Marketing Communications Director WHITE Milano), who deliberated the entries on five elements: design, innovation, storytelling, functionality and of course sustainability. Winning first place was Hommy Diaz from Los Angeles, who will have the opportunity to showcase his ‘Home Base’ collection of sneakers at the WHITE Milano fair, during the Milan Fashion Week in September 2021. That’s not all: as the winner of the Design Challenge, he received the extremely rare opportunity to video call with Queen Máxima Zorreguieta from the Netherlands during her visit to Smit & Zoon on May 26, in honour of the company’s 200-year anniversary. 

The public voting prize instead went to Greek designer Alexandros Vasdekis, thanks to his contemporary and timeless sandal design that can be worn in different ways by adding or leaving straps. The designer will now fly to Amsterdam to experience the Dutch capital at its creative best.

Coordinated by Danielle Koenen-Okkinga, Global Director of Marketing & Communication at Smit & Zoon, in addition to the winners, the Design Challenge also included the following protagonists: Guglielmo Gorno, Javier Albanil Mogollon, and Laure Wolff.

Hommy Diaz speaks to Her Majesty Queen Maxima
Zoom call with Queen Máxima
Alexandros Vasdekis’s sandal concept