Why Hawthorn's Josh Gibson is your new favourite shoe designer

In what is a goal-kicking move, Melbourne-based footwear label Bared has collaborated with AFL superstar Josh Gibson for two shoe designs.

Bared founder Anna Baird teamed with the sportsman to create a 1960s-inspired Chelsea boot for the Beatles-meets-Jagger salutation and a pair of white sneakers for lovers of sport luxe modernism.

It's a design move that coincides with the opening of the footwear brand's newest, inner-city store that will offer a bigger focus to the well-shod men about Melbourne.

A jazzy feat

"Expanding into the city with a store is a great way for us to make the product more appealing to the male customer," says Baird, who launched the brand in 2008 with its flagship in Armadale.

The former Manchester Lane venue has been transformed into a high ceiling, timber embellished New York-inspired warehouse delight that's got unisex on the brain.

It's filled with an abundance of green plant life [it is in a basement after all] and showcases new footwear designs on metal shelving with hints of velvet and leather – large library windows, tall steel shelving that's hooked on old glamour and modern interiors.

The fit out took six months to perfect and Baird worked closely with Lucienne Hemingway from Curious By Design, Cod Build, Tooltime Engineering with mirrors by David's Glass.

There's a nod to its jazz past with its brooding cool, but Baird is planning on writing her own soundtrack within the new premises.

Off the beaten path

"We started focusing on men's shoes about four years ago and it's an expanding side of the business roll out," says Baird.

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"In the beginning, I didn't want to do men's shoes because their shoes overall aren't as bad for your body's posture as women's stilettos are," says the former podiatrist who started designing shoes to bring comfort to the dance floor.  

"High end British constructed shoes that sell for $500 a pair aren't that comfortable to wear until about 12 months of wearing them in," says Baird.

"With that in mind we wanted to be the missing link between that high end and the comfort brands like Ecco and Rockport. At the same time we don't want to be a comfort brand that looks better than other comfort brands, we are a fashion brand that's good for you," she says.

Booting up

The collaboration with Gibson seemed destiny in the making.

"Josh came into the Armadale shop about four years ago and bought some shoes," says Baird.

"He went back to Hawthorn FC and told his podiatrist about the shoes he bought. Turned out the podiatrist knew me and had been talking up my shoes for a while," says Baird.

"Josh is a very generous person and asked if we could do some shoes together. He is a great guy who brings plenty of soul and identity to the brand. The collaboration is supposed to light-hearted and fun," she says.

Fancy feet

The official opening night party kicks off with a guest list that includes Gibson and fellow Hawthorn teammates Jack Gunston, Ryan Schoenmakers, Liam Shiels, Melbourne Football Club player Jordan Lewis, Neighbours actress Lily Van Der Meer, Lydia Schiavello and former Bachelor contestants Lee Elliot and Georgia Love among others.

"It's a great way to highlight the men's side of the business," says Baird.

"We want to show that we make shoes with support, they're designed to be good for your body," she says. "They're not correctives but we focus on being fun, modern and give you something cool in return."

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