Yuen is head of design with Globe Shoes, an international leader in action sports footwear for skaters and surfers as well as discerning buyers who appreciate style and performance in streetwear.

An industrial designer who left university to take up a job in sports footwear, Yuen now leads a young team
of industrial and fashion designers at Globe’s in-house design studio in Melbourne. Yuen also co-ordinates a design team in the United States and an international team of technical support staff.

“Globe is all about designing quality footwear that integrates style, performance, comfort and durability. In order to achieve that, we work very closely with professional skaters and surfers,” Yuen said.

“We talk to the people who are wearing Globe – the world’s leading male and female skaters and surfers – and throughout design and construction they are invited to wear the latest designs and test them.”

Performance skate footwear is designed to ‘integrate’ the skater or surfer’s feet with the ‘working’ surface
of the skate or board. Podiatrists assess the correct position of the foot in each model and assist designers in specifying materials and construction. The design of the sole is the most complex and once it is perfected, it is often used for multiple styles in a range.

Road testing the design is critical to the success of all Globe footwear. Multiple components and fittings are required for each and every design. To pass the test Globe shoes must withstand a high level of use and abuse, as skaters rely heavily on their feet (and shoes) to manipulate their boards to perform those awe inspiring manoeuvres that provide the attraction of skating.

The first ideas for a new design may start out as simple drawings and sketches on paper. The lead up may involve lots of drawing, rendering and freehand illustrations.

Computer aided design is only used for technical drawings and when colour needs to be applied to final concepts and models. International colour forecasting agencies are consulted to provide the latest in colour trends for each fashion season.

Yuen and his team work within short lead times for product development and are more closely aligned to fashion industry lead times of six weeks to five months. They develop three ranges a year.

From each range, up to thirty-five models are developed following an original design. Each of the thirty-five models is then styled in up to eight different colour ways. This can mean a total of up to 150 new development projects for each range! 

Some of the models are named after the professional skaters sponsored by Globe.

After Yuen and his team have produced the technical specifications, sample development begins. Between two to five rounds of development samples are completed before a confirmation sample is produced and approved for manufacture.

Computerised production drawings, size gradings and tooling are developed, and production begins. A large international support team of technicians and pattern makers, based in the US and Korea assist with production design.

Manufacturing takes place in Korea because it is the world leader in athletic footwear manufacture. The high cost of footwear production in Australia is prohibitive.

Designing for the global market, distributing to over thirty countries, Globe works hard to remain a world leader with regular launches of new innovations. ‘Gallaz’ is a newer brand by Globe, for the equivalent in the female market, and ‘Trans Element’ is a range of ‘after sport’ footwear.

Yuen is constantly on the lookout for new trends. As well as his own networking and monitoring of competitors, Yuen relies on customer feedback via the internet in planning future designs. He travels frequently to Tokyo, the US and Europe to research the market and visit international trade shows.

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