A Step Ahead

An IDSA member is capturing media attention by reimagining gowns from one of fashion's most glamorous nights—as footwear designs!

Isaac Toonkel, IDSA, was a four-year member and—during his senior year—the president of the IDSA Student Chapter at Savannah College of Art and Design. "It's amazing how quickly a community can accept and help you," he says, citing networking as the top reason for joining. "Everyone I have met through IDSA is just a wonderful person."

Toonkel graduated in June 2016 with a BFA in industrial design and began an apprecenticeship with Reebok's Innovation Team, "I've had an incredible year learning from the amazing and talented people that make up that team," he tells IDSA. Toonkel was asked to turn Met Gala 2017 red carpet gown designs into sneaker sketches using Reebok's Classic Leather as a canvas. “The fashion pieces are always so breathtaking. You can always expect wild outfits and costumes, so it was fun to use them as inspiration and a cool opportunity to bring Reebok’s Classic Leather to life in a new way.” 

Toonkel's spinoffs were based on styles including actress Blake Lively’s gold gown with blue feather detail by Versace and singer Katy Perry’s wild Maison Margiela dress, in addition to outfits worn by singer Solange Knowles, model Gigi Hadid and actress Lena Dunham. See all the outfits and the sneaker sketches on Stratosphere. Check out more coverage in Footwear News and High Snobiety.

The Millbrook, NY native is the son of artists. "I was always exposed to art and creativity from a young age. I also had access to my grandfather's carpentry and power tools so I was always building artifacts and creating my own toys."

In high school, Toonkel learned about engineering, civil architecture, CAD and circuitry. Initially when he was applying to colleges, he was interested in illustration but found that "ID was the perfect mixture of my passion for art, as well as the tactility and function associated with engineering... design and problem solving have always been a part of my life."

"What excites me about footwear design is the mixture of function and form," explains Toonkel. "I love the challenges associated with creating an item that contours to the human body, enhances human performance and impacts everyday life. While shoes have to function, first and foremost, I also love designing that 'Wow!' factor that really resonates with people and catches their eye, even if it's displayed with hundreds of other shoes."