MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Zachary Montague, IDSA goes viral on TikTok

Dec 23 2022 - 12:42pm


Zachary Montague, IDSA is an industrial designer and artist, currently working as an Associate Product Designer on Bed Bath and Beyond’s owned brands design team. His experience with IDSA began as a student while studying design at Thomas Jefferson University where he was active with the student chapter. After graduation (in 2020), Zachary states that, “IDSA had provided me with a talented network to reach out to and learn from as I navigated my job search during the beginning of the pandemic. The relationships I gained through IDSA inspired me to continue to improve my design skills and pushed me to continue reaching out for opportunities while we were all in lockdown.” 

When the Covid-19 lockdowns began, Zachary found himself looking to work on personal projects to keep busy. Many supply stores were not open at this time and so he instead looked to materials that available at his home. 

“I found inspiration with some old clothes I had not worn in a while, particularly a pair of jeans. I began to reconstruct the components of the jeans and repurpose them into how I imagine they would look and function as footwear. I currently explore the idea of repurposing existing clothing to create alternative footwear design with the account “StudioZabi” on Instagram and TikTok.” 

One of his concepts in particular has recently gone viral on TikTok. At the time of this writing, ‘The Suit Shoe’ has garnered over 23 million views, 1+ million likes, 14k+ comments, and 55k+ reshares. Zachary shares, "I designed a "Suit Shoe" concept as a part of my alternative footwear initiative where I create "Unfortunate Footwear". It is an upcycled thrifted suit that I transformed into footwear. The concept uses the same mechanisms that a suit uses, designed to be a shoe instead."

So we had to ask … Why do you think the Suit Shoe found such a wide audience? What has the reaction been like?

“The Suit Shoe has been my most popular shoe concept by far, and I believe this is due to the controversial nature of the design. Most people tend to think statically about the cultural norms and traditions in regard to how we wear clothing, and seeing these norms challenged evokes emotional responses. The Suit Shoe has had a wide range of both positive and negative reactions, from many asking to purchase a pair to others wishing they never even saw it in the first place, and everywhere in between. Whether someone views it as comedic, ironic, silly, awful or offensive, I believe the design made a lot of people rethink what clothing can be.” 

Check out some behind the scenes of the Suit Shoe development process:

More about Zachary

Zachary graduated in 2020 from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia with a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Design. His personal interests include woodworking, ceramics, shoe making, weaving and various other hands-on activities that allow him to be creative. Zachary hopes to spread the inspiration he has received through IDSA to other young designers in the same way it did for him.

Learn more about Zachary @StudioZabi on Instagram or on TikTok. He's also on LinkedIn.