When Selfridges met: Niels SHOE Meulman and United Nude

— 28 February 2012

Niehls Shoe Meulman for United Nude

This month the Shoe Galleries plays host to a very fitting collaboration between high concept footwear brand United Nude and Dutch street artist Niels Shoe Meulman. On display in Selfridges until 1 March, Niels has adorned four iconic United Nude styles with his signature ‘Calligraffiti’ art to create a capsule collection of mini masterpieces for your feet.

Niels earned his stripes in the global graffiti scene in the 80s for his pioneering style, and has since coined the phrase ‘Calligraffiti’ to describe his revolutionary work which fuses the art of calligraphy and graffiti. Selfridges.com caught up with Niels and Rem, the creative director of United Nude, to delve deeper into their one-of-a-kind collaboration.

I was looking for somebody who could write beautiful graffiti. I had followed Niels’ work for many, many years as he’s a childhood hero of mine” explains Rem. “I found out through social network that we have mutual friends. We went for a beer and dinner and it went from there.

It appears Rem wasn’t the only one admiring the other’s work from afar. “They do shoes that are very unexpected and that’s what I like” says Niels. “A long, long time ago I was in Paris and I saw this shoe which I later found out was called the Möbius. It’s crafted from a single, infinite strip that forms the sole and heel and I thought ‘wow’.” 

Niehls Shoe Meulman for United Nude

Besides the undeniable mutual respect for each other’s work, the natural fit of this collaboration is certainly amplified by the fact that Niels works under the graffiti name ‘Shoe’. But how did this obscure nickname come about? “I started practising graffiti at school and used a little drawing of a shoe as my tag. But the drawing was so bad that I had to write ‘shoe’ next to it so people knew what is was. Before long the drawing disappeared by the word remained and I’ve used it ever since.

The result of the collaboration is a high concept, high attitude collection, staying true to the architectural, fiercely modern aesthetic of United Nude with an injection of Niels’ street-inspired metallic artistry. 

The pieces are one off, it is like a gallery” says Rem. “We’re in the biggest shoe gallery in the world, right? To do a shoe gallery inside a shoe gallery with an artist named ‘Shoe’ who is drawing on shoes, that’s like a club sandwich of shoe art.

Visit the exhibit in the Second Floor Shoe Galleries until 1 April and shop the striking new collection from United Nude in store or online now.

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