The World's First One-Piece, 3D-Printed Sneaker Was Just Created by...a Bourbon Brand

Bulleit Frontier Whiskey teamed up with artist Kyle Steed and industrial design firm Tangible Creative to make the shoes.
IMAGE @mikekimbackwards

At this point, we’ve seen some...let's say unexpected brand collaborations, from Pizza Hut Pie Tops II to the Supreme Metro Card. But a 3D-printed sneaker collaboration between a whisky company and a street artist? It’s a whole new level of weird. And yet, it feels oddly sophisticated and sort of organic. Bulleit Frontier Whiskey unveiled the latest collaboration of its Frontier Works project last night, a 3D-printed sneaker designed by nationally recognized, Dallas-based artist Kyle Steed and manufactured by Tangible Creative, which specializes in industrial design and 3D printing. 

Last night, I joined the brand celebrate at the launch of the new collaboration at the Ervay Theatre in Dallas, where they served the world’s first 3D-printed cocktails at a 3D-printed bar where the brand new 3D-printed sneakers were unveiled. 3D printing is nothing new in 2019, and even 3D-printed sneakers has already been a thing for awhile. But I've got to say: The way the brand is utilizing the technology is cool as hell.

A prototype of the sneaker.

Photo by Bulleit.

Bulleit has been at this for a while, partnering up with creatives that have a sense of alignment with the brand. This isn't even the first time that Kyle Steed and Bulleit have worked together—Steed designed the logo for a barrel-aged denim project with Bulleit a few years back. But it is the first time that Steed has worked on a sneaker or 3D printing.

Kyle Steed with the new 3D-printed sneaker.

Photo by Bulleit.

“I’m not a sneaker head, I usually just wear leather sandals" Steed says. "But I grew up skateboarding and have a lot of friends in that culture, so I have huge respect for the sneaker and streetwear culture.” And designing a sneaker was just a new challenge for an artist that thrives on them. “I love challenges, and whether it’s murals and I’m getting up on the fifth floor of a building and looking down 70 feet below me, or you know, it’s scratching my head and thinking, ‘How are they actually going to 3D print the shoes you can wear, and how will my art live on that piece?’”

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Speaking of challenges: These sneakers are much more complicated than the minimal shape might appear. "It's the first sneaker to ever be 3D printed in one piece," says Nevaris A.C., the co-founder and CEO of Tangible Creative. "There was a lot of trial and error; the first pair fell apart, and second was too stiff to wear. It's chemistry to get the material perfect to make the sneaker not only durable but comfortable as well." 

Aesthetically, though, the focus is all in Steed’s colorful design, a patchwork of minimal shapes that recall hands and feet. "The biggest challenge was printing the surface high-res enough to be hand painted," explains Nevaris A.C. Obviously, things worked out in the long run. The limited-edition sneakers are available to purchase now, for $250, at Sneaker Politics. There are only a couple sizes left, so hurry if you want in on the innovation. 


This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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