Day 138/366 – Derrick Tan, Student at Pensole Footwear Design Academy.

Name: Derrick Tan

Hometown: Sylmar, CA • Current city: Pasadena, CA • Student at the Art Center College of Design

Derrick has been in the import scene since he taught himself how to drive manual. He loves to modify cars. “It’s all about pushing your skills to the limits and being the best you can be.” He has competed in the drifting scene and claims “driving straight is boring, driving sideways is fun and difficult to do.” Many of his design ideas stem from his automotive background.

Derrick believes sneakers are more than an expensive accessory that a lot of people collect; they represent a culture that can be found all over the world. He owns 17 pairs: half athletic and half casual, dominantly black with white accents. Favorite places to shop are Neo 39 (Pasadena, CA) and Blends (Costa Mesa, CA).

Derrick and I crossed paths at Pensole Footwear Design Academy in Portland, OR. He was one of ~15 students who were presenting their final projects after completing a 2-week class at Pensole. The picture below was taken on that evening.


Students were challenged to create a shoe that a given company does not currently have on the market. Also, one that dips into an environment that they don’t address, but could feasibly branch off into. Derrick designed a sneaker specifically for bboys/bgirls that was agile, breathable, lightweight, durable (“because a dancer’s heart is in their feet”) and fresh. In the picture below – you’ll see the sneaker is high top on the lateral side and low top on the medial side; this will protect a dancer’s ankle from scraping while breaking. You’ll also notice there is a ledge in the back of the sneaker to prevent one’s pants from dragging on the dance floor. Last but not least – a boom box inspired shoe box? Cool. It’s the details that count the most. Hurdles? Flushing out the key benefits and material choices were a lot harder than Derrick had expected. Some features and materials had to be sacrificed in order to make the shoe possible and affordable which is the case in the industry.

Derrick is grateful to have participated in this once in a lifetime opportunity. He is excited to add this project to his portfolio and will take home key learning’s from inspirational industry professionals such as D’Wayne Edwards and E. Scott Morris. Derrick aspires to land a secure position in the soft goods industry and start paying back student loans! He would eventually like to launch his own line of soft goods; starting with men’s bags, then moving into eye wear and shoes. Visiting Portland again is on his list as well…he is a fan of it’s saturation of creativeness, amazing food and lack of taxes. Thanks for sharing your creation with us, Derrick! Keep up the inspiring work. 🙂



3 thoughts on “Day 138/366 – Derrick Tan, Student at Pensole Footwear Design Academy.

  1. Pingback: Day 229/366 – Derrick Tan (Senior Product Design student) shares his concept for BBOY sneakers! « 366daysofkicks

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