When we stopped to check out the Fall 2013 collection from BEARPAW at Outdoor Retailer, we were greeted by a pretty expansive collection of boots, shoes, and slippers. Since 2001, BEARPAW has been offering footwear that combines comfort with fashion, and the line just keeps growing. Their current offerings include everything from sheepskin slippers and cozy moccasins to women’s boots with creative details like sheepskin mixed with furs and even canvas, glitter, and sparkles, along with plenty of buckles and lacing. For those looking for a bit of extra utility with their cold weather boots, they’ve got that covered too, as some boots have a waterproof membrane and a 3M Thinsulate lining to complement their TPR outsole.
With so much variety, there’s no question that BEARPAW is investing a lot of time working with designers to keep things fresh and interesting. Acknowledging the importance of artistic talent, along with a nod towards corporate stewardship, BEARPAW has been giving back to the community in an interesting manner. To foster new talent, they created the C.A.N.V.A.S. Project, which an acronym for “Creating ANew Vision At Schools”. Recognizing that school budget cuts have resulted in less money for art programs, BEARPAW chooses a different high school each quarter, allowing students to not only engage their creative vision, but giving them access to a wide audience, as BEARPAW promotes their work in print, online, and at trade shows around the country.
Kicking off the program, students at Spring-Ford High School in Royersford, Philadelphia, were provided a pair of Emma boots, and encouraged to apply their considerable talents to this somewhat unconventional canvas. As you can see from the attached images, the students used this opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of artistic styles from French Impressionism to the Italian Renaissance, while working outside the constraints of a traditional two-dimensional canvas. If you happen to get a chance to see these boots up close and personal, I suggest you do – the results are even more outstanding in person.
Rather than a cash donation, which can sometimes get wasted on administration costs and doesn’t directly stimulate the creative process, the C.A.N.V.A.S. Project offers art students an alternative creative channel. Feedback from students and instructors has been very positive, and students that might not have previously even considered the footwear industry have been presented with a new opportunity. Whether they pursue it or not, the program has allowed them to push themselves a bit, and opened their eyes to a possible career choice.