How Cesar Idrobo landed a dream job at Yeezy – footwear news
Cesar Idrobo has held some of the most sought-after jobs in footwear, and he attributes much of his success to a strong artistic influence in his life from an early age.
Idrobo, who arrived in Florida from Colombia in 2007 at the age of 17, grew up with design in his life.
“We had a very artistic environment because my grandfather is an architect, so I was always surrounded by his work and his projects,” Idrobo told FN. “And I was always encouraged from an early age to take art classes. My family forced me to become an artist.
Idrobo began his graduate studies at the University of Florida in 2007 to learn English as a second language. From there, he received his BA from Savannah College of Art and Design in Industrial Design in 2012, then received his MA in Accessory Design from the same school in 2016.
“Industrial design was a good starting point and a good foundation, but I felt the need to learn how to do something from start to finish on my own, and that’s when the accessory design came into play, ”Idrobo said.
After college, Idrobo took a traditional route for people looking for work. He started with an apprenticeship with master shoemaker Marcell Mrsan, then worked freelance as a shoe designer for Android Homme.
His big breakthrough came in 2016, landing a job as a shoe developer for Adidas Yeezy when the imprint was in its infancy.
“It was very informative to see how something falls into place, how companies approach new ventures and what it takes to start something new,” Idrobo said.
Upon completion of his tenure, Idrobo returned to freelance living, working with some of the footwear industry’s most respected companies including Altra, OluKai, and Pensole Design Academy. He was also hired for contract work at Nike as a product and graphic designer in 2018.
His first full-time gig in the industry would be in 2018, and the offering would come from a brand he was familiar with.
“It was a Sunday in April, I woke up to a voicemail from [Yeezy Lab design director] Steve Smith, and he told me someone was going to contact me because I need someone with your experience, your expertise, ”Idrobo detailed. “About 40 minutes later, I got a phone call from a random California number, and it was Kanye.”
Shortly thereafter, Idrobo was appointed shoe boss and sample designer for Yeezy.
Idrobo admitted that it took a while to get used to the rapper turned designer as the boss.
“It’s a surreal experience,” he said. “Looking at it from a university point of view, back in my bachelor’s time I saw Kanye as this creative icon, this inspiring figure to seek out for design philosophy, for creative ideas, for innovation. . “
While Idrobo has navigated the ultra-competitive footwear industry well, he recognizes that it is not easy for others with a similar education who may not know where to start to do the same. For this reason, Idrobo believes companies have a responsibility to be proactive in showing people that there is a path to success.
“It’s just important to expose people who want to pursue a career in shoe manufacturing and say, ‘here are the materials, here are the resources you need’ because that will ultimately help retailers, fashion brands and other businesses because your employees are going to learn how to do it right. When they come to work for you, they won’t make any mistakes. Brands could then say, “We give you the opportunity, it’s up to you to decide how far you want to go. “
He also believes this exposure should occur at a younger age.
“Brands should have awareness programs for high school or even pre-high school students that say, ‘Hey, you can make shoes for a living, you can be fashionable for a living.’ You have to expose them to this experience so that they know, ”he said.
But the work is not done there.
Once he has worked for a company, Idrobo would like to see the development of internal platforms that enable self-expression, something that allows employees to arm themselves with the tools and materials necessary for continued success.
“Companies should give employees a platform to have a voice, a space and time to work on projects, a space to be able to creatively express themselves and share their point of view,” Idrobo said. “And there should be a library that makes information available showing how far someone has come to create an idea.”