Consider, if you will, bowling shoes. You’re probably wondering why in the world we would ask you to do such a thing, right? Well, that’s exactly why the company behind Bowlmor Lanes launched a national contest earlier this year calling on aspiring designers and bowling fans to redesign the iconic footwear.
That open call from Bowlero Corp., Bowlmor’s parent company, has been narrowed down to five finalists who are vying for the grand prize of $2,500 cash and the chance to have their redesigned bowling shoes produced and distributed to nearly 100 Bowlero and Bowlmor locations across the country next year.
The competing designs will face a panel of celebrity judges at the flagship Bowlmor Times Square on Aug. 7 at an event hosted by actress and HQ Trivia host Sarah Pribis.
Among the five finalists who hail from all over the U.S. is Sam Riley, a 21-year-old New Hampshire native who currently lives in Brooklyn as he studies fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Riley mainly focuses on footwear, and entered the bowling shoes contest at the behest of his department chairperson, Sarah Mullins. He looked to the atmosphere at Bowlero and Bowlmor Lanes for inspiration on his design, which he calls “The Illusion Shoe.”
“Basically I tried to study the environment of Bowlero, where things are super-fun and interactive and a little bit modern,” he said. “When you put on the shoes, and put your feet side-by-side, it creates the Bowlero logo. I was just taking the wearer into consideration a lot; it’s a young millennial, it’s a really fun thing to post on social media.”
The color of Riley’s bowling shoes submission is fairly brand-specific, using the blue and black found in Bowlero’s logo with a touch of white “for some contrast,” he added. “They have a lot of neon lights inside, so I thought that’d be a good way to make it glow.”
If his bowling shoes design is chosen as the grand-prize winner, “it would be such a great opportunity to get something I actually designed produced,” Riley said. “I’ve not had much experience in the industry yet, so I think this would be an amazing way to put myself out there.”
Down the line, Riley hopes to one day be the head designer of an American brand’s accessories collection. But until then, he’ll keep rocking his favorite pair of shoes, a bronze metallic pair of studded Stella McCartneys.
“They’re crazy,” he said with a laugh.