Yweekend (China) Interview
May-2008: Interview about the many different shoe lacing methods and their uses, the history and motivation behind the website and the types of questions that I get asked.
- Interviewed for: Yweekend newspaper, Beijing, China
- Interviewed by: Issac Feng
- Interviewed via: E-mail
- Interviewed on: 16-May-2008
Issac: There're 34 different ways of lacing shoes on your website now, how and where did you collect these methods?
IAN: The web site has 34 different lacing methods so far, and my book, “Laces”, has 50 methods! Some of these are traditional methods that I already knew about. Some I have found in my research in libraries and on the Internet. Some I have seen on the street. Some have been sent to me by web site visitors. Some I have simply invented, either from my own experiments or in response to a request from a web site visitor.
Issac: Which is the one you saw on the street?
IAN: The method I saw most on the street is what I called “Display Shoe Lacing”. It's a method of lacing such that the loose ends finish on the inside of the shoe. Most shoe shops lace their display shoes this way so that they look less messy.
Issac: Which is the one you invented from your own experiments?
IAN: The most popular method that I invented myself is called “Lattice Lacing”. It forms a neat woven lattice that looks really interesting, especially when done with wide laces.
Issac: Which is the one you invented from a request from a web site visitor?
IAN: A couple of web site visitors asked for a method that would create either a five pointed or six pointed star. I came up with “Pentagram Lacing” and “Hexagram Lacing”, followed by an even more complicated “Star Lacing”. I don't yet have these on my web site, but they are in my book.
Issac: Recommend 5 methods to our readers! And tell us why you recommend them.
IAN: Here's five lacing methods that are handy for everyone to know:
1. Over Under Lacing. This is a good all-round performer, and my personal favorite. It looks slightly different, is faster to tighten and loosen, and because it has less friction, it causes less wear and tear on the shoelaces.
2. Straight (Bar) Lacing. A neat, distinctive lacing, plus it reduces the pressure-points across the sensitive top part of the foot. Many runners use this lacing to avoid causing foot injuries.
3. Army Lacing. The armies of several countries recommend this method for combat boots because it allows the tough sides of the boot to flex more easily. This method also has the distinction of using the least amount of lace, which makes it helpful if your laces are too short.
4. Lattice Lacing. If you want your shoes to be noticed, this is one of the more decorative methods, without being too difficult to tighten and loosen. Viewers of my site have voted Lattice Lacing as the top ranked lacing method.
5. Zipper Lacing. If you ever do skating (either ice skating or roller skating), you'll realise how important it is to get the lacing nice and tight. This method keeps the bottom sections tight as you work your way up the shoe.
Issac: Where did you get the latest method which is called “Train Track” Lacing?
IAN: Train Track Lacing was sent to me several different times and with several different names by several different people, each of whom said that they had invented it themselves.
Issac: Since when you've been collecting all these shoelace related things?
IAN: I probably really started collecting shoelace information when I first added my “Ian Knot” to my web site back in May 2000. At first, it was only about shoelace knots, then later I began adding shoe lacing methods and all sorts of other information.
Issac: Pls tell us more about how did the idea of shoelace website come out? You've favored it since very young? Or you think shoelace is a very important to the shoes?
IAN: I never really thought about creating a shoelace web site. It only really came about because people liked what I added, probably because there was a real shortage of shoelace information on the Internet. Because people liked it, I kept adding to it.
Like many people, I wasn't really interested in shoelaces when I was young. Once I invented the “Ian Knot”, it became a lot more fun to tie my shoes!
Issac: Pls tell us three questions that you've been asked most in your email, and what are you answers then?
IAN: Usually when I get asked a question many times, I create a page on the site that answers that question. This stops people from asking that question, but then they think of other questions!
One of the first questions I was asked repeatedly was how to lace shoes straight across. I therefore added “Straight Bar Lacing”. Similarly, I was often asked how to lace in a checkerboard pattern. To answer this, I added “Checkerboard Lacing”.
The question I now get asked most often is where to buy certain shoelaces. I'm sure that people would LOVE me to have an online store, but because I live in Australia, the postage could cost more than the shoelaces!
Finally, many people e-mail with details of a child with learning difficulties or a physical handicap that makes it difficult for them to tie their shoelaces. I usually recommend that they try the “Ian Knot”. This is not because I am biased towards my own knot, and it's also not because it is the world's fastest shoelace knot. There are three reasons why I recommend the “Ian Knot”:
Firstly, the knot has fewer steps than the normal shoelace knot, making it easier to memorize.
Secondly, it's also more symmetrical, so both hands can do almost the same thing rather than favoring left-handed or right-handed people.
Thirdly, the child knows that if they DO learn the knot, they will end up being faster than their friends instead of slower. This is a great incentive!
Issac: Regarding shoelace, what's the most impressive question you've been asked in your email? What is your answer?
IAN: Probably the most difficult question is: “Who invented shoelaces?”. This is very difficult to answer because shoelaces have been around for thousands of years. “Ötzi”, a primitive man that was found buried in ice, and who lived over 5,000 years ago, wore primitive leather shoes laced with lime bark string.
Issac: What kinds of shoes do you usually wear? Which way of tying shoelace do you use most (or prefer)?
IAN: Mostly I wear sneakers, but I also have one or two pairs of dress shoes. Most of my sneakers are laced with “Over Under Lacing”, which is a very efficient method but is not very decorative. Some of my sneakers are laced with decorative methods, usually something new that I'm experimenting with and haven't yet named.
As for the shoelace knot, I almost always use my “Ian Knot”, but if I'm going to be doing some serious hiking or climbing, I use my “Ian's Secure Shoelace Knot”.
Issac: Have you ever cooperated with any shoes manufacturer such as Nike, adidas? If so, could you give us more details about you cooperation?
IAN: I haven't done any collaborations. It would be interesting! At the very least, I'd love to get the manufacturers to supply shoelaces that are not too long and that are not too slippery, both of which are real problems nowadays.
Issac: What do you think about “Shoelace culture”? What role does shoelace play in a pair of shoes? What does shoelace bring to a pair of shoes?
IAN: Shoelaces play a huge part in the look of a shoe, and hence play an equally huge part in shoelace culture. Some sneaker collectors are adamant that shoes should remain laced the way that they were designed. Others, like me, believe that the shoelaces are the best way for a person to individualize their shoes. Even an ordinary pair of shoes can be made to look dramatically different by changing the laces or by using a different lacing method.
There are also some very practical considerations, especially for running shoes, such as using shoelaces and lacing methods that minimize pressure points or reduce heel slippage.
Issac: Do you know any shoes designers well? What do they think of the relationship between “shoes and shoelaces”? and, What are their favorite tying methods?
IAN: I'm sorry but I don't know any shoe designers!
(No details of when or where the article was published.)