Chooka, a Kent-based boot brand, will brighten your step (and keep you dry) on even the rainiest of Northwest days. Eager to learn more about the brand, available at shopchooka.com and at nordstrom.com, 425 caught up with Chooka designer, Kate Wright.
Q: How long has the company been established, and how did the concept come about?
Wright: Chooka started in 2002 as a sheepskin boot brand and evolved into women’s rubber boots.
Q: Chooka has so many great styles. Aside from the design options, what makes Chooka’s rainproof boots unique?
Wright: Along with the collection’s elevated, trend-driven designs are high-quality features and benefits; our rubber boots are made with a high natural rubber content, which results in a lightweight and smooth finish. Our new collection offers a modern, trim fit, as well as a wide fit option, which is not commonly found in traditional rubber boots. It’s also worth noting that every boot in the line includes removable memory foam insoles.
Q: Tell us about your design experience. Where do you turn for inspiration when creating your designs?
Wright: I try to take in as much as I can from as many sources as I can. I travel, shop, follow social media, browse a lot of publications, and attend trade shows. After a while, it kind of works like osmosis and influences my own designs. Collaboration plays a big role, too. I’ve got a talented design director and fellow designers to bounce ideas around with.
Q: Over the course of your career, you’ve designed a variety of different products, from bedding, to furniture, to dinnerware, and garden items. How has this helped you in your design experience at Chooka?
Wright: It has helped me to be really objective about whatever I’m designing. They’re all [objects that] benefit from the same universal design conventions like satisfying proportions, inviting materials, and modern colors. And the thing is, I love it all! The gratification I get from seeing my products out in the world, in a store, on a person, or even in a sample box on my desk, never gets old. There is a childlike excitement I feel when the idea in my head becomes a fully realized object.
Q: I understand that no matter the product you’re creating, there are two important ideas you’re sure to remember: form and function. Can you elaborate?
Wright: Form following function is a design principle most commonly associated with 20th-century modernist architecture and industrial design, but it’s fundamental and timeless with regard to all product design.
Q: Tell us about Chooka’s new fall line of boots. Do you have any favorites?
Wright: I love our new City Solid boots for their classic silhouette and casual touches of leather. They are great not-so-basic basics. I’m excited to introduce the Versa collection, which is an adjustable, wide-calf option in a tall boot. It’s got the same great styling of our standard fit boots, but has a long gusset at the back, which is both useful and stylish. I’m also partial to our Rain Duck collection, offered in black, red, and olive. They’re inspired by the traditional duck boot, but they’re made of all rubber, which adds a playful twist.
Q: How can Chooka fans care for their boots and keep them looking new?
Wright: We recommend using a damp, warm cloth to wash boots with a mild liquid dish soap. Mild soaps won’t break down the silicone coating on the boots. Additionally, a silicone rubber conditioner can be applied and can be found at shoe stores and some hardware stores. Air dry all boots and rain gear, and store your rain boots in a dry place, away from direct sunlight, as they will eventually break down and discolor if left in direct sunlight for extended periods of time.