Clae Founder Sung Choi Returns to Shoe Brand as Creative Director

Southern California-based footwear brand Clae has welcomed back its founder Sung Choi.

Choi, who left the company in 2017, has returned to the shoe brand as creative director. He rejoins the company from Sergio Tacchini, where he served as creative director since October 2020.

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Prior to Sergio Tacchini, Choi was the creative director and director of footwear design at Studio Southpaw, a multi-disciplinary design studio focused on footwear design and creative direction with clients including K-Swiss, Huf Worldwide, DC Shoes and Clae.

Choi originally served as the founder and creative director at Clae footwear from 2001 to 2017. Before starting Clae, he was the director of footwear design at Lakai Footwear from 2001 to 2004 and worked as a footwear designer at DC Shoes from 1997 to 2001. Choi started his career as a partner and designer at PNB Nation from 1991 to 1995.

Sung Choi, Clae, footwear, creative director, designer, shoe designer
Sung Choi, Clae, footwear, creative director, designer, shoe designer

New York-bred and Los Angeles-based, Choi has been at the forefront of brands such as Braindead, Supreme, Stussy, Union, DC Shoes, DKNY and more.

He is recognized for defining the identity of the brand and developing heritage products that are still in the lineup today. In addition to creative direction, design direction, footwear design, and brand strategy, clients have called upon Choi’s wealth of knowledge and experience for services ranging from collaborations, art direction, and identity to category expansion.

In a statement on Tuesday, Choi recognized that the footwear landscape has “significantly changed” since he left Clae in 2017.

“There seems to be major fatigue with the hyped-up sneaker world, and people are looking for more understated, comfortable premium shoes that can be versatile from day to night, work to play, and can be dressed up or dressed down to fit their varied lifestyles,” Choi said. “I launched Clae in 2001 due to a similar growing weariness of the sneaker world, and I’m excited to meet the demands and challenges of today’s customer.”

Jim Bartholet, CEO of Clae, added that Choi is “one of a kind” and is “happy” to welcome him back to the brand. “He’s able to translate ideas and concepts into products and storytelling that resonates globally in a style that is uniquely his,” Bartholet said. “I’m happy to welcome Sung back to the Clae family and am excited for the future of the brand.”

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