How One Designer 3-D Printed a Shoe for Grimes and Elon Musk’s Baby

·3 min read
<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Rombaut</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Rombaut

What do you get as a present for a baby like X Æ A-12, aka the four-month-old son of Grimes and Elon Musk? A pacifier seems a bit tame, and a bib is a snooze for the child made by a man who wants to colonize Mars and a woman who can dance with a Valkyrie sword. While the gift giving might be a confusing task, Mats Rombaut, founder of the label Rombaut, may have cracked the code: a pair of baby shoes.

The Paris-based designer, who creates zero waste–minded vegan shoes that come in cool colors and without granola crunch, created itty-bitty shoes for the child in conjunction with 3-D-printing footwear company Zellerfeld. The pair has a futuristic tinge: The lilliputian shoes sport a chunky sole and textured upper with a piece of Velcro to fasten, with the name X Æ A-XII stamped across them. They are so tiny that they can fit in the palm of a hand.

The gift felt natural for Rombaut, who has long admired Grimes and Musk even before they had gotten together. “I have been really a fan of each [of them], so it was both worlds that were merging when they were having a baby,” says Rombaut over the phone from Paris. “Since they announced her pregnancy, I was dreaming of making a shoe for the baby, because it is the representation of the future and hope.” Plus Grimes was already a fan of Rombaut’s push-the-limits sustainable footwear creations—last year the singer purchased an outré pair of his cowboy sneakers and boots (crafted with apple leather) after discovering him on Instagram.

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Rombaut</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Rombaut

While creating X Æ A-12’s shoes, Rombaut wanted to go zero-waste, a longtime philosophy of his label. “We wanted to do something that is a closed-loop system that doesn’t pollute. We thought about 3-D printing,” the designer explains. Rombaut teamed up with Zellerfeld, a Brooklyn-based tech startup that not only prints components to shoes but whole shoes in one fell swoop. Rombaut’s and Zellerfeld’s sustainable mindsets merge: Both companies are focused on producing zero-waste footwear, and Zellerfeld’s technology perfects the process, utilizing 100 percent recyclable polymer and no stitching or glue.

“Ten years ago I said, ‘In the future people will print their own shoes,’ and it’s super exciting to live in the future right now!” says Rombaut. X Æ A-12’s shoes were a realization of this prediction and a profound moment for the designer, who envisions a more eco-future.

As for the look, Rombaut was inspired by both his own designs, specifically his fall 2021 Drone sandal with an alien-type sole and a nylon upper that is reminiscent of a puffer coat. He also took one of Musk’s creations, the dystopian, chunk-tastic, Troned-out Tesla Cybertruck, as inspiration for the shoe’s upper. “I love the whole ethos behind Tesla, and this design speaks to me the most so far. I love the angular and triangular shapes,” says Rombaut. “We couldn’t go as radical because the shape inside needs to hug the foot and be comfy.” And we are sure little X’s feet will be just fine and, of course, very stylish in these kicks.

<cite class="credit">Photo: Courtesy of Rombaut</cite>
Photo: Courtesy of Rombaut

Originally Appeared on Vogue