How My Loafers Turned Disco

Sometimes, something makes so much sense you wonder why no one had thought of it before….

Disco Loafers Betabrand Blog lede

One of the things I like about having a blog that’s my own voice is that I can shout out some of the amazing brands I like.  In filmmaking, we are always “Greeking” brand names to hide their trademarked logos; and even referencing them in dialogue can be dicey.  One of my favorite clothing brands of all time has to be the San Francisco based Betabrand.  They feature a wide range of innovative, stylish, and often times funny designs, all right up my alley, and they are famous for developing a disco ball fabric called Disconium.

The Discolab started with the silver Disco Pants (for me anyways), and over the last few years Betabrand has expanded it’s Disco line to add many more styles like the Disco Tank Top, and Disco Track Shorts, and more colors: Gold, Purple, and Black.

David Kupferberg in Betabrand Disco Pants at Burning Man 2013

Burning Man 2013

 An exciting thing Betabrand does is accept submissions for their Think Tank as a way to expand their line, and allow theirs fans to vote on designs for potential upcoming products.  Which brings me to why we are here, my submission to the Think Tank, the Disco Loafers.

My recent 33rd birthday coincided with a 20% off sale at Betabrand, and knowing that I will be going to Burning Man this year with my girlfriend even though we were initially shut out of tickets, and its cold on Playa at night, I sprung for the Black Disco Tuxedo.  I also picked up the silver Disco Bowtie, and silver Disco Vest to round out the outfit.  The only thing missing (besides the Disco Tuxedo shirt, Disco Tophat, and Disco Cane) were some badass Disconium shoes.  What better shoe to tear up the dance floor than a high performance loafer?  The mother of invention spoke to me, and she told me to make the Disco Loafers…

Another favorite brand of mine, for shoes, is Globe.  I’ve been wearing white Globe loafers for many years since back in my NYC days, and I had two old pairs that I swore to my girlfriend I was saving for a good reason.  Well I’m glad I did.
Initially I had planned to make two pairs of Disco Loafers with different panels of Disconium on each making two unique pairs of shoes.  After working with the shoes a while, it was clear that the eldest pair was on its last leg, and not worth the effort.  I ended up using it to make the pattern, but I will get to that.

Disco Loafers spray painting betabrand

I spray painted both sets of shoes silver, making sure to get the soles of the shoes thoroughly.  After they dried, and I contemplated how I would make the pattern.  The older pair of loafers was falling apart, so I decided to go with it, and take them apart.  In this way I was able to trace the pieces I wanted to cover with Disconium very easily.

Betabrand Disco Loafers pattern 1

Disco loafers before sewing

I had a pattern.  It was a double pattern for two shoes, so I chose what I thought was the best one, and made two copies.  It was almost painful to do, but I cut a piece of Disconium the size of the pattern (about 9in x 14in).  I cut out the pieces from the pattern, and laid them on the back of the Disconium backwards.

Sewing Disco Loafers

 I pinned one of the side panels onto the disco fabric.  After cutting it out, I ran into two problems, the Disconium stretches when you try to cut it, causing uneven cuts, and the pins leave permanent holes in the Disconium.  My solution, after thinking on it for a while, was to affix the pattern pieces on with heavy-duty clear packing tape.


 It worked!  The tape held the fabric together, controlled the stretching, and allowed for a clean cut.  Also, no pins meant no holes.



 I had my pieces cut out, 6 in all, the top from and two side panels of each shoe.  The pieces were pretty close to the right size, slightly larger, but that was a good thing.


 I attached the Disconium pieces with hot glue.  There was some ridging, but I pushed down the disco fabric with the now laminated pattern pieces.  They looked good, but there was something missing.


I trimmed down the fabric over the top front panels with some small scissors.  This left some exposed seams.  Then it dawned on me, puff paint.  I used metallic silver 3D fabric paint, aka puffy paint, and created a piping around all the Disconium pieces hiding the seams, and adding a stylish, old school touch.  …and Voila!  Disco Loafers were born.

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 All photos shot with my iPhone, except for the one from Burning Man shot on a Canon G-15.


 Disconium Quick Tips:
1.  Don’t use pins in Disconium, the holes remain when pins are removed.
2.  Attach clear packing tape to the black side of Disconium to make straight cuts.
Disconium is thin & stretchy.
The packing tape holds the fabric together for a cleaner cut.


David Kupferberg

David Kupferberg

David Kupferberg is a Model Citizen filmmaker, instant film alternative art photographer, light painter, and mixed media artist based out of Maui.He’s on a mission to bring the Disco to the jungle…

Check out his blog:
David Kupferberg

Latest posts by David Kupferberg (see all)

David Kupferberg is a Model Citizen filmmaker, instant film alternative art photographer, light painter, and mixed media artist based out of Maui. He’s on a mission to bring the Disco to the jungle… Check out his blog:

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