Quick Studies: Footwear’s Up & Comers

Rebecca Minkoff

➥ The look: “The collection is for the confident, stylish woman who wants to be noticed for the magic in the details.”

➥ Why shoes? “A shoe collection was always on my mind, but we needed to wait for the perfect time. We’ve had such success over the past five years with our handbags and ready-to-wear that launching the shoe line was the natural next step for the brand. There’s more to come. Onward and upward.”

➥ Why now? “I felt there was a void in the market for great shoes that fit with my brand essence: classic with a twist. I decided to debut the collection at my spring ’11 presentation because it was such a special moment for me to be showing at the tents for the first time during New York Fashion Week.”

➥ Biggest challenge so far: “We wanted the collection to feel as natural as the bags and ready-to-wear. Of course, designing shoes is quite different from designing bags and ready-to-wear, so many different elements are involved.”

➥ Most looking forward to: “The shoe collection is targeted at first times: a first date, a first party, a first love. A woman’s life is full of firsts, and I’m looking forward to being a part her special moments.”

➥ Where to shop: Intermix; Shoebox New York; Wink, Texas; Footcandy, California; Saks.com; Bloomingdales.com; Shopbop.com; Rebeccaminkoff.com

➥ The retail buzz: “We’re excited to be selling Rebecca Minkoff’s shoes on Saks.com. Our customers have always loved Rebecca’s handbags with their emphasis on easy silhouettes and downtown hardware, and her new shoe collection translates those elements into easy, feminine styles that are on-trend for the season.” — Yumi Shin, VP & DMM, Saks.com

Jason Wu

➥ The look: “All the pieces are handcrafted in Italy and are of the highest quality, both in construction and detailing. It was important to me that each piece was made as beautiful inside as out. My goal was to create accessories from the most beautiful materials, using the finest craftsmanship and techniques — designs that were uniquely Jason Wu.”

➥Why shoes? “I always had a goal to introduce a shoe collection. Accessories were always the natural next step to complete my world. It means I am further defining the Jason Wu woman and adding another exciting element to the brand that will continue to build my clients’ wardrobes.”

➥Why now? “I had been working with a factory in Florence for quite some time, developing the collection and learning the craft of shoemaking. With our increasing national and international presence, and with the ready-to-wear collection available in more than 130 stores worldwide, it seemed like the perfect time to introduce a new element to the collection via an accessories range.”

➥ Biggest challenge so far: “To perfect and learn all the technical aspects of creating a beautiful yet structurally sound shoe.”

➥ Most looking forward to: “Continuing to evolve the collection. It is just the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the world of Jason Wu.”

➥ Where to shop: Jeffrey and Kirna Zabête, New York; Browns, London; Tender, Birmingham, Ala.; Wynn/Outfit, Las Vegas; Ikram, Chicago; A Propos, Cologne, Germany; The Room, Toronto; Montaigne Market, Paris 

➥ The retail buzz: “Jason Wu’s shoes are luxurious and are a super-comfortable fit. The shoes are modern with a classic appeal, making them the perfect accessory for his ready-to-wear collection.” — Ikram Goldman, owner, Ikram, Chicago

Tuleste Market

➥ The look: “It was important for us to borrow design details from our jewelry collection, with special elements such as mini rosette zipper pulls, metal plating and, of course, a unique Lucite heel with pearls and gunmetal balls from our signature necklaces. The fit is of the utmost importance, and we designed this collection for the woman who wears her shoes to work, running errands and straight through the night.”

➥ Why shoes? “It has always been our goal to expand on the ‘Market’ of Tuleste Market. Initially, the plan was to launch handbags before footwear, [though those] will now launch for fall ’11. However, we met an amazing manufacturing contact for footwear and everything moved very quickly from our first meeting.”

➥ Why now? “We wanted to launch the collection as soon as possible, and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Initially, we thought we might have to wait for fall ’11, but we were able to get everything rolling and samples completed for the spring market. We’re already excited about the fall ’11 collection, which is much more extensive.”

➥ Biggest challenge so far: “Editing down a number of designs to make sure we had a strong, cohesive collection for the first season. And ensuring we could keep the price-point accessible, with comfort as the key.”

➥ Most looking forward to: “It’s exciting to design and produce more products that women get to touch, wear and feel good in. We feel this will broaden our customer base, as not every woman wears costume jewelry, but every woman wears shoes.”

➥ Where to shop:
Shopbop.com; Albertine, New York; Tenet 91, Southampton, N.Y.; Bootleg, Austin, Texas; Tulestemarket.com

➥ The retail buzz:
“The girls have been able to include their iconic design — which is so identifiably Tuleste Market — in their shoe design. In addition, they offer impeccable quality, great color sensibility and appreciation of material mix. We can’t wait to launch the collection.” — Denny Cohen, senior shoe buyer, Shopbop.com

Yigal Azrouël

➥ The look: “Architectural, graphic, modern, minimal and fresh. The craftsmanship and precise attention to detail is evident in every style from the collection. The high quality and the fact that every pair is handmade makes you feel like you are walking away with something special. The construction, technique and shape were all very important elements to me when launching my shoe collection.”

➥ Why shoes? “I have always had a desire to launch my own shoe collection. I have done collaborations with Walter Steiger and Manolo Blahnik in the past, but timing is everything, and I felt the spring ’11 season was the right time for me. It’s an opportunity to propel my design aesthetic and brand into new market segments, opening up a new client base, as well as satisfying the growing needs of existing fans.”

➥ Why now? “It’s about showing that the shoes are a creative extension of my vision. For the spring ’11 season, it’s all about the concept of layering and experimenting with different proportions and dimensions.”

➥ Biggest challenge so far: “Learning the technicality of it and how to translate my designs into an actual three-dimensional shoe. Making shoes at this level is such an incredible craft. It was — and is — a learning experience to know the whole process.”

➥ Most looking forward to: “I designed the shoes with the entire look in mind, making sure they are functional and consistent with my design aesthetic. I want women who are wearing these shoes to feel modern, strong and confident.”

➥ Where to shop: Yigal Azrouël, New York; Gretta Luxe and Viola Lovely, Boston; L’Eclaireur, Paris; Via Spiga 2 and La Vetrina di Beryl, Milan; Thecorner.com; Yigal-azrouel.com

➥ The retail buzz: “Yigal Azrouël is consistently one of our bestselling lines. His clothes work for both the stylish city girl and cool suburban mom because they have that undefinable ‘it’ factor, yet are accessible for real life. We are so thrilled Yigal has taken his wearable-cool aesthetic in the footwear direction.” — Kelly Leisman, buyer, Gretta Luxe, Boston

Leifsdottir

➥ The look: “Unique, feminine and with a modern edge. There is a high level of detail and passion for craftsmanship. The shoe designs are organic and natural extensions of the brand, which is a designer-level experience at a more approachable price point.”

➥ Why shoes?
“Leifsdottir was conceived from the very beginning to become a total lifestyle brand incorporating multiple categories. [Offering shoes] allows us to bring the Leifsdottir brand experience to our customer in a more complete way.”

➥ Why now? “I had been obsessively working on the footwear concepts and DNA for a long time, as well as putting the team together. For spring ’11, we felt ready as a team and brand to venture into the new category.”

➥ Biggest challenge so far: “Learning a new, highly technical craft was an exciting challenge. Designing a well-fitting, beautiful shoe requires time and patience. We were lucky to find just the right team of experts to work with, who were able to bring the high level of detail and craftsmanship and feminine modern aesthetic of the brand into fruition.”

➥ Most looking forward to: “We worked very hard to apply Leifsdottir design principles to a new category, with quality craftsmanship that exudes modern, cool, sophisticated style. We can’t wait to see the customer reaction.”

➥ Where to shop:
Bloomingdale’s and Saks, New York; Neiman Marcus, Dallas and Irving, Texas; Nordstrom, Seattle; Angelique, Los Angeles; Moxie, Massachusetts; Shoe Inn, Connecticut and New Jersey; The Shoe Box, New York; Tomorrowland, Tokyo; Piaff, Beirut

➥ The retail buzz: “Leifsdottir has consistently delivered fresh, exciting new fashion and now customers will be able to round out their wardrobes with footwear from the label as well.” — Scott Meden, EVP of shoes, Nordstrom

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