“I’m building [my brand] slowly, so it lasts forever,” said designer Angela Scott of her high-end, handmade collection of oxfords, pumps and boots that launched for fall ’11. “I want to pace myself.”
Because the styles are made by hand in Italy and Asia (and soon Portugal), the line takes longer to produce than factory-made footwear, so Scott wants to ensure she can keep up with demand.
And the Dallas-based designer said she also is particularly conscious of not over-saturating the market. “I hate when I’m walking down the street and I see someone in the same shoes [as me],” she said. “[I don’t want to build a brand] that’s seen on everyone everywhere.”
Retailing for $480 to $900, The Office of Angela Scott is sold at select retailers in Boston; Los Angeles; Modena, Italy; and Tokyo. In New York, the label is available at Jeffrey and will be sold at Saks Fifth Avenue this fall.
To continue to grow her brand, Scott is looking for a showroom in Paris to expand her international reach and would like to make a men’s capsule collection for fall ’13. Here, the designer weighs in on handmade shoes, finding factories and why independent retailers are so important.
1. What are the greatest challenges of working with handmade product?
AS: Most footwear takes three months to develop, but for me it takes six months. The development time is a little bit longer, and there are naturally going to be imperfections. Actually, I don’t call them imperfections — I call them quirks. If someone is actually hand sewing each shoe, they are all going to be a little different. But I like that. I’d rather see good quality than a little bit of glue popping out. But with handmade shoes you also have more opportunities. When you’re working with bench-made factories, they want to explore their talents and abilities. It’s a lot smaller and more homegrown than you [might] think.
2. Why are you focusing on independent retailers?
AS: The smaller retailers are the heartbeat of this entire industry. The bigger doors that started blossoming, like H&M and instant fashion [stores], have taken away from where fashion really starts: boutiques. They curate and set the styles and the trends for the rest of us. It’s important to cultivate those relationships with them.
3. You went through 10 factories and found three that worked for your brand. Are you looking for any others?
AS: I’m hoping to create a relationship with a U.S. factory, one of the oldest factories around. They do only men’s shoes, but I approached them and said, “How fantastic would it be for you to do women’s Goodyear-welted shoes?” I think they’re excited and it could take a little bit of time, but I’m hoping by fall ’13 we could create a capsule collection that’s American-made. That’s important to me.