Cushnie et Ochs, the designer label known for sophisticated cocktail dressing, is expanding. The brand will launch its very first shoe collection on the runway during New York Fashion Week on Friday. And ahead of the big moment, the designers behind the company, Carlie Cushnie and Michelle Ochs, spoke with FN to discuss brand growth, the launch and what consumers can expect from the line.
Here’s what they had to say.
FN: Why did you want to venture into shoes?
Carlie Cushnie: “Shoes were something we always wanted to do. As women, we always have envisioned the whole look from head to toe as well as translating our DNA into shoes. We were really excited we could finally put this collection together and exemplify a different arm of our brand and really show our DNA in a different way.”
Michelle Ochs: “We’ve always thought about it from the beginning, it was just what we were limited by. With our investment two years ago that really gave us the ability to build a staff and explore new product categories, which we’ve been dying to do.”
FN: Are you excited to launch during NYFW?
CC: “It’s really exciting. We’ve been working with Christian Louboutin on the runway. But it’s been really exciting being able to curate the entire look this season. We put bags on the runway last season. So the whole entire look will be Cushnie et Ochs. It’s a really special moment.”
FN: How would you describe the footwear collection?
CC: “We wanted to create shoes that were sexy and sleek and that were comfortable. So often, that’s a hard thing to find as a woman. For us, we want to make sure, like our clothes, the fit is really good and that they are shoes you can wear all day or all night and it’s not torture to look good.”
MO: “We had the same approach as we did with handbags. We really wanted to do solidify the DNA of the brand and we explored those elements of what really makes it a Cushnie et Ochs piece. The shoes are made in Italy, ranging between $595 to $895. A lot of the design is seeing another side of us. We are so known for cocktail dressing, you will get the cocktail shoe, but it does gives us a much larger range. There are flats, mules, pumps and an embellished over-the-knee boot. Coming on the 10-year mark, we wanted women to be able to purchase these shoes and wear them with Cushnie et Ochs pieces they already own. It’s going to be a very new perspective for us, and pairing that with the clothes I think will really complete our vision for our accessories now.”
FN: What challenges did you face when it came to designing the shoes?
CC: “It was a learning curve. The schedule for shoes is so much earlier. And you really have to manage your creativity so you can get it to together on schedule.”
FN: Does your first collection focus on current trends?
MO: “We’ve been unique and women-centric in the idea that it’s always about fit for us, while also highlighting and celebrating the female body. It’s more about those core pillars: sexy, strong, architectural and that duality between fluidity and structure. Evolution is key, and we approach all of our designs with that in mind.”
FN: Approaching your 10-year anniversary, what has changed?
CC: “We always say Instagram didn’t exist when we started. The lessons we’ve learned over time and what we’ve brought along is having this consistency in terms of price point, our niche, our fit. We’ve been able to grow very organically. With that steady growth and lessons [we’ve learned], we are bringing that to accessories.”
The Cushnie et Ochs Spring 2018 Footwear Collection is developed and produced in Italy, in partnership with Peter Marcus Group, and will be available online and in stores Jan. 15.
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