What Footwear Should the Obamas Wear?

The inauguration of Barack Obama as the nation’s 44th president will usher in a new era of politics and bring some fresh style to the White House. While Obama has been recognized for his clean, modern approach to dressing, eyes will now turn to the fashions of the First Lady and First Kids. To take the guesswork out of what the Obama family might opt for when it comes to their shoes, Footwear News asked designers from a range of American brands for their fashion projections. Here are their top picks.

“Whether dressed casually in Levis and a polo with Ray-Bans, or stepping out in a chic tailored suit, Obama always appears effortlessly pulled together. Using [Bass’] classic Weejun as inspiration, [we created a] genuine
moccasin construction, hand-sewn on the last and featuring a full-grain leather upper and outsole with a McAfee heel and the presidential seal stamped on its shank.”
Jim McCormick
President, Bass


“Florsheim sees the new president’s style as clean and classically modern. This stars-and-stripes shoe reflects his obvious patriotism in a classically modern interpretation. Obama’s campaign was about making a statement of change and hope while remembering the dreams of our founders. It seems fitting that his footwear should make a statement while based on a
classic silhouette.”
Keven Ringgold
VP of design, Florsheim

“We turned to our 1932 product catalog [for inspiration], the year FDR was elected to his first term. We think the similarities between FDR’s challenges then and Obama’s challenges today are compelling. For Mr. Obama, we selected model 66, a six-inch work boot appropriately named The Winner. Crafted in our finest Featherstone leather, it’s a black leather dress boot perfect for the hard work and long days he will face.”
Peter Engel
Director of marketing communications, Red Wing


“Obama’s style is understated and classic. Because Timberland is a brand with a strong New England aesthetic that’s more casual in nature, the design [centers] on the classic American hand-sewn moccasin. The comfortable upper construction [is enhanced] with a Timberland PRO anti-fatigue technology. The Goodyear construction [would] enable Obama to resole and repair his shoes at the [Maine] factory that [would make] them. This will extend the life of the shoe so that it never finds itself in a landfill.”
Chris Mondelli
Men’s design director, Timberland

“Obama’s style is lean, trim and elegant without affectation. I wanted to offer a clean, long-lined, very serviceable oxford that could take him from morning meetings to a state dinner. My one concession to detail is the prominent welt stitching. Just as strong as its foundation, a shoe is as sturdy as its sole. It seems appropriate and symbolic for the president to have a simple, yet elegant shoe, one that is strong, comfortable and durable and will stand the test of time.”
Adam Derrick
Creative director, To Boot New York


NEXT: Sketches for Michelle…


 “Cole Haan footwear with Nike Air technology will be an instant hit with Michelle Obama because it provides great style with exceptional benefits [that] will be apparent the very first day — Inauguration Day, when she will be on her feet for more than 18 hours. Inspired by our signature American classics, we designed a chic ballet flat, perfect for travel and work.”

James Seuss
CEO, Cole Haan

“When I think of Michelle Obama’s style, I immediately think of vibrant color and a modern edge. Though she can really wear anything — from a blouse with a large ruffle collar to a simple sheath — and make it her own, it is the clean, modern pieces that seem most signature. I decided to go a bit dressier [and] wanted to use color, because she can carry it off so well. My goal was for the design to be sophisticated, modern and a little bit sexy, too.”
Jessie Randall
President and creative director, Loeffler Randall

“I see Michelle dressed in new and special fashion. She needs to represent something unique. She definitely doesn’t need to showcase a luxe look. I’m not looking for a reincarnation of Jackie Kennedy — or of anyone else, for that matter. For sure, she should embody affordable fashion with a twist — fashion that American women can identify with during this extremely difficult economic period.”
Sam Edelman
CEO, Sam Edelman Shoes


“Michelle dresses in a graceful, yet modern way. She always appears demure and lady-like, but adds unexpected twists to keep it fresh and young, like bold prints or splashes of bright color. Accessorizing with unique pins highlights her preference for details. I would design a mid-heel d’orsay peep-toe with a decorative ornament for a black-tie event.”
Stuart Weitzman
Designer and CEO, Stuart Weitzman


NEXT: Sketches for Malia & Sasha…


“The flip-up, flip-down collar mirrors Malia’s life going into the White House — both open to public viewing, but with the option to ‘flip up’ and keep some things private if she chooses. The shoe features two sets of laces: black for her edgier, grownup side and white/magenta for her sweet ‘Daddy’s girl’ side.”
Kimora Lee Simmons
President and creative director, Baby Phat

“In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Sasha asked, ‘Mommy, when are we getting ice cream?’ Her big sister Malia joined in with, ‘We’re getting ice cream? Ice cream is my favorite food. I could eat ice cream forever.’ After reading that, I decided on a ‘Life Is Sweet’ theme. I chose a vulcanized construction for its current fashion popularity, as well as its enduring kid appeal. For little sister Sasha, I chose a sour-grape suede upper with sprinkles, which I believe suits her spunky personality and is age appropriate. Not to be confused with her big sis, Sasha’s name is spelled out in candy-barwrapper letters appliquéd on the outer quarter.”
Paula Hyde
VP of design, Nine West Kids


“This shoe was designed to be youthful and feminine, like Malia, but also signifies strength, unity and courage, which is what her family’s place in the White House represents. The mixture of colors is representative of the combining of cultures, the tiger tattoo symbolizes strength, while the dominant color — pink — plays up Malia’s girly side.”
Marvin Williams
Designer, Ed Hardy

“I noticed that Malia has a very refined sense of style for a young lady but she still looks fresh and young. She has a very fashion-forward look intertwined with a timeless sensibility. So I married those two styles by taking something classic, like a basic ballerina silhouette, and placing a design detail in an unconventional place to create a modern spin on a traditional piece.”
Angelo Estrada
Designer, Chinese Laundry

“Nina is a very strong dress resource, so we decided to focus on the dress category. We also did some research and found that in many photos, the Obama girls are wearing flats. It is still the current fashion, and we thought it would be the best type of style for them. Next year will be [their] first Christmas in the White House. They will need a pair of dazzling holiday shoes. For Sasha, we created a black patent fl at trimmed with satin ribbon and festive holiday ornaments.”
Ken Masiello
Design director, Nina Kids (sketch by Nina Kids designer Lana Klemeyer)



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