3 Questions for Barbara Briones

Barbara Briones’ easygoing nature is reflected in the designer’s approach to her eponymous footwear brand.

“This started as a small project in Santiago,” said Briones, who designed footwear and accessories for Ferragamo and Mulberry before bowing her own Santiago, Chile-based label in 2010 and opening a flagship store, also in Santiago. “Our goal is to continue to make beautiful shoes with good quality and keep growing with the same identity and values of the brand.”

The label, which consists of handmade leather shoes, the majority of which retail for $400 to $500, is also picking up steam in the U.S. “We are working on taking the brand abroad,” said Briones, who divides her time between Chile and New York.

The designer added that her footwear is available at Anthropologie, Assembly New York and Albertine, as well as a small number of independent boutiques. “Our goal is to expand and take on some new stores.”
For fall ’12, Briones also teamed up with American designer Mandy Coon for a capsule collection. The three styles of black leather boots and wedges, a departure from Briones’ usually multitextured, colorful offerings, will retail for $600 to $800 at high-end boutiques starting next month.

“I really like Mandy Coon’s sense of style, and we [translated that aesthetic] into the shoes, ” Briones said. She added that she plans to collaborate with Coon again in future seasons. “Even though our styles can be a bit different, we were really able to combine ideas, which led to a mix between both of our aesthetics, and we are very pleased with the results.”

Here, Briones discusses staying optimistic in the face of economic challenges, going back to her roots for inspiration and keeping it simple for spring.

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to growing your namesake brand?
The biggest challenge for us for a small brand is to continue growing without compromising quality, which is our main goal when it comes to shoes. It is hard to see where the market is right now, [because it is] so volatile and buyers are also afraid of investing in new upcoming designers, but I’m confident in our product, and we have a lot to offer.

Where do you go for design inspiration?
Today, it is so easy to get inspired by what you see on the Internet, on the streets. The world has become so global. My favorite destination is South America, where I am from. I feel inspired every time I go there, and there is always something that catches my eye.

What are some footwear trends on the horizon for spring ’13?
The season is supposed to have an optimistic flair, which translates into luminous and colorful elements in a very subtle way, with details such as transparencies and metallic sparkle, combined with luxurious simplicity.

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