For footwear brands, success is no longer in the hands of the wily retail buyer. Indeed, in this Instagram age, a new crop of can-do direct-to-consumer labels are banking on social media saavy to set them apart and offer shoes competitively priced to sell. One standout example is Josefinas, a Portugeuse label founded by Filipa Julio, an architect by trade who turned to her dance roots to create unique twists and turns on the classic ballet flat starting at $169 – from the blogger-beloved over the knee Twiggy boots to fur lined and velvet slipper styles. And if The Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine (a Josefinas fan) and the Miu Miu runway for spring ’16 was any indication, fashion’s ready for the return of en pointe shoes again.
Though Josefinas is named after Julio’s grandmother as a nod to honoring Portugal’s long history of footwear craftsmanship, the marketing approach is decidedly modern, with the brand’s healthy 18.2 thousand Instagram following factoring heavily. While courting celebrity endorsement is standard in the shoe world these days, she looked to unexpected partnerships, such as Gloria Steinem, who recently wore a limited edition style from the WfWI special collection. We caught up with Julio to learn more about her individual approach:
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Q: What was the inspiration behind your line?
“My inspiration comes from adventures – different places around the world and special moments. But essentially it comes from women because Josefinas is a lady-powered brand. Grace Kelly and Kate Middleton inspired our bridal line. Twiggy, the 1960s supermodel and icon, inspired our new high-knee ballet flats boots. Our B Side sneakers with faux fur accessories, are inspired by Thelma and Louise’s journey into a true friendship that helped them discover their true selves.”
Q: How has the popularity of the Twiggy boot affected your business?
“It’s been amazing. A lot of people are excited because they’re really new and different –and haven’t ever been seen before. We’ve transformed our classic black patent model into an elegant and high ballet flats boot, all handmade in genuine leather. I was inspired by Twiggy because she’s so unique and always stood out. I mean each woman’s uniqueness has to be embraced by her own self.”
Q: There are lots of ballet flat brands out there. What do you think makes Josefinas different?
“Each and every pair of Josefinas is handcrafted in Portugal. We believe to have mastered the perfect fit that only the hands of our shoemakers can bring to life. It has a simple design, but it is in fact more complex than what you see. Besides our belief in the art of craftsmanship, we believe in the power of women’s strength. We’re a brand made of women, for women.”
Q: What are your sights set next?
“My dream is to inspire the path of women all around the world. And I’m sure that it’s already happening, one step at a time.”
Click through the gallery to see more styles from Josefinas.