Jessica Taft Langdon, founder and designer of young brand The Palatines, likes to keep things simple. Her straightforward women’s footwear styles have been made by hand at a small, family-owned factory in Los Angeles for four seasons.
“One of the things I love about manufacturing in the U.S. is that the hand in the manufacturing of the shoes is a little different from that in China or Europe,” said Langdon. “Just by the fact that they are made here, the shoes have a slightly different look.”
Though the brand is fairly new, Langdon is no stranger to the shoe business. Over her 10-year career, she’s designed footwear for a number of fashion labels, from Proenza Schouler and Catherine Malandrino to Alexander Wang and everything in between.
For Langdon, finding a balance between aesthetics and the technical side of production is what led her to start her own brand. “I take inspiration from what can be done in production and what I see the technicians doing. Just watching them work, I get a lot of ideas,” she explained.
The designer moved to Los Angeles from New York at the end of 2011, but she didn’t go there with the intention of finding production facilities. Langdon simply stumbled on the local artisan industry through conversations with friends.
Still, the idea of manufacturing in the U.S. was always there. “Because I’ve been exposed to so many different kinds of production at previous jobs, I became interested while I was still in New York in whether making shoes in the U.S. was something that could be legitimately done on any kind of scale,” she said.
In addition to producing locally, Langdon has built her business mainly with retailers in California. For fall ’15, she plans to add more East Coast accounts.
The collection retails for $220 for her best-selling slide sandal to $435 for her block-heel ghillie sandal.