Friends and business partners Shilpa Iyengar and Harmony Pilobello like to think of themselves a quick-change artists.
Both graduates of Parsons School of Design in New York, the two are readying to launch Alterre, a women’s footwear collection that allows customers to turn a single shoe style into five different looks by simply snapping off one upper design and snapping on another. The two are also the founders of New York-based Young Designers Collective, a custom design house that works with brands in the fashion industry.
According to Iyengar and Pilobello, who self-fianaced the business, with additional funds from an outside investor, based the brand’s name on term “alter ego” — a person’s secondary or alternative personality.
The upper designs are secured to the base of the shoe by a snap on the sole near the heel. Two silhouettes are currently available — a slide on a 1½-inch heel and a mule on a 2½-inch heel. Each is available in three colors — black suede, blush leather and gray leather, with one the five upper-strap designs, each available in two colors. Mixing and matching uppers and bottoms can create more than 65 combinations, said Pilobello.
According to Iyengar, first-time customers can order a starter kit, retailing for $180, that includes one base and two uppers. One color matches the base, with a second in blue. Additional bases are available for $125, with uppers retailing for $45 to $50 each.
The partners, who also co-designed the collection, had fun naming the styles. “Each is named after a woman we admire,” said Iyengar. They include Marilyn for Marilyn Monroe, Jackie for Jackie Kennedy and Tilda for Tilda Swinton. And, she added, each comes packed with a recipe for a cocktail — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic — that they believe represents each woman’s personality.
Initial orders for the debut resort collection can be placed on Sept. 15 at Alterreny.com, with deliveries shipping Nov. 30. Five percent of the proceeds will be donated to Restore NYC, a shelter for abused women. And by becoming a member of Alterre, customers receive free shipping and 15 percent off their next purchase. Shoppers will also receive a 10 percent discount on orders of additional uppers.