FN’s most recent cover star, shoe designer Paul Andrew, attended the Accessories Council Summit, joining Dave Gilboa, co-founder of Warby Parker, and Jennifer Fisher of Jennifer Fisher Jewelry on a panel to discuss brand-building.
Andrew’s fast success continues to grow. In an exclusive cover story interview with FN, the designer said, “It feels like I’m going from fledgling designer to someone who is more known. I’m not an established brand by any stretch, but all of the sexy buzz isn’t the same as when I launched.”
During the panel, Andrew admitted that his success wouldn’t have been so speedy had he not had 15 years of experience, included work for Donna Karen, Diane von Furstenberg, Vera Wang, Calvin Klein and more. “I wasnt ready to launch my brand until I had that sort of experience,” he said.
Andrew added that in 2013, the market was so full of heavy platform shoes that he was able to find his niche with a more refined, elegant single-sole look. “I was very fortunate, and I still think the single-sole shoe is the shoe of the moment,” he said.
When asked what makes his brand distinctive, Andrew offered his use of special materials as one reason and the way his shoes are constructed as another. “I did a survey of 500 women internationally before I launched my brand to understand the perfect fit,” said Andrew. “Because shoes in general are built according to measurements that were established decades ago. Now, women are much more engaged in sport, so people’s feet have totally changed. My [shoes] are built more for the modern foot.”
Andrew added that pricing his shoes slightly lower than his competitors also gave him an edge. “When I started, no one know who I was, so I had to give them a reason to buy my shoe rather than a Manolo or a Louboutin.”
Now, many people know his name and brand, and top celebrities like Emmy Rossum continually step out in Paul Andrew pumps. Earlier in July, actress Hailee Steinfeld wore a pair of Paul Andrew Chrysler boots on stage during Taylor Swift’s 1989 tour.
“When a celebrity posts a photograph of herself in my shoes, it enhances the sales. It really, truly does,” he said.