Maria Cornejo On Why Comfortable Shoes Can Be Beautiful

New York-based designer Maria Cornejo has strict criteria for her shoes. “They have to feel as good as Birkenstocks. Otherwise I don’t want to wear them.”

Apparently she is not alone. The Chilean-born, British-educated founder of the Zero + Maria Cornejo label recently expanded her formerly tight footwear offering to a full-scale collection, which is carried at her own stores and Barneys New York, among others.

“I’m glad that people have caught on that comfort doesn’t have to be ugly. It’s no longer a bad word,” Cornejo said about her assortment of architectural low heels and supportive flats.

“We carry so much weight on our feet every day while standing. You have to have styles that are well balanced and ergonomically correct. Most female designers are very aware, because they have to wear the shoes and enjoy them,” said Cornejo.

Zero + Maria Cornejo fall 2016
A fall ’16 suede boot from Zero + Maria Cornejo.
CREDIT: Joshua Scott
Zero + Maria Cornejo fall 2016
A fall ’16 pump from Zero + Maria Cornejo.
CREDIT: Joshua Scott

The designer further admitted she would go to the ends of the earth in pursuit of worthy footwear. “One season, our shoes were not going to arrive in time so I sent someone to Italy to pick them up and bring them to New York,” she confessed.

Below are a few more things she is equally passionate about.

Post-runway show ritual:
“I sleep in till 8 a.m., go for a massage, mani-pedi, have tea in bed and check out the reviews online.”

Best stress-buster:
“I swear by tidying. After working weekends getting ready for the show, my house is a catastrophe. It’s very therapeutic to put your life in order after everything has been chaotic.”

Healthiest habit:
“I walk often from Brooklyn to my office on Bleecker Street. It takes me an hour.”

Go-to walking shoe:
“My Flo flats or low-heeled boots.”

Zero + Maria Cornejo shoe
The Flo style from Zero + Maria Cornejo.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand

Favorite hobby:
“I started knitting when I was 7 years old and it relaxes me. I’m making my husband an alpaca scarf right now. It’s more about the act of zoning out than being creative.”

Scent therapy:
“Anything by Byredo. Their scents are all gorgeous.”


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