On Tuesday, Nov. 29, Footwear News will host its 2016 Achievement Awards in New York, honoring the best and brightest in the industry, including Paul Andrew, the winner of the Designer of the Year. Read on to learn more about Andrew’s accomplishments.
Paul Andrew’s rise to the top has been fast and furious. Although he launched his namesake women’s footwear brand in 2012, the New York-based designer, 37, has become a red-carpet regular, expanded into the men’s market and scored a buzzy new role as footwear design director for Salvatore Ferragamo.
While many would stop there, Andrew is not ready for a break yet. “I feel like this is just the beginning,” said the native Brit, who resides in New York. “I have so much more work to do.”
Having risen through the ranks working for industry icons, Andrew can boast past mentors such as Narciso Rodriguez, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and the late Alexander McQueen. “When I graduated [from the Berkshire College of Art & Design], my first job was with McQueen in the late 1990s,” said Andrew. “He taught me so much about breaking boundaries. That’s something I always think about when I’m stuck in a rut.”
Andrew’s own work is far from ordinary. In a saturated market focused on what’s trendy, the designer has succeeded in finding — and sticking with — his own refined, ladylike aesthetic. His signatures include the Zenadia pump with scalloped topline and the architectural Chrysler heel.
“When I launched my brand, everything was about heavy platforms,” said Andrew. “There were no single-sole shoes on the market anywhere, so I took a major risk and went for it. Thankfully, it resonated.”
Retailers are drawn to his timeless look and wide variety of styles. “Paul is part of a new generation of inspired shoe designers who believes that every woman deserves to have a fashion moment without sacrificing comfort,” said Thalia Tserevegou, Net-a-Porter’s senior footwear buyer. “Our customers have embraced the simple elegance of his Rhea flat, and his sexy kitten heel has gained momentum.”
Celebrity stylists have also gravitated toward Andrew’s polished eye. His shoes have been worn by well-heeled stars such as Lupita Nyong’o, Emma Stone, Jessica Chastain and Kerry Washington.
“Paul’s shoes are a favorite among my clients,” said stylist Micaela Erlanger, whose roster includes Nyong’o, Meryl Streep and Michelle Dockery. “Every single style is beautifully designed and can punctuate a look.”
While red-carpet exposure has helped to spotlight his brand, Andrew prefers that the relationships evolve naturally. “I try to approach celebrity dressing in a more organic way than most,” he said. “The perfect example is Jessica Chastain, who bought a pair of my shoes at a store, wore them on the red carpet in Cannes and has worn the shoes many times since.”
Another organic source of growth for Andrew has been his foray into the men’s world. Debuted for fall ’16, the men’s collection features modernized dress shoes and sleek sneakers, which now sell exclusively at Barneys New York in the U.S. but are slowly expanding.
Come pre-fall, Andrew will write his next chapter, debuting his footwear collection for Ferragamo. “It’s been great to embark on this new challenge and to be entrusted with a fashion house that has been in business since 1927,” said Andrew. “Since Salvatore Ferragamo died, it has never had a named shoe designer until me. It’s an enormous honor.”
Meanwhile, Andrew also continues to focus on his own brand. “I don’t take a day off,” he said. “I want this brand to be around 50 years from now.”
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