Neiman Marcus’ Ken Downing On His Go-To Shoe Styles & Most Sentimental Pair

Neiman Marcus’ fashion director talks sentimental Guccis, go-to styles and high school fashion follies.

Number of pairs: “There are easily 30 pairs of shoes in my closet, not including a few Chelsea boots tucked away at my weekend lake house.”

Favorite brands: “Saint Laurent, Prada, Gucci and … that’s about it!”

Trustiest style: “Boots. I only wear Chelsea boots.”

Closet organization: “I keep my shoes with my ready-to-wear. It’s organized by color, and from fashion to classic.”

Biggest fashion mistake: “I have no shoe or fashion regrets. I buy what I love and I love what I wear. Life is too short to regret.”

Gucci Chelsea Boots
Chelsea boots from Gucci.
CREDIT: Giovanni Giannoni.

Oldest pair: “Ironically, they’re my only pair of proper shoes: Manolo Blahnik suede loafers from the late 1990s — the first pair of men’s shoes he designed.”

Daring territory: “I’ll try anything! The question is, will I wear them continually? I spend my life in Chelsea boots, and my weekends in flip-flops (including in the winter).”

Favorite trend: “I love how the sneaker has broken down all fashion barriers, bringing casual cool to sartorial style and giving a downtown cool to casual dressing. It’s fashion’s great equalizer.”

Most sentimental pair: “I own an amazing pair of cowboy boots, custom-made in red, white and blue from a Gucci run­-way collection designed by Tom Ford. They were inspired by Hawaiian quilts and intertwined with a Western theme. [In the show], they were worn with a ruffle-front linen tuxedo shirt and white bell-bottoms with a red Hawaiian quilt pattern. I still own the complete look. Some day, it can become part of a Ken Downing retrospective.”

Fashion flashback: “I will never forget my senior year in high school. I spent the entire year in clogs. I don’t think my feet ever forgave me for that.”

Winter go-to: “My Saint Laurent rocker boots. They have a pointed toe and wrap-buckle straps. They add immediate cool to everything I pair them with.”

Shoe-shopping spot: “My favorite place to buy shoes is Neiman Marcus, of course. But I have to admit I am often tempted to buy at my sister store, Bergdorf Goodman. I like to keep it in the family.”

Choicest Collabs: “My favorite collaboration is the Raf Simons x Adidas sneaker collection. It’s the only collaboration that will get a sneaker on my feet.”

Raf Simons x Adidas
Raf Simons x Adidas sneakers.
CREDIT: Courtesy of brand.

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