Meet the next footwear stars. Emerging designers were the focus of a May 24 panel at the FN CEO Summit, held in Miami. The talk, hosted by FN fashion director Mosha Lundström Halbert, featured rising talents such as Oscar Tiye’s Amina Muaddi, Paula Cademartori, and Malone Souliers’ Mary Alice Malone and Roy Luwolt.
The panel focused on topics such as launching a footwear line, finding its unique aesthetic and balancing both design- and business-minded skills.
The designers first touched on what ignited their ideas to launch a brand. Muaddi, who got her start working at fashion magazines, spoke about taking a while before find her true career passion. “Styling was great experience for me, but I didn’t feel fulfilled creatively,” she said. (Muaddi co-founded the label in 2013, but has since left her role as creative director).
Meanwhile, Malone — whose label is carried in retailers like Net-a-porter and Farfetch — attributes her current skill set to the internships she did while in school. “Design school does not teach you how to be a designer,” Malone said. “For me, understanding the whole process, from design to fittings to customer feedback, I learned that through internships.”
With a sea of new brands on the market, the design talents also spoke about finding their unique aesthetic and point of view.
“I debated that a lot. I found it absolutely overwhelming. There are so many people who are so successful. They have their signature, and how was I going to make mine? I didn’t look at a fashion magazine for years. I almost didn’t talk to anyone. I just went to school and made shoes. I shut myself off because I wanted that time without anyone’s input. I just wanted to make and make until my soul was in there. I wanted to make shoes that looked like someone’s soul had been part of that process,” Malone said.
Luwolt, who manages the business side of Malone Souliers, touched on the brand’s newly launched customization program. “It’s a position tool,” said Luwolt. “When we say we are a luxury firm, we can do the extra fit.”
As the brands finally found their footing, the designers were met with new set of hurdles.
Cademartori — who was recently acquired by OTB Group, which is also the parent company to Diesel — spoke of the challenges of evolving from a one-woman brand to a growing, full-time staff. She also touched on being a woman in the industry and how oftentimes it proves to be a challenge to be taken seriously.
“Because, unfortunately, to be a woman in Italy, they sometimes they don’t take you seriously,” Cademartori said. “That is something that is a thin line you need to fight and be tough to get things done.”
Speaking of lessons learned: Muaddi also spoke of her biggest wins and regrets, including finding the right business partners.
“There are so many challenges, but they are all worth it when you love what you do,” Muaddi said. “If I could change something, it would be having more business partners [when I started]. having the right partnership and the right business setting and structure is very important, because otherwise you’ll create something and find yourself in a position where you are unhappy or not in control of [your brand].”