For his fall ’17 show, held Feb. 20 at the Old Selfridges hotel, Moralioglu narrated a personal story on cultural exchange: He imagined a rousing meeting between his English great-grandmother and his Turkish great-grandmother near the Syrian border. The result was a collection packed with romantic English roses and opulent prints inspired by Ottoman tapestries.
After collaborating with Nicholas Kirkwood for several seasons, Moralioglu — who has placed a greater focus on footwear in recent months — bowed his first standalone shoe line for spring ’16.
This time around, the designer translated the Ottoman references that informed the ready-to-wear collection with platform sandals wrapped in rich devoré fabrics and flat, printed satin loafers. Meanwhile, romantic floral dresses featured lace-up sandals and boots in the same print.
While the footwear element is still in its infancy, the decision to bring his shoe production in-house has long been a part of Moralioglu’s vision. “I have a tendency to create total looks,” he said. “I’ll design the coat that will go with the dress. It’s less about working on individual pieces and more about a head-to-toe look.”
The addition of shoes is also giving the designer an opportunity to reaffirm his red-carpet presence. Moralioglu counts British influencers Kate Middleton and Alexa Chung among his fans, as well as Hollywood stars such as Kate Bosworth and Keira Knightley.
“It’s always been a reactive process for us: Someone will need something, and we provide it,” said Moralioglu. “What’s wonderful is to be a designer and dress extraordinarily strong, intelligent women from different backgrounds.”
His move into footwear has also helped lure a younger customer who is much more interested in buying designer accessories as opposed to ready-to-wear.
“People are interested in the shoes alone, and they wear them in their own way,” he said. “I think it’s wonderful when you see something you’ve created exist independently and not as part of an outfit.”
Just like the ready-to-wear, Erdem shoes stand out for their exquisite fabrics. “I used a jacquard that was woven in England, and it was a loom from Norfolk that was set up almost 200 years ago,” Moralioglu said. “I love the idea of using these wonderful woven fabrics and mixing them in with hand-embroidered leathers and creating something that will feel very special.”
The luxurious, recognizable fabrics that define the brand’s footwear have drawn an impressive list of buyers to the new offerings, including existing wholesale partners Dover Street Market, Mytheresa.com, Colette, Browns and Matches Fashion.
“I love how Erdem is extending his signature silk prints and materials into a footwear range,” said Ida Petersson, Browns’ non-apparel buying manager. “The collection is immediately recognizable, and we love that it works so well from a visual merchandising perspective. For spring ’17, I was particularly excited about the flatform wedge sandal — not only is the shape perfect, [but] the silk print and lacing also work so well together for spring.”
As Moralioglu extends his world to encompass accessories, he is banking more heavily on e-commerce to cater to the brand’s digitally savvy consumer.
“That fear of buying something expensive online is diminished,” the designer noted. “We’re all becoming so much more used to doing everything digitally — so our website’s re-platforming is our No. 1 news.”
Despite the precious qualities of the materials, Moralioglu said he aims to make his shoes wearable, with pointed-toe flats, slippers, block heels and platform sandals among the key styles.
“I love the idea that someone can actually function and live in the shoe, and that’s important that you can absorb them into your life and wear them every day,” he explained. “There’s something quite unsettling when you see someone struggling to walk in shoes.”
While the designer wants to incorporate more heel heights across the collection, he is most interested in creating flats that can be worn for informal and formal occasions: “The flat feels very interesting and modern to me. I love the idea that you can wear something that’s very casual but wear it in a very formal way.”