Man Repeller founder-turned-shoe designer Leandra Medine and Jimmy Choo creative director Sandra Choi sat down at Saks Fifth Avenue on Tuesday evening for an engaging conversation about fashion and leadership.
Saks Fifth Avenue fashion director Roopal Patel moderated the discussion, part of Saks’ “Fearless Women” Speaker Series, in front of a packed crowd.
Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Tips for navigating career and life pressures:
Leandra Medine: “Just the way you can talk yourself into an anxiety spiral, so too can you talk yourself out of it. Something we’ve been talking about a lot at Man Repeller is that everyone has a choice. In this current political environment, you can choose to see the grim and the bleak or you can choose optimism. Choosing optimism doesn’t necessitate blindness or tone-deafness. But it does require you to pursue joy every day.”
Sandra Choi: “The pressure can come with every single job, no matter who you are. Choose your battles. At the same time, if there’s something you believe in, push.”
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How to build a new brand:
LM: “[During this moment], I’ve found that women really are supporting each other. There’s enough business for all of us. Compliment brands who are doing it right and ask to pick their brains. Pick people who represent your core values and send them free [stuff].”
On the power of a high heel:
SC: “Heels give you instant confidence, whether you actually have it or not. They emotionally translate to power. A heel doesn’t need to be a stiletto. It can be thicker, chunkier.”
LM: “For me, heels represent that idea — fake it until you make it. After you make it, you can choose what you want to wear, and I guess that’s real power.”
On the lasting impact of “Sex and the City”:
SC: “We were part of TV culture. It’s interesting because we only appeared three times in the series, but we really resonated. Everyone relates to the power of the ‘I lost my Choo’ scene.” (In the 2000 season premiere of the show, Carrie ran out of her feathered Choos while chasing the Staten Island Ferry and shouted the famous line.)
On shoe trends that should to go away:
LM: “I would be hard-pressed to say something needs to go away. Two years ago, I might have said Crocs or Birkenstock, but now I find myself wanting to wear those things. Maybe not actual Crocs, but I’m one rubber bottom away.”
SC: “Huge platforms with skinny heels.”
On their personal shoe collections:
SC: “You should see the cupboard [full of my shoes] in my office. We got in there to look at everything we’ve done in the past. Everything is made in a 37, and that’s my size. I also have storage outside London just for shoes and bags. I might open a museum one day.”
LM: “I feel like I have a lot, but it’s probably just 150 or so. It’s amazing to think that I could wear a different pair of shoes every day for half a year. I ditch the ones that don’t bring me joy.”