Any city dweller knows that finding the perfect pair of chic-but-walkable shoes is a nearly impossible feat. The balance of heel height (not arch-achingly flat, heaven forbid too high), fit (please, no stiff, blister-inducing sides) and pitch (nothing less than perfection) is difficult to attain. And the winners are quite often lacking in style, reduced to a clunky comfort fit that fails to hit the mark of either ugly-cool or elegant-chic.
It’s a challenge that even designers themselves cannot escape. That includes Heesung Choi, the founder of Seven All Around, a new footwear brand that debuted ahead of New York Fashion Week. Her resumé is painfully cool: After graduating from the Parsons School of Design, Choi spent the first eight years of her career at Rag & Bone (as one of the founding employees), where she worked on both women’s ready-to-wear and footwear collections (including the brand’s early collaboration with Manolo Blahnik). Most recently, she was head of design for Public School.
But in her spare time, the South Korean-born designer set out to create shoes for herself that would accommodate long hours of fittings and dinner with friends in New York, working remotely with her mother in Seoul to develop the shoes. “I found myself wearing just one pair of shoes, because they were the most comfortable,” says Choi. She started with a pair of sandals, the No. 7 (from $195), which has a hybrid flatform/wedge shape (“too flat and it feels weird to walk around in”) along with a wider toe strap and a satin elastic ankle strap sourced from Japan that holds the ankle and foot in place. “I had no problem walking around in these in the city,” she says. “I wore these sandals for four summers!”
Choi has since created two additional styles, which she debuted today (all three are now shoppable on her site): There is the No. 33 ($395), a platform loafer that has the same pitch as her sandal and an elegant, elongated toe box. And then there’s the sure-to-be bestseller, the No. 28 (from $425), a simple ankle boot with a 2.5-inch stacked heel, half-inch inner platform, roomy toe box, elastic ankle, built-in cork padding and sneakerlike cushioning — design details and measurements that all read like a recipe for ubiquitous success.