Meet the Up-and-Coming Shoe Designers Changing the Game in 2019

Building a brand in fashion’s current content-drenched climate is hard work. For designers, establishing a product-focused business often goes hand-in-hand with developing and maintaining a public persona — birthing a whole new marketing strategy around the “designer as influencer.”

But since sales are still ultimately the goal, brands are also paying close attention to the ever-shifting balance of direct-to-consumer versus traditional wholesale — and it’s not one size fits all.

Here, 19 designers on the rise show FN how they’re making moves in the industry right now.

Midnight 00

Midnight 00, Ada Kokosar
Midnight 00’s Ada Kokosar.
CREDIT: Iulia Mattei

FOUNDER: Ada Kokosar

LAUNCHED: 2018

BASE: Milan

BACKGROUND: The stylist and street style maven turned shoe designer has swiftly captivated the fashion world with her signature ruffled pumps and mules, complete with “party proof” wraps and waterproof fabrics. This year a pair of lavender ruffled mules with a kitten heel even found its way into the Costume Institute’s “Camp” exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.

MADE IN: Italy, by hand. Almost every single component is sourced there, and premium fabrics include Italian tulle, silk duchesse and an innovative fabric patented by Ratti SRL, which is crushproof, dirt proof and waterproof.

DISTRIBUTION: Matches Fashion, Level Shoes, Harrods, Browns, Mytheresa, Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées, Lane Crawford, On Pedder and Luisa Via Roma. Rainbowwave handles sales and distribution, which is focused on the U.K., China and the Middle East.

MAJOR BREAK: “The first was when I posted a photo of the Shell Shoe on my Instagram; it blew up and was reposted 250 times,” said Kokosar. “At the time, we hadn’t even discussed a marketing strategy. Up to that point, none of the retailers who carried us had actually bought that particular model, but that style, in polka-dot tulle, has since become our signature style. The second breakout moment was when Rihanna’s stylist, Tom van Dorpe, pulled some of our shoes to be used for her Fenty Savage show last year in New York. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming when I saw Bella Hadid and other top models wearing my shoes on the catwalk.”

EARLY ADOPTERS: “The first person who encouraged me to trust myself and follow my vision was Natalie Kingham, fashion buying director of Matches Fashion. Alberto Oliveros [formerly of Level Shoes and now at Harrods/Kurt Geiger] was also extremely supportive from the moment we met. It’s because of them that we are where we are now.”

BIGGEST MOMENTS OF 2019: “This has been a year for consolidation and establishing stronger engagement with our customer.”

NEW CHALLENGES: “We see every day as a challenge. All areas of the business are equally important and crucial.”

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 31.5K on Instagram @midnight_zerozero

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Midnight 00’s Felina boot.
CREDIT: Courtesy Midnight 00

Paris Texas

Paris Texas, Annamaria Brivio, sisters, Margherita
Paris Texas designer Annamaria Brivio (R) with her sister Margherita.
CREDIT: Courtesy Paris Texas

FOUNDER: Annamaria Brivio

LAUNCHED: 2015

BASE: Italy

BACKGROUND: Brivio runs the 10-year-old Baltimora Studio showroom in Milan, as well as Norrgatan, a boutique with three locations in the Milanese suburb of Monza that stocks buzzy labels like Amina Muaddi and Alessandra Rich.

BUSINESS STRATEGY: Brivio created Paris Texas when, as a buyer, she noticed a gap in the market for day-to-night footwear. “We found a lack in our brand mix and, in general, in the market,” said Brivio. “There were a lot of beautiful shoes but it was very hard to find shoes for day life.” She enlisted her younger sister, Margherita, to help with Baltimora and Norrgatan business operations while she developed the Paris Texas design.

MADE IN: Italy’s Le Marche, the region where Tod’s and Santoni also produce their footwear.

DISTRIBUTION: Bergdorf Goodman picked up the brand for fall ’19. It is also carried by Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Elyse Walker, Intermix and Kirna Zabête. Moda Operandi held one of its most successful footwear trunk shows with the brand.

MAJOR BREAK: A discovery by Instagram’s Eva Chen in the summer of 2018 helped to kick off a round of press buzz. The brand’s fall ’19 preview during Paris Fashion Week in February and March garnered even more attention from the U.S.

SPOTTED ON: Emily Ratajkowski, whose 2018 appearance in a pair of python-printed boots helped solidify the brand as a major player in fall ’19’s boot trends.

NEW CHALLENGES: “Last year, our production more than tripled, so the challenge has been to keep up with production, [especially] our international clients and big accounts.”

TOP STYLES: Statement knee boots, especially in animal prints, but Brivio also created a mule that’s done each season in eye-catching colors and textures.

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 35.6K on Instagram @paristexas_it

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Paris Texas croc-embossed knee boot.
CREDIT: Courtesy Paris Texas

Staud

Sarah Staudinger
Sarah Staudinger co-founder of Staud.
CREDIT: Simone Lezzi

CO-FOUNDERS: Sarah Staudinger and George Augusto

LAUNCHED: 2015

BASE: Los Angeles

MADE IN: Much of the brand’s ready-to-wear and accessories are made in factories near the company’s L.A. headquarters, but the shoes, which launched for spring ’19, are made in Portugal.

BACKGROUND: The former fashion director of women’s label Reformation, Staudinger met August, a creative entrepreneur, when she moved back to L.A. after studying at the Parsons School of Design and working briefly in fashion editorial in New York. “There was never this grand plan, said Augusto. “Each step came out of necessity and out of an aesthetic we related to.”

INSPIRATION: “My falling in love with fashion was during the ’90’s, when I saw [my mom] walking around in her kitten heels,” said Staudinger.

DISTRIBUTION: More than 100 retailers worldwide, with an almost equal mix of wholesale and direct-to-consumer through shop-in-shops like the current pop-up at Tenet in East Hampton, New York.

NEW CHALLENGES: A brick-and-mortar shop, likely to open in New York. “Today, we want balance,” said Augusto. “We want a healthy retail component. We want a healthy direct-to-consumer component.”

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 266K on Instagram @staud.clothing

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Staud’s Gita sandals.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Netaporter

Wandler

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Wandler designer Elza Wandler.
CREDIT: Courtesy Wandler

FOUNDER: Elza Wandler

LAUNCHED: 2017

BASE: Amsterdam

BACKGROUND: Wandler started with a keenly priced handbag label and expanded into footwear this summer, launching with a U.S. store exclusive and window takeover this spring at Bergdorf Goodman.

MADE IN: Italy, where shoes are handmade using locally sourced materials

DISTRIBUTION: 155 points of sale worldwide, including Barneys, Moda Operandi, The Webster, Matchesfashion.com, Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa and Browns. This year, the company added Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Ssense.

BIGGEST MOMENTS OF 2019: “Adding footwear to our offering has created lots of excitement,” said Wandler. “It has helped solidify our presence at current stockists while sustainably scaling our wholesale accounts globally.”

NEW CHALLENGES: “Adding a new category after launching just a little over a year ago. With our bags, we do six collections a year and the same goes for our shoes, so we’ve been spending even more time in Italy. It’s the best way to learn Italian.”

TOP STYLE: “Our square-toe Isa sandal has definitely been a moment of its own. We’re introducing the Isa boot for fall ’19.”

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 55K on Instagram @wandler

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Wandler zebra-print Bente mules.
CREDIT: Courtesy Wandler

Nodaleto

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Nodaleto’s Olivier Leone and Julia Toledano (seated).
CREDIT: Courtesy Nodaleto

CO-FOUNDERS: Julia Toledano and Olivier Leone

LAUNCHED: February 2019

BASE: Paris

BACKGROUND: The daughter of LVMH chairman and CEO Sidney Toledano, Julia initially studied law and fashion journalism before making the leap to design at Central Saint Martins. She and business partner Leone debuted Nodaleto’s inaugural collection at Paris Fashion Week.

MADE IN: Venice, Italy, by a family-run manufacturer

DISTRIBUTION: 14 online and brick-and-mortar outlets will offer the brand for the inaugural fall ’19 season, including Le Bon Marché in Paris and Luisa Via Roma and 24 Sèvres, plus specialty boutiques in Beirut, Dubai and Beijing. The U.S. is the biggest push for Nodaleto, which has been picked up by Dover Street Market, Jeffrey New York and The Webster. Barneys New York will also carry the line online and in store.

MAJOR BREAK: Fictional Instagram model Lil Miquela was recently depicted in a pair of the brand’s white patent leather Mary Janes.

TOP STYLES: The Bulla Corta platform boot, with a retro-inspired geometric block heel, and the Western Bulla ankle boots, featuring gemstone-encrusted spurs on the heels. “I’m obsessed with stones and their meanings, especially amber, which gives power and energy to the wearer,” said Toledano.

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 10.1K on Instagram @nodaleto

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Nodaleto’s Bulla Corta patent boot.
CREDIT: Courtesy Nodaleto

Les Petits Joueurs

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Mariasole (L) and Andrea Cecchi of Les Petits Joueurs.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Les Petits Joueurs

CO-FOUNDERS: Mariasole and Andrea Cecchi

LAUNCHED: in 2013 with handbags; footwear was added for spring ’19.

BASE: Florence, Italy

MADE IN: “We can say we are 100 percent made in Florence,” said Andrea, who grew up in the Tuscan city with his sister. “Florence is something that you can feel even when you land, the artisan philosophy of the city. All the bags and shoes are made by artisans in Florence. The leather, the components, even the packaging is all made here. I [previously] worked in fashion but not in production, so Mariasole and I have learned step-by-step all of the tricks. Living and staying close to the suppliers and artisans helps us to understand this world.”

SHOE PHILOSOPHY: “I am inspired by great footwear designers throughout history, such as Charles Jourdan and Maud Frizon,” said Mariasole. “I am also inspired by geometric shapes and forms — that’s how the square and circle shoe family was born.”

DISTRIBUTION: “We opened new accounts in footwear [this year] at On Pedder, Level Shoes, Tryano, Harrods, Al Tayer, Sanahunt, Galeries Lafayette and La Rinascente,” said Mariasole. “And we keep a strong online presence with Luisa Via Roma, selling almost everything of our collection.”

TOP STYLES: The square and circle motif, accented in crystals and done in both high heels and kitten mules.

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 114K on Instagram @lespetitsjoueurs

UP NEXT: Increasing direct sales by 10% over the next few years by growing digital. “Digital permits you to have a strong image,” said Andrea. “Everyone goes through digital to discover a brand, to discover a style. Buyers, consumers, journalists, everyone discovers through digital.”

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Les Petits Joueurs circle and square heels.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Les Petits Joueurs

GCDS

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GCDS creative director Giuliano Calza.
CREDIT: Courtesy GCDS

CO-FOUNDERS: Giuliano and Giordano Calza

LAUNCHED: 2015

BASE: Milan

MADE IN: Italy. Everything is made in there, with 15 different suppliers specializing in different stages of the production process.

BRAND PHILOSOPHY: The Italian apparel and shoe label’s acronym stands for “God Can’t Destroy Streetwear.”

DISTRIBUTION: More than 400 retailers worldwide. Its strongest market is Italy, though significant expansion is planned into Asia, specifically China, Korea and Japan. This summer, the brand is opening its fourth and fifth stores, respectively, in Hong Kong and London. And in September, GCDS is teaming up with Kith to launch a summer pop-up tour across the U.S.

COLLABORATION: The Pikachu boots in partnership with Pokémon have been one of the year’s biggest hits.

MAJOR BREAK: Kim Kardashian wore a full python GCDS look plus boots two days before the spring ’19 show. “I woke up to an Instagram tag from her and my heart was beating out the window,” said Giuliano.

BIGGEST MOMENTS OF 2019: “We’re at 85% sell-through and have made strategic investments like buying our Milan headquarters, opening new stores worldwide and creating new sneaker molds,” said Giuliano.

NEW CHALLENGES: “Owning a company and being the gatekeeper for so many daily decisions has been an ever-growing and never-ending challenge, but we always do our best to make sure the team stays inspired and happy.”

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 320K on Instagram @gcdswear

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Feather heels backstage at GCDS for fall ’19.
CREDIT: Courtesy GCDS

LoQ

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LoQ founders Keren Longkumer (L) and Valerie Quant.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Loq

CO-FOUNDERS: Keren Longkumer and Valerie Quant

LAUNCHED: 2015

BASE: Los Angeles

BACKGROUND: Longkumer and Quant met at a footwear course at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising, in Los Angeles. After Quant clocked five years working in fast fashion and Longkumer got in continued education at Arsutoria, the duo reunited to create their line.

MADE IN: Spain

DISTRIBUTION: More than 80 wholesale accounts globally, including Net-a-Porter, Nordstrom and Galeries Lafayette. The brand just opened its first store in L.A.’s Glassell Park in July. “We wanted to create a place for people to experience our brand in person,” said Quant.

MAJOR BREAK: When Solange Knowles wore the brand in the “Cranes in the Sky” music video in 2016.

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 132K on Instagram @loq

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LoQ’s Isla sandals with acrylic heels.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Loq

Zyne

zyne-shoes-emerging-talent
Zyne co-founders Laura Pujol (R) and Zineb Britel.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Zyne

CO-FOUNDERS: Laura Pujol and Zineb Britel

LAUNCHED: 2016

BASE: Morocco

MADE IN: Morocco, by hand with specialty artisans.

NEW RETAILERS: Launching at Luisa Via Roma, Matches Fashion, Maison de Mode and The Modist

BIGGEST MOMENT OF 2019: “Winning the Fashion Trust Arabia in March in the footwear category,” said Pujol. “It was a unique occasion to meet fashion industry leaders from all around the world, and we’ve benefited from their mentoring and feedback. It allowed us to open a pop-up at Diane von Furstenberg’s store in New York, which was a privileged experience that helped us develop our visibility in the U.S. We’ve also been able to open a bigger cooperative for our artisans in Casablanca, Morocco, giving them and ourselves the means to take our social project to the next level. In addition, we launched with Instagram @shop.”

NEW CHALLENGES: “Growing our production and training our artisans,” said Pujol. “We began with five, and over three years, we now have 80. We don’t want mass production. We want a small atelier and suppliers because we want to contribute to the local community in Morocco. We have everything. We just have to play around and do our job to find the best quality.”

TOP STYLES: The Knot and Zenit

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 53.6K on Instagram @zyneofficial

UP NEXT: “Through a series of pop-up stores, we are aiming to develop increased awareness and customer knowledge. It would allow us to test out new styles and get direct feedback from those who are now at the center of our targeting process.”

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Zyne’s handmade raffia mules.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Zyne

By Far

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By Far’s Sabina Gyosheva (L), Denitsa Bumbarova and Valentina Bumbarova (R).
CREDIT: Courtesy of By Far

CO-FOUNDERS: Sabina Gyosheva, Denitsa Bumbarova and Valentina Bezuhanova

LAUNCHED: 2016

BASE: Bulgaria

DISTRIBUTION: “This year, we entered the U.S. department store market with a special launch at Bergdorf Goodman in New York,” said Gyosheva. Through 2019, the brand will also open at Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom.

BUSINESS STRATEGY: “It is evolving in the sense that we’re constantly adapting to the ever-changing environment. Adding an emotional experience to every aspect of By Far is a core goal for our team. Over the past year, we have experienced immense success, but one of the most exciting changes was our expansion into bags. We launched with Net-a-Porter in September and everything sold out within a week.”

NEW CHALLENGES: “By tripling our sales over the past year, the biggest challenge is adapting to the growth and maintaining the strong connection with our customers and followers,” said Gyosheva. “The biggest opportunity is entering the Asia-Pacific market. It’s enormous but very different and specific.”

TOP STYLES: The Tanya sandal and Sofia boot

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 245K on Instagram @byfar_official

UP NEXT: “We source our greatest inspiration from TV shows and movies. You often find us binge-watching ‘Friends’ and ‘Sex & the City,’ obsessing over their cool outfits. By Far is very much a non-trend-orientated brand; we concentrate on what we’re passionate about. Our vision for spring ’20 is the dancing girl.”

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By Far’s T-strap kitten heel.
CREDIT: Courtesy of By Far

Andrea Wazen

andrea-wazen-shoes-emerging-talent
Designer Andrea Wazen.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Andrea Wazen

FOUNDER: Andrea Wazen

LAUNCHED: 2013 with a boutique in Beirut. E-commerce debuted in December 2017.

BASE: Beirut and Paris

MADE IN: “All of our shoes are handmade and produced in Beirut,” said Wazen. “Through hard work, we are able to make good-quality shoes with great artisans. It’s not mass production. I import everything from Italy, and every shoe is made with finesse. I went through 15 factories before I found three of the best. Each provides a different product: One does Western boots; another makes pumps, flats and sandals; and one is for custom shoes for bridal and concerts.”

SHOE PHILOSOPHY: “The fact that I’m a woman from the Middle East as a shoe designer — it makes me different. The culture has a big impact on my designs. My shoes are classics. I like them to be eternal. I want you to buy a pair — and maybe the same pair in different colors. I don’t want my shoes to wear the person, which is very important. The fact that they are made in my hometown, there’s so much soul in them. But they do have a twist. We follow trends without making the shoes too loud.”

SPOTTED ON: Olivia Culpo, Emily Ratajkowski, Ashley Graham and Jennifer Lopez. “J-Lo is what gave my brand this boom. The celebrity impact has been insane. A lot of my orders are coming from the U.S. now and that wasn’t my clientele at first. There’s a waiting list for the shoes the celebs have worn. I believe 1,000% in influencer marketing. I can see how directly impactful it is.”

TOP STYLES: The Gloria mule, Antigone platform and Denver pump

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 100K on Instagram @andreawazen

UP NEXT: “I’m working on our wholesale strategy to launch for spring ’20. I also want to target more celebrities. Plus, I’m focusing on potential pop-ups in the United States.”

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Andrea Wazen croc-embossed Gloria mule.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Andrea Wazen

Studio Amelia

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Studio Amelia founder Emily Amelia Inglis.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Studio Amelia

FOUNDER: Emily Amelia Inglis

LAUNCHED: May 2019

BASE: Sydney, Australia

BACKGROUND: A former digital brand strategist, Inglis recently relocated from London to Sydney while working on the brand’s launch from a spare room in her home. “I found that I was continually frustrated at the lack of options for a more elegant yet contemporary flat sandal — as well as one that was at a more agreeable price point, whilst not forgoing the quality,” Inglis said.

MADE IN: Mainland China and Hong Kong, with a manufacturer that also produces for brands like Nanushka. “Notably, managing this production process between Sydney, China and London can be tricky with differing time zones. Thank God for Whatsapp.”

DISTRIBUTION: After launching nine weeks ago with a Net-a-Porter drop, the brand has already been picked up by Moda Operandi, Browns and Level Shoes.

MAJOR BREAK: “Launching alongside the world’s most prestigious luxury retailers. I am incredibly blessed that they saw something in the collection — and the business as a whole — and reached out to me, even though I only had 30 followers at the time.”

NEW CHALLENGES: “I am lucky to say I had no issues with digital, web build, brand strategy, photography and styling because, thanks to my previous work, that is second nature to me. The challenges for me have been the most integral parts of my business: manufacturing and sales. I had zero former experience in these areas and heavily relied on Google and the good old approach of asking questions when you really couldn’t work it out.”

SIGNATURE STYLES: Minimal sandals

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 4.3K on Instagram @studioamelia

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Studio Amelia’s minimal sandals.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Studio Amelia

Tiannia Barnes

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Designer Tiannia Barnes.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Tiannia Barnes

FOUNDER: Tiannia Barnes

LAUNCHED: 2014

BASE: New York

MADE IN: Italy

BACKGROUND: A former IT program manager with an expertise in STEM, Barnes decided to take her passion for shoes to the next level by launching a luxury footwear business of her own.

DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer through online and at regional pop ups. “The bulk of my business comes from my site but also my pop-up shops in New York City and Atlanta,” said Barnes, who is also planning a pop-up later this summer in the Hamptons.

SPOTTED ON: The collection has attracted notable women, such as former first lady Michelle Obama and Miss USA 2019 Cheslie Kryst.

MAJOR BREAK: “Bevy Smith wearing my shoes at the Met Gala this year was definitely one of the most memorable moments so far. I also had my own show at Paris Fashion Week in 2017,” said Barnes.

NEXT UP: Launching the largest collection to date for fall ’19, with 12 styles.

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 9.6K on Instagram @tianniabarnes

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Tiannia Barnes Jackie fringed suede sandal.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Tiannia Barnes

Labucq

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Labucq designer Lauren Bucquet.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Labucq

FOUNDER: Lauren Bucquet

LAUNCHED: 2018

BASE: Los Angeles

MADE IN: Italy

BACKGROUND: Bucquet was working as a ready-to-wear designer for Rag & Bone when the company decided to try out shoes as a new category. She fell in love with the art of making shoes and decided to launch a business of her own.

DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer, online and through the brand’s L.A. showroom. “Despite being based in L.A., the majority of our online orders are going to New York City,” said Bucquet. “We also get a lot of traffic from social.”

MAJOR BREAK: “Being covered in Vogue and The New York Times, as well as hosting a brunch with 30 tastemakers in our L.A. studio for the launch of our spring ’19 collection.”

UP NEXT: Labucq will launch a pop-up for the fall ’19 collection in New York in October.

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 8.7K on Instagram @labucq

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Labucq Chan sandal in patent leather.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Labucq

Martinez

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Martinez designer Julien Martinez.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Martinez

FOUNDER: Julien Martinez

LAUNCHED: 2017

BASE: Paris

MADE IN: Alicante, Spain

BACKGROUND: The Anglo-Spanish-French designer creates artisanal looks featuring handwoven uppers that are done by grandmothers working from home using traditional techniques.

DISTRIBUTION: Net-a-Porter had a three-season online exclusive; brick-and-mortar retailers include Saks Fifth Avenue, Level Shoes, Tomorrowland, Harvey Nichols in London and Galeries Lafayette in Paris. And this year the brand added Shopbop, Luisa Via Roma and My Theresa. According to Martinez, the U.S. market comprises 41% of sales, while Europe makes up 39%. The online to brick-and-mortar divide is 65% to 35%.

COLLABORATION: Martinez created the fall ’18 runway boots for Emilio de la Morena.

MAJOR BREAK: “In our first year, we were selected by Net-a-Porter to be part of their Vanguard mentoring program, which chooses brands for their unique aesthetic and potential for growth,” said Martinez.

BIGGEST MOMENTS OF 2019: “Opening our online distribution for fall has been an important step in our growth,” said Martinez. “For 2020, sales will reach the million-dollar mark.”

NEW CHALLENGES: “Financing our rapid growth while remaining independent and retaining internal control of the brand.”

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 3.5K on Instagram @martinez

UP NEXT: Bags will launch in September and an e-shop is slated for 2020.

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Martinez woven-leather slingbacks.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Martinez

Manu Atelier

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Manu Atelier co-founders Beste and Merve Manastir.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Manu Atelier

CO-FOUNDERS: Beste and Merve Manastir

LAUNCHED: 2014 as a bag brand; it expanded into shoes in summer 2019.

BASE: Istanbul

MADE IN: Istanbul for the bags; Venice, Italy, for the shoes

DISTRIBUTION: The company has exclusives with Selfridges and Lane Crawford, and works with Moda Operandi, The Iconic Australia and Luisa Via Roma. Its strongest market is Europe.

MAJOR BREAK: “Meeting our global sales agent Luisa de Paula,” said Merve Manastir. “She moved Manu to the international arena. The support of Eva Chen has also improved our global reach. Likewise, we were over the moon when Sarah Jessica Parker wore one of our bags last year. Another ‘we’ve made it’ moment was when the Duchess of Cambridge carried our Micro Bold bag in March.”

BIGGEST MOMENTS OF 2019: “Launching shoes has helped us make our market position even stronger,” said Merve. “We’ve worked hard on it for a long time, so it’s a great feeling. We also launched our new website at the beginning of this year, which increased our e-commerce significantly.”

NEW CHALLENGES: “We produce our shoes in Italy, so this is something totally new for us because we need to familiarize ourselves with the system and customs regulations. But we are good at dealing with challenges.”

TOP STYLES: Directional Mary Janes and the best-selling Manu “duck boot”

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 128K on Instagram @manu_atelier

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Manu Atelier lace-up duck boots.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Manu Atelier

Andrea Mondin

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Designer Andrea Mondin.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Andrea Mondin

FOUNDER: Andrea Mondin

LAUNCHED: 2016

BASE: Italy

BACKGROUND: A former Versace shoe designer, Mondin won the accessories prize for his eponymous label at Vogue Italia’s “Who’s on Next?” in 2017.

MADE IN: Marche, Italy, with fabrics sourced from Italy, France and England.

MAJOR BREAK: “At the beginning of the year, we were selected by Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana to exhibit during Fashion Week, which gave us more visibility and contacts with buyers, press and influential fashion players worldwide,” said Mondin.

DISTRIBUTION: The U.K., Italy, Middle East and Africa. “We are expanding our distribution network all over the world, seeing particular traction in Europe and the Middle East, but the U.S. is also growing.” Its newest retailer is Matchesfashion.com, which signed on for fall ’19.

BIGGEST MOMENTS OF 2019: “Consolidating clients, increasing visibility and brand awareness to attract new stores.”

NEW CHALLENGES: “Bringing together all the elements of the brand for consistency and a stronger identity.”

TOP STYLE: The “veil” sandal

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 22K on Instagram @andreamondin_official

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Andrea Mondin’s veil pump.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Andrea Mondin

Exotics by Cedrick

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Designer Cedrick McDonald.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Cedrick McDonald

FOUNDER: Cedrick McDonald

LAUNCHED: 2016

BASE: Tampa, Florida

MADE IN: Italy

BACKGROUND: A hairstylist by trade and a self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur, McDonald started sketching shoes and posting to Facebook. The response by his family and friends was overwhelming and he decided to launch a shoe line of his own.

BUSINESS STRATEGY: McDonald now holds a signature patent for his shoes, which he acquired in 2017. “Like Louboutin has the red bottoms, I have snakeskin bottoms,” he said. The animal print is silk screened, with Swarovski crystals.

DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer and through select retail boutiques in Florida

SPOTTED ON: Rising performer Inas X has been seen in the designer’s over-the-top, over-the-knee boots.

MAJOR BREAK: “Attending the Golden Globes last year,” said McDonald. “It was a real networking opportunity.” The designer also had a presentation at New York Fashion Week in February and is currently featured on a billboard in Times Square.

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 27.5K on Instagram @snakebottoms

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Exotics by Cedrick embroidered Donatella pump.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Exotics by Cedrick

Amrose Paris

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Amrose Paris designer Océane Castanet.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amrose Paris

FOUNDER: Océane Castanet

LAUNCHED: 2018

BASE: Paris

BACKGROUND: A mathematics graduate and former investment banker, Castanet and her business partner brother, Victor, launched their whimsical sneaker label 18 months ago via a crowdfunding campaign.

MADE IN: The sneakers are hand crocheted and embroidered by women in Kurdistan, who are trained and mentored by the brand. The shoes are then assembled in Portugal.

DISTRIBUTION: Through its e-commerce site and concept stores worldwide, in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, the U.S., Europe, Australia and China. This year, the company added retailers Le Bon Marché in Paris, Banner Milan, SKP Beijing, Joyce and IT Hong Kong. Its biggest markets are Asia, Italy and the Middle East, with increasing interest from the U.S. The brand is focused on finding the right partner to break into the market stateside.

COLLABORATIONS: Mira Mikati and Chinese influencer Zuo An Xiao Majo

MAJOR BREAK: Colette founder Sarah Andelman latched on to the brand and made the introduction with Mira Mikati three months after Amrose Paris launched.

BIGGEST MOMENTS OF 2019: “It’s been a very exciting year with our collaborations and pop-ups at Le Bon Marché and with Mira Mikati in London,” said Castanet. “We have just done a roadshow around Asia and a trunk show at the new concept store Matriark in Sag Harbor in the Hamptons. Its curated selection is created by only women.”

NEW CHALLENGES: Time. “Everything is going so quickly, but we are so happy and thankful. It’s the best dream we could have imagined.”

SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 11.5K on Instagram @amroseparis

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Amrose Paris Love Forever sneakers.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amrose Paris

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