Danse Lente founder and creative director Youngwon Kim made her debut for spring 2017 and has swiftly become known for her the bold, contemporary and competitively priced arm candy with their distinctive geometric silhouettes.
Kim who actually graduated in footwear design from London College of Fashion is now expanding her cult repertoire and is launching shoes for spring 2021. Today she also debuts her virtual spring 2021 showroom: virtual-showroom.danselente.
Nine styles range from slippers and mules to sandals and boots. Silhouettes draw inspiration from nature and organic shapes such as the quilted Zawn slipper she based on La Llareta, an intriguing bulbous plant that grows in Chile’s Atacama Desert.
Kim’s spring 2021 bags are conceived in similar shapes lending the overall collection coherence and synchronicity.
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Rachel Sussman’s ‘La Llareta #0308-2B31 (up to 3000 years old; Atacama Desert, Chile)’, 2008. This project is featured in the publication ‘Photosynthetic’, published by @buchhandlungwaltherkoenig ‘Since 2004 I’ve been researching, working with biologists, and traveling the world to photograph continuously living organisms 2,000 years old and older: the oldest living things in the world. … What does it mean to capture a multi-millennial lifespan in 1/60th of a second? Or for that matter, to be an organism in my 30s bearing witness to organisms that precede human history and will hopefully survive us well into future generations?’ – Rachel Sussman
“We’ve spent so much time trapped in our houses so I wanted to celebrate the beauty of nature,” she said, adding that she also used photographic landscape prints and weaving techniques for other pieces in the collection.
Currently in Korea where she is working closely with her factories, Footwear News caught up with Kim last week via Zoom for all the lowdown on the launch.
FN: Why have you decided to launch footwear and why now?
When we started in 2017 there were only a few other accessories labels in the contemporary market with a strong identity and good price point. Now as it’s become more more saturated so it feels like the right time to inject some newness into the brand to keep up the momentum.
FN: Launching a new category in a pandemic might be considered risky so what do you think will give you the edge?
The shoes are vegan so it feels very timely and in tune with what the customer is looking for now. I’m a pescatarian and have always wanted to make Danse Lente more sustainable. With a new product you can start from zero.
FN: Where are the shoes made?
The shoes are made of vegan leather from the same Italian supplier used by Stella McCartney. I chose them because I knew they already had a lot of experience. They are made in Korea where I’m from because I found some really small factories there which have been really flexible about producing small runs. We are looking into a made to order model with the shoes as it’s both more sustainable and also carries less financial risk.
FN: Why did you decide to make the shoes vegan when the bags are not?
I find that a lot of vegan leather doesn’t quite meet the technical and quality standards that I need for the bags just yet. It’s easier with shoes because you can work with smaller pieces of material. But also making vegan leather shoes helps to normalize the idea for the customer and I can work further on research and development at the same time.
FN: What are the biggest challenges in designing shoes?
Toning down the conceptual idea to a more commercial reality and sourcing some of the materials such as the heels. But overall it has been OK as I’ve been enjoying it so much and am so excited to be working in footwear again.
FN: Where is your biggest market?
We started the brand in London so it’s the United Kingdom and European market. I feel like those consumers really get and understand the brand as they have more confidence in their own taste.
Danse Lente is currently available at stockists incluing DanseLente.com, Galeries Lafayette and Le Bon Marché, Monnier Frères, Lane Crawford, 10 Corso Como, Browns, Selfridges, Bergdorf Goodman and Moda Operandi.