In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout, the businesses of young, emerging and independent designers are likely to be the most vulnerable. In a new series, FN will spotlight these creatives to learn how they are adjusting to a new way of working and living.
“I’m usually really discreet and never want to show myself,” observed the designer who is also the talent behind Chanel’s footwear. “It makes me feel naked,” she revealed. Nevertheless, forcing herself to open up has reaped rewards, bringing her closer to her customers as it lets her speak to them directly.
She has devised new digital initiative, ‘A Shoe A Day’ whereby she is sketching a different shoe every day and sharing the results on her Instagram feed and YouTube channel.
The idea is to demystify the creation process and build a sense of community amid challenging times. “I want to share my passion and show people how much I love shoes. Each one is completely spontaneous so it also lets me share my emotions,” she explained.
“A female client I’ve never met DM’d me to say thank you,” she added. “She is a health worker and said that while I’m not saving lives, it’s brought her so much joy. She told me not to stop.”
While the brand has always been about longevity, it is now more important to Dacade than ever. Quality and purpose are fundamentals, she said: “Every style must be useful, it must have a reason.”
This is born out by sales on her own e-commerce channel. Following the inevitable dip at the start of confinement, traction is building once more with core products, such as her Angie boot, proving most popular.
“It’s like walking barefoot or wearing a glove,” she said of the classic mid-heel Chelsea. “It’s just as easy as wearing a sneaker and feels like a caress.”
She applied the same logic when addressing the issue of buyer cancellations, and described how she is working closely with her retailers to find solutions. “We’re editing the collection and increasing our focus on essentials,” she said. “Nothing can be superfluous. I like the idea of pieces you really need or can’t live without.”
While she might not have access to the financial resources deployed by larger brands, there are advantages to being independent, she says. “In some respects we are lucky as being smaller, we can adapt more quickly to rethink the way we work and find solutions but it’s still a question of money.” To this end she is also seeking investors.
Above all, however, the pandemic has brought home to her the value of kindness, humanity and mutual endeavor. “The world was already changing before the coronavirus and I look forward to being part of that change,” she said. “I want to move forward now more than ever.”
She is keen to diversify on collaborative, co-branded projects — “perhaps with a big name sneaker brand,” she mused. “I like to twist things.”
For now, she is keeping centered with morning yoga sessions online from Paris based studio Arius Yoga. “It helps me breathe better and relieves stress because it forces you to stop thinking.”
Her mantra? “Everything is possible, you just need to roll up your sleeves and keep the faith.”