Alerts & Newsletters

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA Enterprise and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

21 Emerging Designers Rewriting the Rules of Fashion and Footwear

emerging talent, emerging designers, fn emerging designers, fn emerging talent, nyfw, naked wolfe, naked wolfe shoes, naked wolfe platforms, naked wolfe boots, shoes, shoe trends, new shoe brands, up and coming fashion designers, fashion designer
Naked Wolfe's Bronte and Cooper Mance. The design duo's "Spice" platforms won the award of "hottest item in the world" on Lyst's 2022 Heat Index.
Courtesy of brand

For many young, independent designers, the pandemic pushed companies to the limits, testing entrepreneurs on how to pivot in uncertain times. Plenty of brands buckled under the weight of stay-at-home orders, travel bans, furloughs — and later on, supply chain issues and lack of funding, staffing and clarity on the new ways of building a successful business.

But other designers, such as Brandon Blackwood, gained momentum during the pivotal shift. After establishing his handbag business with the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Shopbop in 2020, the designer turned his attention to footwear. It wasn’t without a few hiccups along the way (“If people just knew the adventures that came up to this point… Those shoes have caused real tears,” he recalled to FN), but Blackwood is set to launch his footwear category this month.

After a two-year hiatus, FN’s annual Emerging Talent list is back, with a look at Blackwood’s journey to footwear and 19 other up-and-coming designers who are navigating the new world order of footwear and fashion.

Naked Wolfe

FOUNDERS: Bronte and Cooper Mance
BASED IN: Hong Kong, London and Los Angeles
BACKGROUND: “Naked Wolfe was created because it represents what my siblings and I want this brand to stand for ‘Naked’ represents exposing yourself, putting yourself out there. ‘Wolfe’, because we wanted to create a community or ‘pack’ of like-minded, fashion-forward individuals. Our product is intended to turn heads,” said Cooper Mance, who worked alongside his siblings in their father’s shoe store in Melbourne, Australia, from an early age. “Our collections offer a new aesthetic to designer footwear that differs from traditional fashion houses. We use premium materials and curate youth-relevant styles. We attract a demographic of people who, like ourselves, want to be different and require luxury quality without the traditional inflated price point.”
BUSINESS STRATEGY: Naked Wolfe is focused on increasing brand visibility on a global scale through marketing, wholesale and a physical store presence. The brand launched its first brick-and-mortar location earlier this year in London to much success.
MADE IN: China, Vietnam and Cambodia
DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer, as well as at Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Selfridges, Harrods and Printemps, among others.
MAJOR BREAK: “Our Spice Black Stretch platform boot gained massive viral success having received over 100,000,000 impressions on TikTok and being constantly worn by A-list celebrities,”said Mance.
SPOTTED ON: Bella Hadid, Gigi Hadid, Ariana Grande, Olivia Rodrigo, Jenna Ortega
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “Our focus is developing and expanding the brand. Anything that hinders this — whether it be global financial stability or issues in production — they are all challenges that we can resolve,” Mance said.
TOP STYLES: The men’s Kosa sneaker and the Spice boot and Sporty sneaker in women’s
SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 1.1M on Instagram

naked wolfe, naked wolfe shoes, naked wolfe designers
Cooper and Bronte Mance of Naked Wolfe.Courtesy

naked wolfe, naked wolfe platforms
Naked Wolfe’s bestselling platforms.Courtesy


FOUNDER: Colm Dillane
BASED IN: Brooklyn, N.Y.
BACKGROUND: The New York City native, who attended Brooklyn Tech high school and New York University before embracing fashion full-time, started making T-shirts when he was in high school. Over the last few years, he has shown his collection during Paris Fashion Week, collaborated with Puma and Suicoke, and won LVMH’s Karl Lagerfeld Prize in 2021.
DISTRIBUTION: Dover Street Market, Ssense, Selfridges, LuisaViaRoma and Neiman Marcus
MAJOR BREAK: The spring ’21 season, when Dillane was finally given a slot on the official Paris Fashion Week calendar. The show, done virtually due to COVID, caught the attention of Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons, who added the brand to her Dover Street Market stores.
SPOTTED ON: Khalid, Shawn Mendes, Bad Bunny, Jack Harlow, Gucci Mane
TOP STYLES: The designer’s “Kissing” motif, done on trench coats, puffer jackets and handbags. As for footwear, the designer is launching a collaboration for women with Stuart Weitzman this month, and a men’s boot range with Cocker is set for this fall.
SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 311K on Instagram

kidsuper, colm dillane
KidSuper’s Colm Dillane.Courtesy

KidSuper, footwear

Benedetta Bruzziches

FOUNDER: Benedetta Bruzziches
LAUNCHED: Footwear was added to the designer’s collection for fall ’22.
BASED IN: Caprarola, Lazio, Italy BACKGROUND: After attending the European Institute of Design in Rome and working as a designer in Milan, Bruzziches launched her namesake brand for handbags in 2016 with the help of her artisan brothers back in Caprarola.
BUSINESS STRATEGY: Sustainable craftsmanship MADE IN: Italy, with Bruzziche’s signature
crystal mesh handmade by local artisans in her Caprarola studio
DISTRIBUTION: Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Moda Operandi, H. Lorenzo in the U.S.; 10 Corso Como in Milan; Modes in Paris
MAJOR BREAK: The brand received the Fondazione Altagamma award for fashion in 2016.
SPOTTED ON: Addison Rae
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “Expanding consciously,” said the designer.
TOP STYLES: The Goliarda mule, a sparkly heel that incorporates the Bruzziches signature handmade crystal mesh
SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 99K on Instagram

Created with RNI Films app. Preset 'Ilford Delta 100'
Benedetta Bruzziches.Courtesy

Black Suede Studio

FOUNDER: Kris Avakian
BASED IN: Montreal
BACKGROUND: The Black Suede Studio Group initially launched in 2016 as a private-label company, after seeing a void in the market for high-quality shoes at a mid-range price point. The consumer brand debuted two years later.
BUSINESS STRATEGY: “We are still a young brand, so our focus right now is to continue growing and evolving, improving on every aspect of the business and our shoes to become the best. Our current strategy is to continue to build brand awareness and expand globally,” said Avakian.
MADE IN: Brazil
DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer, as well as wholesale with Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Revolve, Saks Fifth Avenue, Harvey Nichols, Kith, Holt Renfrew and Browns, among others.
MAJOR BREAK: “So far, it has been our amazing retail partners and our gorgeous community of loyal customers and content creators that have supported us from day one, as well as those that have met us along the way and continue to support the brand day-to-day,” said Avakian.
SPOTTED ON: Shay Mitchell, Jennifer Hudson, Caroline Stanbury
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “Our biggest challenge this year will be managing the economic recession. We predict that retailers will be much more conservative for the coming year, and we will navigate through that by controlling inventory levels and growing our direct-to-consumer business.”
TOP STYLES: The “Icons” collection
SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 27K on Instagram

black suede studio
Kris Avakian of Black Suede Studio.Courtesy

Emme Parsons

FOUNDER: Emme Parsons
BASED IN: Palm Beach, Fla.
BACKGROUND: Parsons’ goal when she launched was to create timeless designs that speak to women, whether they are 16 or 60. Since then, she has expanded her label to include sneakers, boots, loafers and more — but sandals are her bread and butter. Parsons previously was the art director at Condé Nast’s Lucky magazine.
BUSINESS STRATEGY: “I always wanted to have a really healthy balance — around 50/50 split between wholesale and direct-to-consumer. I didn’t want to be too heavy in one category because you don’t want to be too beholden and rely on one channel too much,” she said. Next up, Parsons is eyeing retail expansion with the potential of opening her own brick-and-mortar shop.
MADE IN: Italy
DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to- consumer, as well as Bergdorf Goodman, LuisaViaRoma, Net-a-porter, Ssense, Shopbop, Goop and more.
SPOTTED ON: Meghan Markle, Gwyneth Paltrow
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “The biggest one right now is the supply chain issues,” she said. “I just want to be mindful about how we expand and how we grow and not get too far ahead of ourselves.”
TOP STYLES: The Bari and Laurie sandals
SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 44K on Instagram

Designer Emme ParsonsCourtesy of Emme Parsons


FOUNDER: Amina Means
BASED IN: Oklahoma
BACKGROUND: After an ankle sprain and almost three years of not being able to wear the shoes she loved, Means entered the shoe industry to create stylish footwear options without sacrificing comfort. She previously worked in interior design.
BUSINESS STRATEGY: “My biggest focus right now is working on some of the amazing collaborations we have in the pipeline, including a Wonder Woman collection with Warner Bros. for their 100-year anniversary,” said Means. “My business strategy is to continue to nurture and grow our retail partnerships and expand to new territories outside the U.S. I’m also very focused on expanding our production to include more factories in Milan and create an additional fulfillment center that fosters an effective warehouse management system.”
MADE IN: Italy
DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer, as well as at retailers Saks Fifth Avenue, Shopbop, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Intermix.
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “Financial support — it’s been very challenging to expand our production, as well as invest into marketing/branding. We are tackling this by staying agile and embracing cost-effective ways to drive our brand’s message.”
TOP STYLES: The Aurum, Diamante mule and Stellar pump
SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 55K on Instagram

Designer Amina Means

Marie Laffont

FOUNDER: Marie Laffont
BASED IN: New York
BACKGROUND: The Parisian native got her start while in university, studying under Pierre Hardy. She went on to work as a designer for Christian Louboutin, Sonia Rykiel, Zac Posen and Sam Edelman before launching her own brand.
BUSINESS STRATEGY: “Focusing on uniqueness, craftsmanship and inspiration,” said Laffont. “This is going to be a strong focus for us moving forward, giving purpose to each style and creating a story behind each. We want to create a community through the client base and connect with other brands through future partnerships and collaborations.”
MADE IN: Italy
DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer through Laffont’s website, as well as through pop-ups and private clients. Wholesale launched in 2022 with Merci Paris, RAC in New York and Chuckies Brooklyn for fall ’23.
MAJOR BREAK: A runway collaboration with designer Andre Walker. The collection was shown with New Yorkers as models: lawyers, educators, artists.
SPOTTED ON: Daphne Groenevald, Gaia Repossi, Precious Lee
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: Differences in supply chain, availability and cost
TOP STYLES: The Frida boots and the Gigi heel, the latter of which sold out within a week of its introduction
SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 10K on Instagram

Marie Laffont

Haus of Honey

FOUNDER: Stefano Miele
BACKGROUND: The designer spent more than 10 years working on the commercial footwear design teams for luxury brands such as Prada, Miu Miu and Moschino. But it was his mother’s shoe shop in his seaside hometown of Gaeta between Rome and Naples that left an imprint on Miele’s creative psyche. The “Honey” brand title comes from the designer’s last name — “honey” in Italian.
MADE IN: Italy
DISTRIBUTION: Wholesale only, through Italian retail juggernauts such as Antonia, Rinascente and 10 Corso Como in Italy; Saks Fifth Avenue in New York and Level Shoes in Dubai
MAJOR BREAK: Launching the collection at Antonia with a dedication to the brand’s key silhouette, the wedge
TOP STYLES: The Honey Bubble ankle boot; the Croco crystal wedge sandal.
SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 7.5K on Instagram

haus of honey
Haus of Honey designer Stefano Miele.Mauro Maglione

Camilla Gabrieli

FOUNDER: Camilla Gabrieli
LAUNCHED: 2018 for bridal; 2022 for the women’s collection
BASED IN: Los Angeles
BACKGROUND: “I started with bridal because that was my first inspiration when I got married. I could not find a pair of shoes to wear,” said Gabrieli. She has since expanded her brand to include a full collection of women’s luxury shoes available for preorder now. Prior to launching her own company, Gabrieli worked at Vivienne Westwood on the sales team. “My inspiration always comes from the heels. I love modern architecture and shapes and what can I create into a heel — that combined with timeless silhouettes.”
BUSINESS STRATEGY: “Expanding to more major retailers is definitely the goal, along with growing e-commerce. That’s my biggest focus, but also growing the brand. I’m looking to add a board of advisors to the company and eventually accept investors.”
MADE IN: Italy
DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer, as well as at Intermix online, Gente in Rome, Printemps in Paris and Galeries Lafayette in Qatar.
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “Production issues [have been a challenge], to be able to have enough samples to satisfy demand. And securing reliable production was super challenging,” Gabrieli said.
TOP STYLE: Vittoria slingback pumps
SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 10.8K on Instagram

Designer Camilla Gabrieli


FOUNDER: Mo D’Accori
BASED IN: London
BACKGROUND: “I moved at the age of 17 to London and spent most of my time studying how shoes were made, the components, which led me to sketching and creating my first pair of shoes in 2011, which were worn by Lady Gaga,” said D’Accori. “Ten years later, I founded my brand that is bold
and flamboyant or subtle and understated. The result is always
a unique blend of handcrafted, artisan shoes with a
contemporary edge.”
BUSINESS STRATEGY: D’Accori is in production for pre-fall ’23 and adding new designs and colorways.
MADE IN: Italy
DISTRIBUTION: D’Accori launched its online business in early 2022. The brand is also available at Net-a-porter and Matchesfashion, as well as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Mytheresa, Elyse Walker, Harrods, Selfridges, Browns, LuisaViaRoma, Antonia, Level Shoes, Ounass, David Jones and Beymen.
SPOTTED ON: Beyoncé, Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, Doja Cat and Alexa Demie
SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 16K on Instagram

Mo D’Accori

Mia Becar

FOUNDER: Betzabe Gonzalez
BASED IN: Los Angeles
BACKGROUND: Gonzalez earned an MBA with an emphasis in marketing, then later took a design course at Arsutoria School in Milan. She said she first fell in love with the art of shoemaking at the age of 9, when she visited her extended family in Mexico, discovering a new passion that inspired the later creation of Mia Becar.
BUSINESS STRATEGY: “Our current focus is our wholesale development to expand the brand domestically and internationally. We understand that it is important to have omnichannel distribution and we are working hard to partner with major retailers around the world,” said Gonzalez. Mia Becar aims to produce curated capsule collections and up to three wholesale deliveries per year.
MADE IN: Italy
DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer and Printemps. “We are looking forward to our
first wholesale showroom presence for NYFW in February.”
MAJOR BREAK: Mia Becar recently received the Accessories Council’s Design Excellence Award, as well as Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award.
SPOTTED ON: Jennifer Coolidge, Mindy Kaling, Lizzo, Kristen Stewart
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “Efficiently allocating budget. Since we’re redirecting the brand’s strategy, it is essential to ensure that we focus our resources on the right activations,” said Gonzalez.
TOP STYLES: The Alessandra Pump, the Audrey sandal, the Samantha boot
SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 16.4K on Instagram

Betzabe Gonzalez

Ugo Paulon

BASED IN: London
BACKGROUND: Elise previously freelance designed in ready-to-wear and dove into footwear as an artisan project. “In the beginning, it was getting the shape of the shoe, and I wanted it to be quite expressive. It was more of a test for myself to see how much of a high-end design product I could make out of no virgin materials,” said Elise. Upcycling and sustainability have since become the core of the brand, utilizing pre-existing and recycled materials to minimize the environmental impact of its production. Its early prototypes were made from vintage shoes and second-hand fabrics sourced on eBay. (The name Ugo Paulon originates from the merged usernames of the different eBay sellers.)
BUSINESS STRATEGY : “My goal is to crack the code and get my supply chain as I want it. It’s such a big machine that I’m actually switching factories now to a smaller one where they have a really strong development department and it’s female-led with a strong sustainability profile.” The designer is also looking to evolve its signature product buy transforming the swirl print into a trim through injection molding with recycled plastic.
MADE IN: Sourced in London, made in Italy
DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer as well as at Browns, Ssense, H.Lorenzo, LN-CC and Harvey Nichols
SPOTTED ON: Bella Hadid, Paloma Elsesser, Isamaya Ffrench
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “Scaling, and just finding the right people to work with. That is something that’s been a steep learning curve.”
TOP STYLE: Momber mule


FOUNDER: Anna McLaren
BASED IN: Melbourne, Australia
BACKGROUND: “I studied fashion design at university then went on to intern and work in both high-end luxury brands as well as commercial fashion companies for the next 7 years,” said McLaren. “The launch and positioning of A.Emery drew inspiration from my years imbedded in the industry. Our aim is to produce and showcase luxury minded product with a more approachable sales position.”
BUSINESS STRATEGY: A.Emery is looking to bolster its e-commerce position as well as broaden its product offering in 2023.
MADE IN: Sandals are produced in India and boots are made in Italy.
DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer as well as online at Net-a-Porter, Moda Operandi, FWRD, Goop, Harvey Nichols and more.
MAJOR BREAK: “Launching on Net-a-Porter was an incredible moment and has put so many more eyes on our brand.”
Post pandemic challenges: “This year our team will be expanding which is exciting, but also challenging. We are still a very small team so finding people to slot into our culture and business pace is going to take some time.”
TOP STYLE: The Jalen Sandal

Anna McLaren


FOUNDERS: Havva Mustafa and Ali Mustafa
BASED IN: London
BACKGROUND: Havva and brother Ali come from a family of footwear and are the third generation in the business. Havva studied at Cordwainers LCF and after worked as a designer for trend-focused brands before launching her own business with her brother.
BUSINESS STRATEGY: “Our biggest focus right now is shifting our production from Turkey to Italy. We felt to keep up with the high standards of quality and design that we had set as a core value for the brand, we needed to get the structure in the factory to an even higher standard,” said Havva. “Our current strategy for this year is moving away from seasonal collections and having smaller, themed-based collections that will drop more regularly throughout the year keeping our customers more engaged. These smaller collections will also give us more opportunities to be experimental in our designs.”
DISTRIBUTION: Havva is currently focused on direct-to-consumer. “However, when the new collection is ready we will be looking to reach out to key stores that we feel fit the brand. Our aim with wholesale will be to broaden our brand awareness and have several locations where consumers can go and see the quality and get a feel for the fit.”
MAJOR BREAK: “Creating the Texas range. Our cowboy boots went on to be our best sellers and became a cult shoe through social media.”
SPOTTED ON: Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, Ashley Benson
POST PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “Moving the factory was definitely a difficult move which has led to us not producing any new styles for over 6 months,” she said. “Brexit has had a major impact on international sales in Europe due to the additional duties customers are facing. More and more customers in Europe are afraid to order, but we are now working with our team to try and alleviate the costs and hope to be able to provide our existing and new international customers with a better shopping experience.”
TOP STYLES: The Texas and XO collections


FOUNDERS: Myriam Belzile-Maguire (founder and lead designer) and Romy Belzile-Maguire (co-founder and Director of Operations and Marketing
BASED IN: Montreal, Canada
BACKGROUND: The sister duo launched after being inspired by the various direct to consumer businesses around at the time, think brands like Glossier, Nasty Gal, Mejuri, etc., and wanted to be a part of the movement. Myriam studied at Cordwainer’s College in London and previously works as a footwear designer at Pajar and Aldo. Romy, meanwhile, focused mainly on honing marketing and communication skills. “We decided to create a business with no compromises, original designs, limited quantities, sustainable production, European craftsmanship, transparent pricing, great customer service, unique store experience, no pressure sales,” said Myriam. “We wanted to create a win-win situation where the factories are paid a fair price, our employees can thrive, our company is profitable and our customers get the best product at the best price.”
BUSINESS STRATEGY: The founders are looking to expand their physical retail presence in the West Coast as well as increasing drop-shipping partners.
MADE IN: Italy and Portugal. Maguire also has a host of handbags, sunglasses, and gloves made in small factories all over the world, from Spain to Italy and China.
DISTRIBUTION: Maguire operates stores in Montréal, Toronto, and most recently, New York. Maguire also has an online store. Their DTC business represents 95% of their sales and wholesale is only 5% at retailers Madewell and Simons.
MAJOR BREAK: “Opening a NYC store was definitely an important milestone. We are an independent brand without big VC backing, so being able to open a store in Nolita next to all the big brands is a huge accomplishment,” said Myriam.
SPOTTED ON: Sophie Nelisse, Karine Vanasse, Kiana Ledé, Charlotte Cardin
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “When half the factory workers are at home with Covid or when airlines don’t have enough pilots or the delivery company doesn’t have enough staff to deliver goods it causes major delays. When all these small delays are added together it messes up the entire production and you have nothing to sell in your stores,” Myriam said on supply chain issues.
TOP STYLES: Cortina, Estrella, Nisa and Bormio Boots
TOP STYLE: Lust, Belle, Saturn and Sienna

Myriam & Romy Maguire of Maguire shoes, photographed at their Boul St-Laurent store, Montreal QC.
Myriam & Romy Maguire of Maguire shoes, photographed at their Boul St-Laurent store, Montreal QC.RICHMOND LAM


FOUNDER: Voyetté Lee
BACKGROUND: “I wanted to create unique shoes at an affordable price and to create something that was mine,” said Lee, noting she hasn’t had formal design training. “I love shoes. I understand shoe anatomy. And I just I just conquered all of this through research and self-drive.”
BUSINESS STRATEGY: “My goal right now is getting my shoes into Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom and department stores, and market my brand more.”
MADE IN: China
DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer online
MAJOR BREAK: “Before I had a PR company, Tyra Banks walked out on “Dancing With the Stars” holding her dress up and she’s wearing my shoes. I screamed. Tyra actually tagged my brand, too.”
SPOTTED ON: Nicki Minaj, Lizzo, Serena Williams, Keke Palmer
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “Getting my name out there. I need more people to see my brand. I put my heart and my soul into my shoes because I don’t want to be like everybody. I want to be different and that’s what makes our brand so unique.”
TOP STYLES: The Slay Heel, Oh Helen Feather Pump, Carroll Sandal

Voyetté Lee

Jamie Haller

FOUNDER: Jamie Haller
BASED IN: Los Angeles
BACKGROUND: Haller has had past experience in apparel design, working across categories. “I have had a pretty in depth outerwear experience, which involves a lot of skins. So I had a familiarity with leather,” she said on launching her line of timeless leather flats. When it came to launching her own brand, Haller’s first style in the collection was the Jutti Slipper — an Indian footwear design that she found nearly 20 years in India that she was always looking to find again.
BUSINESS STRATEGY: “I definitely want to build a relationship directly with the people who want to buy my shoes [through e-commerce]. And I want to tell my story in a very open way so that people feel connected to it. But I also am really interested in pairing with shops that I admire. I’d like to have more wholesale accounts. We’re just careful who we sell to and we want to sell to the right partners.”
MADE IN: Italy
DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer and various independent retailers across California, New York, Texas and more.
SPOTTED ON: Emily Ratajkowski
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “There’s talk about the recession, but I’m forging ahead optimistically and I’m developing new styles, and I’m exploring how am I going to expand into these different areas and not really limiting myself in any way.”
TOP STYLE: Penny Loafers

Jamie Haller

10th Floor

FOUNDERS: Fiona Brown and Kim Kelly
BASED IN: Manchester, England
BACKGROUND: Brown’s background included 10-plus years in buying as well as product development at companies including ASOS. After looking to work for smaller businesses, Brown decided to launch her own footwear design and sourcing company called 10 Studio, which eventually led to the launch of her own brand. Kelly is a full-time designer and Brown’s business partner. Said Brown, “We saw a gap in the market of beautiful luxury footwear, hyper-glamorous shoes but not at $1,000. We have amazing shoes that are beautifully made at a democratic price.”
BUSINESS STRATEGY: “To focus on building the DTC business, growing the brand awareness and building on press. More long-term, our focus is more on the wholesale side. We’re just trying to be patient with this and grow slowly. We would love like to partner with retailers such as Farfetch and Lyst.”
MADE IN: China and Brazil
DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer
SPOTTED ON: Halle Bailey, Conan Gray, Shirley Manson
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “The biggest challenge and a huge barrier to entry in the footwear market is trying to find a manufacturer that will deal with you and is willing to make small production runs for complicated designs.”
TOP STYLE: The Manhattan

Kim Kelly and Fiona Brown

Inola Ojen

FOUNDER: Aderinola Ojengbede
BASED IN: Boston
BACKGROUND: Nigerian-born Ojengbede, who also works full-time as a practicing doctor, said she always had trouble finding shoes in her size, a women’s 12, and even later when she moved to the United States. Before launching her brand, she took a course in footwear design with the goal to launch extended sizes. “I would think, ‘Why am I not worthy to wear shoes? Why would brand not make shoes or clothing for a particular set of people?’ That’s how this started — to tell women, especially in extended sizes, that I see you and you deserve to wear pretty shoes.”
BUSINESS STRATEGY: Ojengbede is aiming to grow her online business and social following, as well as finding potential wholesale partners.
MADE IN: Italy
DISTRIBUTION: Direct-to-consumer
POST-PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “Funding. I just have to be able to manage the business and not get into too much debt. Finding investors is difficult.”
TOP STYLES: Jaya Sandal, Saba sandal, Florie sandal

Aderinola Ojengbede


FOUNDER: Doni Nahmias
LAUNCH YEAR: 2018; Started footwear in 2021
BASED IN: Los Angeles, Calif.
BUSINESS STRATEGY: Continuing to build a reputable business with a strong retail presence. We are also planning to grow our footwear collection with new styles in 2023.
MADE IN: Peru, Los Angeles, Italy, Romania
DISTRIBUTION: Global – North America, Europe, and Asia being the dominant markets.
MAJOR BREAK: The brand’s Paris runway shows have been incredibly integral to the business, as well as the celebrity support it has received from incredible people like
SPOTTED ON: J.Lo, Justin Bieber, Jack Harlow, Machine Gun Kelly, Odell Beckham, Jr., Charles LeClerc, Lewis Hamilton, Jayson Tatum, Lil Baby, Kodak Black, Miles Chamley-Watson, and more
POST PANDEMIC CHALLENGES: “We are having to re look at factories that can work around our smaller unit production. We are a small brand and we’re not always able to meet the minimums. We are working really hard to get our margins where they need to be to be a profitable business. Managing cash flow is always a challenge and making sure we can survive in between seasons during a recession market that is buying very small and safe. And last – we’re staying very lean on development and spending while the market makes its corrections.”
TOP STYLES: Black canvas Five-o Sneakers, our cargo pants, silk sets and trucker hats.
SOCIAL FOLLOWING: 30.5k on Instagram

Doni Nahmias
Doni NahmiasNahmias
NAHMIAS Five-O Sneakers
Nahmias’ new Five-O sneakers in black.Courtesy of Nahmias
Daily Headlines

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA Enterprise and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

FN 2023 Emerging Talent: 21 Up-and-Coming Footwear Designers to Watch
Get the Latest Issue
Only $24.99 for one year!
PMC Logo
Footwear News is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 Fairchild Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved. FN and Footwear News are registered trademarks of Fairchild Publishing, LLC.