Archive for the ‘Shoe Interviews’ Category
Last month I had a short telephone call with Courtney and Philip Mason, the owners of a young art-to-wear brand named ‘Studio Jellyfish’. Call it a mini-interview, if you wish.
And, despite the writer’s block that has been for some reason confounding me on this article (this is at least the 3rd draft I have worked on thus far), I am determined to finish this today. Luckily, the hand-painted artwork of these shoes and handbags is striking enough to speak for itself, so I’ve decided to start with a few images to ‘get the conversation going’.
These painted ladies all have their own personality – and names. Names like ‘Golden Goddess’, ‘Blueberry Girl’ and ‘Bubblegum Girl’. You won’t find any generic style numbers here.
Of course, with every pair carefully embellished by hand, would you expect anything else?
Per Courtney, each ‘girl’ has been designed prior to appearing on a shoe or accessory, and is then free-handed onto the fashion canvas using a paint pen medium. The handmade nature of the creative process makes each pair of shoes subtly unique.
When asked if she had a favorite, Courtney answered without a bit of hesitation, “Bubblegum Girl, and some new ones that are in the works.” (Bubblegum Girl is on the second row at the left.)
According to Philip, one of their goals is to bring fine art into everyday accessible fashion. “all day, every day”. And it looks like they have a growing consumer fan base that agrees. In fact, in the just over 4 months that they have been operating their various websites (online shopfront & etsy.com), they have had orders ranging from the United States to Ireland, London, and Saudi Arabia. They also have plans in the works to expand into more mainstream fashion which will include denim and shirts and will continue to feature their signature ‘girls’.
So, who are their favorite designers or other influences? Ferragamo was immediately mentioned for classic appeal and style. When I mentioned how much their visual style reminded me of the bold simplicity of Patrick Nagel’s works – but with a hint of Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls, Philip agreed, saying, “You pretty much nailed it on the head.” He also noted in a separate comment that “We have twelve years working as graphic designers. We love what we do. We wanted to do something for ourselves and it seemed like a natural transition to move that onto shoes and fashion.”
Oh, and about the name; why Studio Jellyfish?
(Politely interrupting each other)
“That goes back to when we first met. We both loved, still love the ocean. There was this South Beach hotel with a jellyfish tank in the lobby. It reflects our love of the sea and has a lot of our past and memories in it.”
So, writers block defeated. Plus, there’s even a small positive to come from it; Studio Jellyfish is now holding a spring sale which ends on March 30th.
Want a closeup of those thigh-highs?
Meet “Sassy Sally“:
If you are one of those (not me) tall gals who can wear high boots, these won’t be around forever. Truly a statement shoe if ever there was one.
I have been meaning to get this article out for about two weeks now (Feb 3rd!) – ever since I had the distinct pleasure of receiving a telephone call from Pasquale Fabrizio for an informal interview following the launch of his amazing new “Q by Pasquale” shoe line.
Unfortunately, a nice little winter illness running through my family combined with a minor back injury got in the way of my plans. But, with the wonders of ibuprofen & a few extra days of bed rest, I’m pretty sure I’ve got it all covered and am finally back on the shoe-blogging horse.
So, before I get to the details, let me share some of the photos that were sent to us from the launch party:
Pasquale posing with shoes and guests:
And, of course, shoes a la carte:
…they had their own red carpet!
Seriously, how TDF are these?
Now to the interview.
First off, let me say that what started as a straight interview covering his new shoe line slowly meandered into a more general conversation between shoe aficionados. It was an absolutely delightful time speaking with someone of similar interests on topics ranging from his new shoe collection to the role of fashion as a display of power and position among women.
The first things we covered were details specific to the 2010 Limited Edition collection which Pasquale referred to in conversation simply as the ‘Oscar’. These shoes, he stated “were really designed to be worn on the red carpet…We had celebrities who were interested in having these for the Grammy Awards. But, I felt that we had waited 5 years to design and make these shoes perfect, I wanted to have them appear at the Oscars first, where they were really meant to be seen.”
So, I admit, as a non-celeb watcher, I will have to watch the Oscar coverage on March 7th to see on whose feet these shoes finally appear!
Now, I had a lot of questions about the design and technical process needed to produce a completely transparent ‘glass’ shoe. We’ve all seen what happens when designers try to make plastic and vinyl shoes. Not pretty – and all too often the antithesis of that whole Cinderella/innocence ideal.
So, the first thing I had to ask was, “Why glass, and why this specific (Murano) glass?”
According to Pasquale, he was on a business trip with Italian suppliers about 5 years ago. He had always wanted to ‘get to it’ (create a shoe) and was looking for new leathers at Italian tanneries. “I wasn’t finding anything. Then we went to Venice and there was a shop with a glass-handled letter opener. And it looked like a stiletto heel. It was this Murano glass and I wanted to do something with it and to make a shoe that was all transparent”.
“What kind of technical challenges did you encounter making an all-glass shoe?”
“The whole thing has been a challenge but we saw it through. People kept saying ‘that can’t happen’. We had to make things and do things in a way that had never been done before. The glass is a high-tempered acrylic glass that is very strong – really a bulletproof glass. So, it is very strong and durable. But, the people who made the shoes didn’t have the experience or knowledge to work with these materials. So, we wound up working with people who were people like machinists who usually worked with metal. So, it was really a learning experience for everybody to do something that hasn’t been done before.”
“Is there any kind of flexibility to the shoe to allow for foot motion?”
“The sole is not flexible at all. But it is very durable. That is one of the reasons why it is a sandal. The heel of the foot has room to flex away from the sole as you walk since the sole does not move.”
Later in the conversation he noted that “Each glass-wrapped heel, just the heel portion, is made completely by hand. And the handcraft and time involved, plus the shipping on just this one portion of a pair of the limited edition shoes costs €1500-€2000. This is before the heel, sole and upper are joined and matched. So, even though the limited edition shoes are priced at $7500, we really are keeping the price as low as possible on this first 500 pair. It’s really about being able to be the first to do this thing that nobody else has done before.”
“So, if you had to create a whole new process, were you involved with adding any patents during this whole process?”
“No. We looked at the whole patent process, but I really want this to be something that is available to others to use. I am happy to have been the first to do this and that people will remember that I created this shoe that showed a different way to do this (making shoes) with both technique and artistry.”
“Will this be a continuing line, or was this a one-time occurrence?”
“We already have plans for our second line which we are producing. The ‘Africa’ line will not have the all-glass sole, so we will be able to produce it at a more accessible price point for more people. It will still be hand-made and have Murano glass elements, but it will be more traditional bottom materials which will allow us to keep the price lower for people who want something like this. ($700-$900)”
Pasquale also has a third line under development that sounds both completely different and intriguing, but I have been asked not to reveal that information. So, I can only leave the above hint; these are still in early development and I’d not want to be the one to give copyists and counterfeiters more ammunition to beat an original designer’s products to market.
Here are some publicity photos on the in-development ‘Africa’ shoes:
“Where will women be able to find your shoes?”
“You can contact us on our website, but we are in negotiation right now with several retailers, particularly on the Africa collection, and will release that information once details are complete.”
“So, are you exhausted?”
‘”Yes, terribly. But it’s exciting. The baby’s born, what to do next? But, things all fall into place.”
As for the rest of our conversation, I just want to put together some scattered quotes on a variety of topics to try to give you a feel for his personality:
On his glass shoes:
“It’s a fantasy of specialness. A woman puts on a glass shoe and it completely changes the way she moves. It affects her on a deep level.”
On being a man who notices shoes:
“I’m the oddball, looking at shoes. But women do that immediately….but I really think it’s wonderful for people to show fashion uniqueness….shoes are the ultimate accessory that makes an outfit.”
“I love accessories. With men it’s shoes and watches; with women it’s bags and shoes.”
Really, the man’s excitement and energy were palpable during our entire conversation. Pasquale Fabrizio must be like the Energizer Bunny in person. He is an active and experienced cobbler. He has designed and overseen production of a one of a kind luxury shoe collection. He has a wealth of knowledge gleaned from his work that he would like to ‘someday’ fit into the pages of a book (imagine a how-to on the care of your favorite bags, shoes, etc. from someone with so much first-hand experience). He is father to adult children. His family cobbling business will be expanding online to accommodate out-of-state customers with order tracking on shoe repairs for their 8000+ customer database (eta 2-3 months).
Oh my, just listing all of this makes me feel a little bit exhausted.
Of course, it’s also made me promise myself something else. When I next wind up in Los Angeles (likely on the inevitable family trifecta of Disneyland, Legoland & the San Diego Wild Animal Park), I will make an effort to drop by to see what he is up to by that time. And, as I’ll be coming from the Pacific Northwest, I’ll have to see how he feels about letting me buy him a cup of coffee and chat with him in person.
This is Kevin Cozens (KrazyKev in our forums). In this photo, he is wearing a pair of Pleaser XTC 826 platform heels:
In his own words:
HI my name is Kevin AKA. KRAZY KEV. I thought I would let you all know a little about me and my liking for high heels. First let me put you straight on a few things.
1.) Yes, im a bit krazy
2.) Yes I have walked in public wearing womens high heels.
3.) No I dont have a fetish for high heels unless worn by a sexy woman.The reason I started to wear high heels is for a very good one. I was looking for a way to raise money for a UK charity called HELP FOR HEROES. I was after a way to emulate pain suffered by soldiers who have been injured while serving in Iraq and Afganistan. In the end I had the bright idea of a long walk but wearing very high heeled womens shoes. On 22 Aug 2009 my day had finally come. I was going to be wearing womens shoes in public for the very first time. I had never worn high heels in my life and I was about to attempt to walk a very long 5 miles in a pair of PLEASER XTC 826. The heels were 7.5” with a 4” platform. I had already made the event known to the public and i had already raised a lot of money. I now ask myself could I go the distance without doing myself harm. After 3.5hrs I finally arrived at my destination. I have to admit that a man wearing huge womens heels are a sure fire way of getting attention. Before the walk I promised my wife that if I complete the walk that I would DOUBLE the distance to raise money for her chosen charity which is Cancer Reasearch UK.
According to his original website, £723.00 was raised toward his chosen charity.
Now he needs our help to determine which shoes he should wear when keeping that promise to his wife – and perform a second, much longer, charity walk (tentatively set for Spring 2010).
Here are the shoes that Kevin is considering for this fund-raising event:
Now, all we need from you, dear readers, is your vote.
Poll will remain open for at least 2 months. Let’s see how many people we can get to help out on this!
posted by: Shomore in Shoe Interviews
Skins is the company behind the much discussed two part footwear structure consisting of the Bone, which offers the orthopedic support, and the Skin, an interchangeable shell that a wearer can easily swap out. Shoeblog recently had an opportunity to conduce an e-interview with Mark Klein, CEO and Founder of Skins Footwear.
We love the idea of interchangeable Skins and wish we had thought of this concept
ourselves. How and where did you come up with the idea for Skin and Bones?
It was about people. It was about offering an experience in footwear that can be personalized, customized, and ergonomic to the consumer. I saw and see this theme playing out in many different industries. Ranging from the auto industry with Toyota Scion and Smart Car, to TIVO’s and IPOD’s, to watches and sunglasses with interchangeable lenses and bands. When I looked down at a friends shoe and noticed he had about 8-10 pairs of the same shoe in a different color the idea really gelled. But I did not want to stop at color, I wanted a base that would always be compelling to come back to – a Bone with a constant fit and feel that is always comfortable and accompanying Skins that range in color, materials and styles to fit almost any occasion. The complete package would need to be collapsible, interchangeable and portable. Allowing the consumer to really pack multiple Skins on the go for any purpose they need. The name Skins denotes a persons ability to keep ‘skinning their bones’ with a different look. The bone is the fit, the structure and the skeleton to for the Skin. Each part is roughly 50% of a normal shoe.
How is the Bone secured to the Skin?
Simply by a pressure fit. The Bones and Skins were made to go together. No zippers, fasteners, buttons or locking mechanisms. Simply insert Bone into Skin, the Skins build out into a shoe and put your feet in and you are ready to go.
Since all feet were not created equal (high arch, normal arch, flat feet), will there be different Bones available?
We currently offer a Bone that fits a multitude of different types of feet. With the bones accompanying 2 pairs of foot-beds (each pair sized differently) and the ability to wear the Bone without the foot-beds, all of these options allow the wearer to really find the variable fit that makes the most sense for them. In addition we will be releasing Bones that at some point will be made to fit the specific foot of its wearer. A truly customized fitting Bone.
What does the future hold for Skins and Bones? Any hope for females that prefer wedges or pumps?
We are currently in development with a myriad of different bones ranging from high-heel, to performance and childrens.
We’ve seen the commercials and photos of Skins but tell us a bit about the man behind Skins.
What is the single biggest contributor to your success?
What shoes are you wearing right now? Any pictures?
None, I’m barefoot in my hotel room.
In your book, what is the most important feature for a shoe? Is it comfort or style?
I would have to say that both are very important to me. I won’t wear a comfortable shoe that is ugly, but I also wont wear a stylish shoe that is not.
Outside of Skins, what are you favorite pair of shoes?
It would be a tie between my chucks and my bottegas
What are the most expensive pair of shoes you’ve ever owned?
My Bottega slip ons. Nice and expensive.