posted by: freePOrnaoa in General on July 18th, 2011
He is a man who breaks the mold of convention easily. The colors of his straps are at times unusual or unexpected, and at other times shapes of vamps are quite unique. He seems to think unconventionally but still create versatile, functional shoes.
His name is Jon Josef and I first saw his shoes at FFANY, a shoe expo/ merchandisers’/ fashion bloggers’ paradise in New York. I was fortunate enough recently to ask him a few questions. If you’re a shoe lover, an aspiring designer, a merchandiser, a store owner, or just curious about what it’s like to be an up-and-coming shoe designer, or you want to buy his shoes, read on after the jump.
And P.S., aren’t these shoes drop-dead killer-gorgeous??? Weaving, killer heel with horizontal stripe, moto-zipper, curves, platform, black leather, oh my!
ShoeBlog: You grew up in Spain, learning the business from your family, who owned stores and a footwear factory. Tell us a bit more about this experience.
Jon Josef: I grew up in a small town in Spain where the largest industry was manufacturing shoes. My mother’s family owned a factory and my parents owned their own shop. I spent many summers learning about the intricacies of creating and selling shoes. I watched my parents sell the product day to day and saw firsthand the way a simple pair of shoes affected each customer. It became apparent that the details women liked and didn’t like, the quality and cut of the shoe that resulted in comfort or made a bold statement – these were the most important part of creating the best product.
By age 16, I officially started working in the business, spending my summer holidays in my family’s factory, packing shoe boxes and running errands. I worked my way up from the bottom, noting every detail throughout each step of the process. I learned everything, from selecting and cutting leather, to final quality approvals, to the importance of packaging. I definitely believe that it was the combination of first hand experience, hard work and years of being immersed in the industry that enabled me to build a collection that I am truly proud of.
The styles have to be not only unique and beautiful but versatile and functional. While we always say, a classic pump is the most multi-faceted silhouette you can own, I always like to spice things up with more daring design elements.
The heel height and the curve in the insole are two of the most important factors in making a shoe easy to wear all day long while still elongating the leg and flattering the foot. I take every small detail in to consideration before finalizing the collection.
SB: What is the process of designing a shoe like for you? Do you work with a trusted designer or adviser? What are the steps involved?
JJ: It depends on the season and the fashion tendencies at that time…Fall collections are often more difficult as the last construction for a heeled bootie is much more involved than say a flat sandal. I work with collaborators in Spain and in the factories we work with to ensure that we are always at the forefront of the trends and executing those trends in the most comfortable and accessible ways possible. The design is the foundation but the people who translate those designs into actual shoes (pattern makers, factory workers, etc.) are equally as important in creating the perfect outcome.
SB: What has it been like for you to travel, go to events and promote your shoes? Has talking to women about their needs helped you refine this process?
As a designer, you always have to listen to your customers. Innovation and inspiration comes from all around you but the ability to create a shoe that women enjoy wearing comes straight from the customer.
SB: Who are some of your favorite clothing and shoe designers?
JJ: Roger Vivier, Valentino, Balenciaga, and Pierre Hardy.
SB: Where else do you draw inspiration, from the other arts, to nature and technology?
JJ: Inspiration comes from every direction. Various elements drawn from nature, the vibrant colors reminiscent of growing up in Spain, the way women walk with confidence in their shoes, each piece plays an integral role in a constantly evolving collection.
SB: Where do you see the future of the company going?
JJ: As long as the customers enjoy the product we design and continues to ask for more, we’ll keep working hard to introduce incredible, innovative assortments that keep them excited. I want to make sure that as we grow we never loose touch with that concept and our customers.
Find a Jon Josef store near you with his online Store Locator.