New York-based shoe designer Paul Andrew started his eponymous label in the spring of 2013 after stints at various high-profile fashion houses such as Calvin Klein and Alexander McQueen. The award-winning designer made a stop in Hong Kong to mark the launch of his glamorous Asian-inspired spring/summer collection at On Pedder.
When did you realise you wanted to become a shoe designer?
My career path became clear quite early in life. I grew up in England and my father was the Queen’s upholsterer at Windsor Castle; being surrounded by luxurious textiles and artisan craftsmanship had a significant influence. In school, my favorite class was Design Technology; I loved the idea of designing something that could enhance and perform in a person’s life, and being able to create it using modern technological advances. But fashion was always my first interest. Even as a young child I would save my pocket money in order to buy British Vogue. When it came time to choose a field of study for university, fashion footwear design seemed like the perfect amalgamation of all my interests.
What made you want to start your own line?
I had always dreamed of having my own line, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2012 that I finally felt ready, and most importantly, that I had something to say that would differentiate my shoes from everything else in the market. Back then, the trend was decidedly about chunky, platform footwear, which has never been my personal aesthetic. I felt it was time to turn attention back to the simple elegance, chic and sophistication that only a single sole stiletto can offer. After having worked with some of the most iconic designers of our time, from Donna Karan, to Calvin Klein, to Alexander McQueen, I felt ready not only in my personal aesthetic but also in my technical ability to offer the type of quality and comfort that women these days require when buying luxury footwear.
Which type of woman do you envision wearing your shoes?
She’s chic, confident and intelligent. She demands style, elegance and the most luxurious materials on the market, but she’s also a pragmatist. She’s a CEO, a restaurateur, a gallerist, a mother, a photographer. She wants her footwear to not only complement her style, but also perform in her day-to-day life – from the boardroom to the city streets.
Something I love about the reaction to the brand around the world has been that women from all walks of life are buying the shoes. I’ve striven to really provide something for everyone, from a young girl going on her first job interview to an older woman attending a glamorous black tie gala.
Talk us through the shoe-making process from start to finish.
The design process begins with tremendous research, sketching, then even more research. I typically create hundreds of ideas before narrowing down the styles that will end up in the collection. Simultaneously I source materials, working with tanneries in Italy and mills in France to develop exclusive materials. After perfecting the design I travel to Italy, where I personally craft the last, heel, and pattern for each shoe. Then, four weeks later, I receive the first round of prototypes from Italy and make fit and design alterations – for every shoe I go through no less than three prototypes before that shoe comes to the shop floor. It’s an exhaustive process, but I think the result is the truest expression of luxury footwear.
What shoe do you think looks best on a woman?
My preference has always been an elegant, simple, single sole stiletto pump. My version of this is the Zenadia and I have made it in every imaginable color and fabrication over the years – even ivory suede as part of my bridal capsule collection.
Describe your brand in three words.
Chic, elegant and joyful.
What’s it like working with On Pedder?
On Pedder is truly special in that they have one of the best assortments of footwear in the world. Their stores, visual merchandising and selection of product is really unparalleled. When my sales team and I explored expansion in the Asian market, it was absolutely essential that On Pedder be our partner, as they are simply the height of luxury in their market.