REVIEWS & OPINIONS

Who Are the Most Exciting Shoe Designers Right Now? 

16th February 2020

TEXT BY NATALIE YIASSOUMI | PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANYA SANDUL

We round up all the ones to watch from the mega brands to the up-and-coming names leading the footwear market.

These days we’re spoilt for choice in the footwear world: There’s always a bright young thing taking the market by storm and creating the next it-shoe. At the same time heritage luxury houses are working hard to reinvent themselves season-after-season and hold onto their status and our attention. 

So in a sea of emerging talent and mega brand revamps, who are the most exciting shoe designers right now, who are worthy of our time and money?

If we let the data speak for itself, there’s a clear winner in the footwear arena right now: Amina Muaddi. 

According to fashion search platform Lyst, Muaddi’s brand saw a 73 percent rise in views between October and December last year, while her crystal-embellished Gilda sandals came in second in Lyst’s hottest product index, even beating cult items by established names like Balenciaga, Acne Studios and Bottega Veneta. 

Why the fuss? Muaddi is simply hitting all of women’s soft spots by delivering comfortable heels, feel-good, bright colors and feathers, crystals and glitter galore. It helps too that the shoes are extremely photogenic on Instagram and have amassed a big celebrity following that includes Kendall Jenner, Hailey Bieber, Dua Lipa and Rihanna – who also tapped Muaddi to help her design shoes for her own fashion line, Fenty. 

Muaddi, who has a big Instagram following of her own, also came up with a smart strategy for her label that has allowed her to keep the excitement alive: She presents her collection to a small group of buyers, press and influencers in her elegant Parisian neighbourhood of St. Germain every season but maintains a strict ‘No Photos’ policy and only reveals her new season designs via Instagram when they’re ready to land on the shop floor. It means customers are eagerly awaiting to find out about the next drop, while industry insiders are coveting that early sneak preview, making her presentation, Paris fashion week’s best-kept-secret.

During fashion week, which is well underway in London at the moment, there are some other golden tickets accessories specialists will be hunting, primarily in Milan and Paris which are home to some of the buzziest shoe labels of the moment.

Prada, Bottega Veneta and Gucci are high-up on that list. A mere few months ago those labels came out with multiple hit styles, making them the leaders of the shoe game right now: There were Prada’s Monolith boots, the Lido mules that came down the Bottega runway in myriads of new shades, as well as Gucci’s Rhyton sneakers. Now the question everyone is asking is what will Daniel Lee or Alessandro Michele do next to keep the buzz alive?

Apart from the big guns, a host of younger, more niche names are emerging and creating just as much excitement, particularly for true footwear lovers looking for unique, out-of-this-world designs. According to our street style reports, these include Wandler, Manu Aterlier and Paris Texas, to name a few.

Stylist and designer, Ada Kokosar’s label Midnight 00 is all about fantasy shoes embellished with moon-shaped jewels and pearls, draped in layers of PVC to look like shells. Retail buyers were skeptical at first, but as soon as she posted a photo on Instagram she stole women’s hearts with her flair for statement-making. She then ended up having the shoes sell out and featured at the prestigious Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, which undeniably makes her an exciting player in the shoe world. 

The same can be said for Najeeba Hayat of Liudmila who takes inspiration from anything from Victoriana to the Powerpuff Girls to create elaborate, statement pieces you won’t find anywhere else, including sexy, knee-high Mary Janes to fur and bow-trimmed mules. 

Part of the fantasy is the way that I create the shoes, not just that they are very artisanal, but the simplicity in the way they are made,” said Hayat. 

Amina Muaddi’s candy colours

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