Fashion Reverie Exclusive: Kendall Miles Puts her Fiery Stamp on Footwear

Image courtesy of chicago splash.com

Image courtesy of chicago splash.com

Be brave enough to live life creatively. The creative place where no one else has ever been. — Alan Alda

In this volatile fashion market, bravery and perseverance is necessary for any designer to maintain their brand. But, it has always been that way.

Whether the market is up or down, it takes confidence and a winner-take-all attitude to survive the vicissitudes of the fashion industry. Fashion is risk adverse, so the weak-minded better take flight.

Taking flight is not in Kendall Miles vocabulary. This young designer embraces it all; all the risk in the fashion industry and all the triumphs. And in her short career, Kendall Miles has experienced both.

Kendall Miles’ shoe designs demonstrate that she has lots of great ideas, craftsmanship skills and a fashion-forward sensibility. But Miles also has great business acumen and determination.

Never one to mince words, Kendall Miles knows her own mind and has a clear idea of who her customer is. And above all, she is very, very brave.

Images courtesy of Seventh House PR

Images courtesy of Seventh House PR

Fashion Reverie: You have this passion for shoes. Where does this passion come from?

Kendall Miles: My mom has always loved shoes. She has this fabulous collection of shoes, from Manolo Blahniks to Prada and Gucci. Through my mom, I was first introduced to luxury shoes, superior in quality and designer. When I was younger, I can remember playing in her closet all day, wearing her pumps. I wore my moms shoes out to parties in high school. I was the only one wearing high heels at that age, by the way.

Shoes have always been my passion and then it became this thing between my mom and I. We have this secret language around shoes. If I did well in school, my mom bribed me with shoes.

FR: You launched your eponymous shoe line while you were a senior in college. How did that all come about?

Kendall Miles: That was really hard. I was in college in Los Angeles. I am originally from Chicago, but I was studying at the University of Southern California (USC). I’d had a bad breakup in LA and after the breakup I realized I had very few friends. So, to get over the breakup and with the extra time on my hands, I decided to launch a shoe line. Crazy right!!

FR: That said; how did you source leather, get finances, and mentorship for your first collection?

Kendall Miles: I was majoring in international relations, so footwear design was definitely off the beaten path. First, I had real ideas around shoes that women would want to wear and that lead me to sketching my ideas. The first person I took my sketches to was my mom and she loved them. That was my first stamp of validation. My mom had a friend who worked in fashion consulting. She’d worked for Nordstrom, and had a lot of fashion connections in LA. This friend sent my sketches out to people in her network and from there opportunities fell in my path.

The companies that were interested in me as a footwear designer set up a series of interviews with me to work for their brands. I thought working for someone else would be a good path for me, so I interviewed at global brands and nothing seemed to fit. I decided that I really should work for myself and have complete freedom over everything I was doing.

During that time, I met someone from Thomas Wylde—a company I interviewed with—we clicked, and this gentleman connected me with an agent in Italy. So all the challenges a designer can have working with Italian tanneries and factories was kind of smoothed out for me. An agent can facilitate factories and material sources.

Images courtesy of Seventh House PR

Images courtesy of Seventh House PR

FR: What was it like studying at the Arts Sutoria, and why the choice to study there?

Kendall Miles: It was actually really tough. They had a cookie cutter design method of how someone should design shoes. My sketches didn’t seem to meet what they were required. That made everything more difficult. But, my challenges there fueled me to work hard and I was getting validation from the other editors. Studying in Italy was an eye opening experience because there was so much to learn.

FR: What was the course concentration at Arts Sutoria?

Kendall Miles: We learned the process and principles around making different types of shoes. So, there were lots of construction courses. There were also sketch classes and pattern-making classes.

FR: How did you get your shoe line financed?

Kendall Miles: I did a round of angel investing.

FR: Who is your customer?

Kendall Miles: My customer base is anywhere from 18 to 55 years of age  She is strong, opinionated, well researched, and passionate about everything she does. And, she likes to make a statement.

FR: What is your design aesthetic?

Kendall Miles: My design aesthetic is very sexy, elegant, timeless; and there is an edge with a refined sexuality.

FR: Lets talk about your spring/summer 2017 shoes. What was the inspiration?

Kendall Miles: Cleopatra, and her relationship with Julius Caesar inspired the spring/summer 2017 collection. I played with the design motif of the breastplate that Cleopatra made from Cesar’s coins when he was murdered. I am an academic, so I do a lot of research.

Images courtesy of Seventh House PR

Images courtesy of Seventh House PR

FR: Let’s talk about your pistol-packing, James Bond-like shoes, where did that come from?

Kendall Miles: That particular shoe design motif came from spats that men wore on their shoes, dating back to the Gilded Age. I took that idea of having a component that you can attach to the shoe and remove at will, and I modernized this accessory.

FR: What are the price points?

Kendall Miles: My price points are $500 to $1600.

FR: Which celebrities are wearing your shoes?

Kendall Miles: Hailey Baldwin, Tinashe, Andra Day, Regina King, Naturi Naughton, and several others.

Images courtesy of Seventh House PR

Images courtesy of Seventh House PR

FR: What can consumers expect from you next?

Kendall Miles: They can expect more fire designs. Designs that  light up your feet and are amazing.

—William S. Gooch

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