Interview with Shoe Designer / Xllent Shoes | Edition IX

Describe your Brand As if we were all blind:
XLLENT SHOES is a brand that was created for women that love new innovated footwear. Footwear that is different, but can be wore on a day to day bases. Unique enough to stand out from other brands. It has as much edge and design style as any high fashion brand, but at a better price point ( 150-300).

When did you realize you wanted to become a designer and what was the first article you ever designed?
The first shoe that I designed and had produced into a sample was a unisex shoe that looked like a Clark Wallabee with a short collar, wool upper and TPR outsole. I was working at Ninewest Corporate office at the time as a sample manager and presented the design to one of the head designers who really liked and had it done for me on the low. When the samples came back the feeling I got was one I don’t think I can ever really describe. I wanted that feeling forever and said that I really want to be a shoe designer — that’s it. After 4 years of working my way from mail boy to product development to design my dream had come true. I still have that shoe and look at it from time to time to remind myself, what inspired me to be where I am.

How would you define your city’s fashion?
Edgy, fun, fast.

When you started out did you think it would be a serious business?
When I first started my first line in 1999, it had to be a serious business venture. I was 24 leaving a job at Ninewest where I had hustled my way from mail-room to product development. I was making decent money for someone who hadn’t finished college and was making a serious decision in my life. I didn’t have anyone I could run back to if it didn’t work out. I knew it wouldn’t be easy at all but took it serious at all times.

How is the Internet changing your craft?
The Internet has change my craft in so many ways. I can look at footwear from around the globe from my home and continue to be inspired day after day. It has also allowed me the ability to reach out to my market directly for opinion and insight on what’s going on. And has helped expose me and my line to tons of people I probably wouldn’t have if there was no Internet. Big up Facebook and Twitter!!

Your concepts are very unique and original is there a pressure to always maintain that consistency with your new designs?
I have to remain unique because that what drives me. I’m always thinking “How can I be different but still have women relate to what my shoes are about”. I don’t want anything I’m doing to look like anything else out there. If it does I go crazy!!!! But I think my keen sense of the streets or urban environment helps me keep my designing different from most because I’m designing footwear from a totally different mind frame. I’m so inspired by the hood but my taste level has grown elsewhere, I know how to fuse the two without over doing it — keeping it tasteful and elegant.

Do you consider yourself an artist?
Yes, I am totally an artist. I’ve always been creative and really couldn’t see myself doing anything that wasn’t a form of art.

Who are some people you want to be interacting with this year?
Well, I am already interacting with some people that have really inspired me in the whole fashion and footwear business, but I am really looking forward to interacting with more celebs that love women shoes!!!!

Lastly, could you talk about any long-term goals you have in mind?
My long term goal is to change the footwear industry and how people look at women shoes!! And the designers behind them