Finds – UK – “Kit” FOOTWEAR
So for my avid readers out there, or for the people who read my last blog entry, you will definitely be familiar with the Sorensen brand. For those of you who aren’t familiar, you can refer to my second to last blog post http://thefashionhavildar.com/highlights-from-london-collections-men-june-2016/ to get a sense of what the brand is about.
Through meeting Wayne Sorensen, design director of the Sorensen brand, I was invited to the exclusive launch event of his Summer store & showroom launch. I was so glad that I went, because aside from having the pleasure of meeting Wayne and drooling all over his collection again, I got to network and meet a lot of interesting people. One of the most fascinating people I interacted with was Ella Luker, an emerging men’s footwear designer, and the brains behind “Kit” FOOTWEAR!
My first impression on meeting Ella, was that she seems really young. However after actually chatting with her, aside from being young, she’s also confident, driven and completely focused on what she wants to achieve. I don’t think I can say the same about many other 21 year olds.
When the day that we agreed to meet arrives, it’s a typical ‘London Summer’ day, which means there’s not even the slightest hint of sunshine anywhere in sight! Initially we agree to meet at Starbucks, however since my flat was so close by, we decided to move there instead.
Ella makes herself at home in my living room, while sipping some peppermint tea. Her whole attitude and body language screams someone who is immensely comfortable in their own skin, and knows exactly what they want in life.
Nadia Karmali – NK
Ella Luker – EL
NK – So Ella, how did you know designing shoes, specifically men’s shoes was for you?
EL – I was always interested in designing shoes, ever since I was young. In fact, when I was 4 or 5, I would create my own paper shoes! I would draw around my own foot on a piece of paper, then cut out a strap out of the paper and then sellotape them both together.
For my A-Levels I studied photography and art. However, I focused all my coursework during my A-Levels on shoes and fashion.
Ella’s winning shoes
After winning this design competition which had approximately 40 contenders, it changed my mind about men’s shoes forever!
NK – So what’s the difference between designing men and women’s footwear?
EL – From my experience in working in this field, men’s shoes are much more limited. Men are actually interested in fashion, and want shoes that reflect their personalities, as opposed to just the main standard types available. Women’s shoes generally have a sex appeal about them, in the sense that if you wear them, the psychology is that you’ll become hot or desirable. Men also want something like that, not just shoes to run in or wear to work!
Also with men’s shoes there’s a bigger surface area to work with, so there’s much more room for experimentation and creating different styles. It’s been somewhat of an honour to be able to study and work in men’s footwear, especially since I was the only person to graduate in pure men’s footwear design, from my graduating class!
NK – What’s your own personal favourite piece/pieces from the collections you’ve designed?
EL – If I had to narrow it down, I would say I have 2 favourite pairs of shoes that I’ve designed. One was for the Cordwainers National Footwear Student Awards 2016, where I was amongst the top 15 finalists of the competition.
Ella at the Cordwainers, National Footwear Student Awards 2016 (Image courtesy of www.cordwainers.org)
My inspiration for this project was the artwork and furniture designs of William Morris, with the intention of producing a
conceptual, hand crafted, and floral collection linking with the SS17′ season trend of reviving vintage florals and creating handcrafted products.
The challenge in this project was incorporating William Morris’s traditional paintings of leaves and flowers and transferring them into modern, hand painted, illustrative interpretations on leather which looked dynamic and impactful.
The other pair that I love, are what I designed for my Final Major Project. This collection did so well that they made it to Graduate Fashion Week and was exhibited all over London city. The event itself, was of international calibre, with companies and brands coming to visit from all around the world.
My inspiration for this particular collection was Frankenstein, and I called the collection ‘Frankenfashion!’ What I found particularly fascinating was how I experimented with ‘stitching into stitching’, especially with the shoes in the middle of this picture.
NK – How would you describe your own sense of style?
EL – I would say quirky! I absolutely love anything that’s remotely metallic and I have a thing for pony fur! I actually own a purple fluffy coat which my boyfriend can’t stand. I love clothes that have print but also texture, my current favourite outfit is my black velour top, leather leggings and my pony fur trainers! (Ella shows me a pic of this outfit, and she actually pulls it off, don’t think many people could!)
Ella in one of her favourite outfits
NK – What’s your favourite article of clothing/accessory to buy?
EL – Shoes and handbags! I own ONLY 20 pairs of shoes and 2 handbags. One of the bags is a snakeskin Mulberry bag and the other one is a Lulu Guinness bag.
NK – Which designer/Fashion House influences your design aesthetic?
EL – Definitely Alexander McQueen! The exhibit last year at the V&A was absolutely amazing! In fact it was particularly special for me because I came face-to-face with this particular pair of shoes that I had posted on my wall for as long as I remember. I loved these shoes so much, that every time I moved flats, I would take this poster with me and pin it to the wall of my new home!
NK – What is your favourite brand? (I have a feeling I know what Ella’s going to say!)
EL – Alexander McQueen (I knew it!)
NK – What’s next for Kit Footwear?
EL – One day, the ultimate dream for me is to have my own men’s footwear line under that particular name. Right now though, being a fresh graduate (who got a 1st by the way,) I need to get enough experience and make enough connections so that I can start my own label.
The name ‘Kit Footwear,’ originated through my Nan. Her name was Kitty and she came from a family of shoemakers and cobblers. She had a special connection with me, and was always very interested and supportive of my shoemaking passion. Unfortunately she passed away 2 years ago, so by using her name for ‘my brand,’ I feel like she’s still here with me (this is where I get goosebumps.)
The finished logo
The origin of the design of the name, came from me tracing my Nan’s handwriting from old cards and letters she had given me, so additionally aside from using her name, it’s like she wrote out the name for the brand for me.
NK – How did you end up working with Sorensen?
EL – My work at University was entered into several different competitions and was also showcased at several events. Through this, I got to network with industry insiders and was invited to some black tie events. At one of these particular events, I had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman by the name of James Brooks. He was fascinated by me and my work, so much so he asked me to e-mail my portfolio to him so he could take a look at my work. As it turned out James was a very good friend of ‘Wayne Sorensen,’ and spoke to him about me.
The next thing I knew Wayne had called me up and asked me if I wanted to pursue an internship with him and the Sorensen brand! It was so amazing, to have landed a job in London, the fashion capital of England, even before I had graduated from University. Wayne has a strong vision for me and him, to collaborate together to come up with a range of men’s footwear that fits into his brands vision, I can’t wait!
Neither can I! I really can’t wait to see what this amazing young woman has to bring to the table! Look out world for the indestructible force, that is Ella Luker!
To follow Ella’s journey connect with her on:
Instagram: @”Kit” Footwear
Her portfolio site: www.ellaluker.com