Kat Maconie is the shoe designer creating out-of-this-world footwear for the likes of Ashley Williams and Fyodor Golan.
Not many young designers have had their careers propelled by winning a Drapers Shoe Designer of the Year award, but Kat Maconie’s imaginative and sometimes psychedelic custom shoe designs are unlike anything else. Bold colours, strong prints, architectural shapes and metallic details are Maconie design signatures; her designs are always presented with a tongue-in-cheek attitude – they’re some of the most fun shoes in London.
From the holographic Jolin ankle boots to the chunky electric blue Mary-Jane-style Sadie shoes, the Kat Maconie AW16 collection is an eclectic mix of shapes, colours and patterns. Part Studio 54, part architectural creation, part Alice In Wonderland, her designs are like nothing else. She’s also a regular at London Fashion Week (if both designing and running the business side for her label wasn’t enough), where she works with designers such as Fyodor Golan and Ashley Williams to max out their creativity and create boundary-pushing footwear.
Fascinated by accessories and obsessive with detail from a young age, it’s not surprise that every last design detail and decision is made by Maconie. Creating custom heel designs, she takes inspiration from costume jewellery, exhibitions, vintage stores and even Game Boys to make designs that are rainbow-hued optical illusions. Irreverent and conceptual, Kat Maconie’s footwear designs are nothing short of extraordinary.
Why did you decide to follow shoe design?
I have always been obsessed with accessories, one of my earliest memories was insisting I put on a load of 80s badges onto my dungarees and my mother saying I had too many on already, My mother also had a massive collection of 80s court shoes in lots of different bright colours, from a young age my favourite past time was decorating them with bits I found in her endless supply of costume jewellery, I love detail and detail is what makes a shoe design and that is why I decided on shoe design, I also felt the was a gap in the market for designer shoes at an accessible price point, ones you could love and live in instead of keeping them in special boxes and too valuable to be really worn!
How did you come to win the Drapers Shoe Designer of the Year in 2013? How has it helped your career?
I won the award because the judges believed the designs had a strong identity and fresh approach to shoe design, it definitely helped my International business as buyers internationally are familiar with the award and Magazine.
You often use your trademark details which include unique heels and metal detailing – why do you feel these elements are integral to your aesthetic?
It creates a point of difference and recognizable identity to the brand, we have tried to introducing more traditional heels into the line but the buyers always want the custom designed ones as they know they cannot get them from another brand! We invest heavily in machinery to make new new heels each season and to keep the unique look of each style.
What do you find yourself most often inspired by, and who influences you?
Inspiration can come from anywhere, We get a lot of inspiration from our travels. Ideas have could come from a range of things such as artists that are currently exhibiting in London to Game boy games such as tetris! We are inspired by Victoria &Albert Museum and equally the hardware section in B&Q. Our AW16 print is inspired by a little metal dancing man broach I found in an junk shop in LA.
What’s it like running your own brand? Are you as involved in the business side as the design side?
I love running my own brand but the have been many hurdles on the way, I had my my name stolen in China, that was a big challenge getting that back, I was unable to sell my brand in China with out it, I had to buy it off a man who had trade marked it and fly him to Hong Kong from central China and negotiate with him for many months, it was a bit of a nightmare! Raising finance was also a challenge, developing custom designed shoes with unique heels is very costly, custom machinery and moulds need to be made to produce each new construction but I LOVE the freedom to make decisions, the product we develop. I still get excited when the boxes of new samples arrive, its exciting to be able to imagine a design detail and then see it in reality a few months later. The travel has been great too, I have covered a lot of the world now on sales trips and collection development trips.
How did you get involved with brands such as Fyodor Golan and Ashley Williams and how is designing shoes for shows different to your usual design process?
We have worked closely with the LFW designers to come up with designs to work with their collections. We have also worked with Fyodor Golan for quite a few seasons, we love their bold use of colour and imagination, they always push the creatively to the max and we always end up developing shoes for them that we never thought possible! Working with other designers is always interesting as every designer has a different design process and gives us a fresh take on our existing heels and platforms.