Features

Five minutes with shoe maestro Rupert Sanderson…

Rupert Sanderson, Shoes, Interview, Antonio Berardi, Hong Kong, China, Accessories, Fashion, Britain

Shoe designer Rupert Sanderson needs no introduction, especially for our readers. As one of our favourite cobblers, we have been fans since he started in 2001 thanks to his beautifully made styles (he still insists that all his collections are crafted in Italy, where he owns a controlling stake in a factory). Over the years his designs have managed to tow the line between classic and fashion forward while still surprising fans each season. We met with him on his recent trip to Hong Kong to chat about good design, the Brits and sushi rolls.

The thing I love most about being a shoe designer is…

The limitless, creative freedom. You can do so much within a collection and you are not constrained or restricted by silhouette. I love the process and the way a shoe evolves.

The difference between when I first started and now is…

We have gotten bigger, so I now have more opportunities to tell more stories. For some reason I love the historical collections. With fashion you always need new stuff but customers love re-buying old styles. Something like the Estelle, which is a twist on barbed wire, is still is one of our best sellers. You just continue to grow.

Rupert Sanderson, Shoes, Interview, Antonio Berardi, Hong Kong, China, Accessories, Fashion, Britain

The Moiki (left) and Jeanette (right) from the autumn/winter 2013 collection

My handbags for me are…

Part of a separate story. Unlike the shoes, I wanted a single idea I could repeat. I like the bag stories from brands like Proenza Schouler and Pierre Hardy who have a single idea and keep remaking it. I like the premise. I don’t want my styles to look completely different every season – it doesn’t make sense unless you are a bag brand and that’s what you do. Hopefully in three years time my bags will become a staple rather than something that has been thrown out and completely redesigned each season.

I am looking forward to…

Our collaboration with [fashion designer] Antonio Berardi. We’ve done some incredible embroideries but it has a futuristic slant.

A perfect shoe should look like…

How you want to feel.

Our style can be summed up as…

Contemporary classicism married with a cool wit.

My favourite style from the fall/winter 2013 collection is…

The Avril, it has such grace and is made from ring lizard and black leather.  The sushi inspired shoes are also fun and are made from Kimono fabric. But in my opinion, every woman should own the Estelle.

The British are better shoemakers because…

British designers have no responsibility for production. There isn’t a whole manufacturing industry relying on us like the Italians, so you can design things but without worrying that it’s your business. The Brits have been able to take risk whereas countries with a manufacturing base haven’t.

Made in Italy is so important because ….

It’s the ultimate craft – for each component of a pair of shoes, there are individual specialists. I love that element. Manufacturing is still a big fabric of the Italian life. They have a different value for craftsmanship.

I would love to follow in the footsteps of…

There are many. Manolo [Blahnik] is a unique creature in this world – he straddles the divide between art and commerce. He doesn’t do stuff that he doesn’t want to do – he’s made amazing shoes, but also made styles that are very constrained. Roger Vivier was so innovative in the era he was working in. You can’t repeat that.

My most unusual source of inspiration comes from…

Everywhere! Next season we have an embroidery story using a wreath of wheat sheaves and stitching it up the shoe. Years ago I found a pebble[stone] on the beach when I was 18 in Sri Lanka. I kept it with me and later it turned into a decoration on our pebble shoes.

I would like to be remembered as…

Being remembered is a good start! I want people to say he made a beautiful shoe, a gorgeous shoe. He is a magician!

Rupert Sanderson, Shoes, Interview, Antonio Berardi, Hong Kong, China, Accessories, Fashion, Britain

More must-haves (from top left clockwise): The Waicato, Webii, Valentia and Avril.

www.rupertsanderson.com

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