Somewhere between the land of super expensive shoes that you can’t afford (and will probably go out of style not even a year later) and the cheap high street stuff that is %99 not manufactured ethically and %100 will be on at least 15 other women’s feet, there stands a new wave of independent shoe designers that create some of the coolest and affordable footwear on the face of the earth. You may have heard of some, may have seen some on Instagram or may have been seeing it for the first time here but what they all have in common is that you need at least one pair from each, if you can stop there. Here are the hottest 15 independent shoe brands of 2017:
After working for Gianfranco Ferré and launching Tory Burch shoes in 2005, designer Mercedes Castillo created her namesake brand this year. Spring 2017 collection is her first collection ever and all the pieces are fun, feminine and comfortable. Shop her collection here.
Created in Berlin, handmade in Italy – aeydē offers clean shapes, luxury materials and high-end traditional craftsmanship resulting in affordable contemporary footwear.
Made in Italy and inspired by her former East London home, the unisex label embodies what the designer refers to as boyfriend chic – reminiscent of that special piece borrowed from a loved one.
Gray Matters shoes are standout sculptural pieces: objects with a life of their own or enhancing the character of women like no other. They are all made by three generations of expert shoemakers near Venice in Italy. Exuding with artisanal details, each piece carries an attitude of its own; a casual confidence of women who can own it.
Designer Jessica Taft Langdon have worked for a number of years for diverse brands as Coach, Proenza Schouler, Catherine Malandrino, Alexander Wang, & Everlane before taking her extensive experience westward and settling in Los Angeles. The entrepreneurial spirit of LA., as well as the high quality shoe making that she found in the area have inspired her to start creating footwear that reflects her own personal aesthetic.
Designed in New York City by Pookie and Louisa Burch, Trademark shoes and accessories are meant to be just that—the trademark pieces in a woman’s closet. The label delivers on its mission with striking-yet-subtle staples which can effortlessly be worked into any type of outfit.
After years of travel between her hometown of Paris, New York, Madrid and Marrakesh, constantly collecting small objects and reimagining vintage clothing, Parme Marin founded her eponymous line of eclectic accessories in 2013. Marin is the living embodiment of her designs, mixing the minimalism of cosmopolitan New York with the detailed opulence of Morocco.
Created by shoe industry veteran Ty McBride, as his first solo branded project, IB sets out with clear intentions: “To create the pieces that help you fill “____________s” in your personal style mantra.” With nods to the minimal, and touches of visual irony, the brand has garnered a cult following after several short years in the market.
Feminine, not feminist, is usually the way fashion is described. But for Brooklyn-based emerging designer Suzanne Rae, the two are inextricably linked. Designing for the progressive, modern woman, her minimalist and sophisticated pieces are the strong and delicate all at the same time.
Brother Vellies was founded by Aurora James with the goal of introducing the rest of the world to her favorite traditional African footwear, while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs within Africa. Handmade in South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Morocco, Brother Vellies creates boots, shoes and sandals in styles that maintain the spirit and durability of their ancestral counterparts.
Yuul Yie is a Korean footwear brand by Sunyuul Yie, emphasizing extreme femininity with pale hues and heels inspired by Cézanne and geometric shapes in the nature. She is also creating shoes for Rejina Pyo’s collections.
RAFA is a women’s luxury footwear collection designed and hand-crafted by a group of 20 artisans in Los Angeles, California. Born out of a need for smart and timeless design that transcends trends, RAFA is committed to the use of local craftsmanship combined with top quality materials to create a collection of accessible luxury footwear.
In 2011, the co-founders of LOQ Keren Longkumer and Valerie Quant met while studying footwear design in Los Angeles. They immediately realized their mutual affinity for unconventional forms, proportions, materials and attention to detail. The duo founded LOQ in 2015 with the intention of redefining classics for the modern day woman. LOQ fuses California’s relaxed sensibility with the rich colors and textures of India.
BY FAR is a Bulgarian shoe brand founded in 2015 by long time friends/family Valentina, Sabina and Denitsa, who live on the opposite sides of the world today. Noticing a gap in the market for high quality yet affordable fashion footwear and realizing the potential and great tradition in producing handmade high quality shoes in their own country, the trio launched their collection of shoes. They are designing for women like themselves, shoes that they would want to wear revisiting classic styles and mixing together modern and vintage.
Creative Directors Alan Buanne and Vanissa Antonious have created a collection of contemporary footwear by combining their love of abstract Modernism and clean lines with an appreciation for time-honoured and classical Italian shoemaking traditions. At NEOUS, the duo start the process of perfecting each design using the brand’s exclusive, handcrafted lasts before deciding upon the unexpected and graphic colour combinations that are a NEOUS design signature. Another NEOUS leitmotif is the use of both traditional and innovative materials: handwoven macrame, transparent synthetic, butter-soft suede and supple calfskin.