Design Inspiration: The Making of a Shoe

Posted by Tamar Miller on

After 25 years working in retail merchandising, I’ve developed a discerning eye and a keen understanding of what the consumer wants. I am a woman making shoes for women. I am not a designer, but I am an expert at product curation – finding the hidden gems in a crowded marketplace and pulling together an assortment that is going to resonate with customer needs. I’m bringing that curation approach to Bells & Becks.

The product vision for Bells & Becks was inspired by my years as a professional shoe merchant and discriminating shopper. I saw the opportunity to build a collection of distinctive and chic luxury flats that would be wearable for women with a busy lifestyle that require versatility in their wardrobe. I also honed-in on the idea of sophisticated femininity. I set out to build a line of shoes that is distinctive, high quality, and delivers on versatility and modern femininity – a rare combination today.

When I visited one of the factories I decided to work with, I was excited because they were already executing on shoes that fit my point of view. I sifted through hundreds of styles to get ideas of what I was looking for, and I suddenly found this one style that gave me an idea:

The original shoe was sampled in suede with a kitten heel and ankle strap, but it had a super feminine line. It inspired me to think about how the concept of the tab could be applied to a wearable flat. I was looking to do something in a grainy leather that would lend itself to something super versatile, and I liked the idea of applying the “tab” detail to a more simple and easy pointy toe flat.

I gave the factory the material and color direction. My first samples came back looking a bit crude, but there was something that worked. It was going in a good direction, but the details weren’t executed perfectly. The “tab” detail was sewn in and the stitching was visible. It didn’t have the sleek and feminine line of the original inspirational sample. Though I love rose gold for the season, and pink it super important, I didn’t love the contrast of the grainy rose gold tab.

Once the final version arrived, I knew I had something that felt like it was in the sweet spot of what I was going for in terms of the aesthetic – sleek design, clean and modern, but totally versatile. The grainy leather added an element of casual to an otherwise “dressy” silhouette which meant that this was a great dress up/dress down shoe. The gold heel added another special element that was a beautiful and unexpected contrast, especially against the pale pink.

And so… the “Lia” was born (Italian translation: “bringer of good news”), which is exactly how I felt when I received the final samples... good news because the shoe is perfect – sleek, wearable, feminine and embodies Bells & Becks perfectly.

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