Five Ques­tions

The newly ap­pointed cre­ative di­rec­tor of Bernardo shares her take on the brand’s de­sign her­itage.

Footwear News - - CONTENTS - By Nikara Johns

Heather Wil­liams shares her de­sign vi­sion for Bernardo.


How did you come to join the Bernardo team? “I started con­sult­ing as a de­signer in Jan­uary 2017. Peter Grue­terich, [pres­i­dent of brand man­age­ment firm Peter Mar­cus Group], had given me the reins and now has let me run with it, start­ing this past sum­mer. I’m look­ing at im­agery and how we are sell­ing a brand with a big his­tory and telling that story not just through the shoes but through their back­ground.”


What is your main goal as cre­ative di­rec­tor? “Ex­pand­ing be­yond and lay­er­ing onto the core as­sort­ment. We are known as a flat-san­dal brand, [but] we’ve had suc­cess with mid-heels and have a great core bootie. It’s tak­ing these ideas that have worked and cre­at­ing a year-round lifestyle brand. Plus, some of the core [san­dals] are so rel­e­vant. The goal is not to iso­late the cur­rent cus­tomer but to get ac­cess to a broader cus­tomer. The brand has that weight, where [gen­er­a­tions] can all find some­thing that they like.”


How will you con­nect to Bernardo’s her­itage? “The orig­i­nal de­signer, [Bernard Rud­of­sky], was an ar­chi­tect and a pain­ter. He was very in­ter­ested in ge­om­e­try and mod­ern shapes. My own de­sign aes­thetic [is sim­i­lar], so this was a nat­u­ral fit. Through­out the col­lec­tion, you’ll see unique heel and buckle shapes — slight nu­ances that thread that line to­gether. And there are also plays on trans­parency, with hints of Lucite and mesh. When you look back at the archives, [the looks] are re­ally rel­e­vant.”


Where do you find in­spi­ra­tion? “[I fol­low] sea­sonal trends, but also take time as a con­sumer to re­search what’s out there — and frankly, I think about what I want to buy, be­cause there’s too much prod­uct out there now. I also try to fol­low where we are sell­ing on­line, and read the re­views. At An­thro­polo­gie, we have a 22-re­view, five-star rat­ing across the board on fit and com­fort. Those cus­tomers are all dif­fer­ent ages, so [the prod­uct is] res­onat­ing.”


Which cat­e­gories of­fer the most growth op­por­tu­nity? “We are do­ing in­ter­est­ing plays on the san­dal. The Mi­ami is our most rec­og­nized style, and we’ve blocked it into in­ter­est­ing col­ors. It could be a beach san­dal, and it could be some­thing you can dress up, too. That padded footbed and the heavy stitch is unique to Bernardo, so you’ll see that in other cat­e­gories, as well. The rain­boot cat­e­gory has been great, so we are do­ing a hiker ver­sion. What I love about the cat­e­gory is, it’s at an en­try price point and in­tro­duces the brand [to re­tail­ers] and segues into the fash­ion as­pect. We are get­ting in­ter­est from in­de­pen­dent stores that aren’t fa­mil­iar with the brand or the price point, and they are blown away. The boots are dif­fer­ent than what you see out in the mar­ket. They have unique de­tails.”

Bernardo spring ’19

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