Mod­ern­iz­ing Mephisto

There is a good rea­son why her lat­est busi­ness bears her name — de­signer Amina Muaddi is fi­nally do­ing it all her way.

Footwear News - - CONTENTS - By STEPHANIE HIRSCHMILLER

CEO James Row­ley opens his play­book.

Not many peo­ple can claim two suc­cess­ful footwear la­bels by the age of 32, but that’s just how Amina Muaddi rolls. Hav­ing left Os­car Tiye (the brand she co-founded at 25), the de­signer this year launched her self-ti­tled col­lec­tion.

It de­buted for fall ’18, of­fi­cially an ex­tended cap­sule dubbed “Sea­son Zero.” “In my head, it was more a non­sea­sonal see-now, buynow drop be­cause I wanted peo­ple to get ac­quainted with my brand,” she said.

It cer­tainly did that. Muaddi’s hero mar­tini glass flared heel was in­stantly snapped up by Browns, Net-a-Porter, FWRD by Elyse Walker and Level Shoes.

Level’s Al­berto Oliv­eros dubbed the col­lec­tion a re­flec­tion of Muaddi her­self: “Beau­ti­ful and bold,” he said, not­ing that Level is the ex­clu­sive re­tailer in the Mid­dle East re­gion, “and the re­sponse was ex­cel­lent.”

“It’s an ex­tremely strong first solo col­lec­tion,” agreed Ida Peters­son, Browns wom­enswear buy­ing di­rec­tor. “I love how Amina plays with pro­por­tions. Her new heel de­signs look fresh and give an edgier feel to clas­sic sil­hou­ettes like her satin slingbacks.” As for the cus­tomer re­sponse, she added: “It went far be­yond what we’d an­tic­i­pated. She has a re­ally bright fu­ture ahead.”

For Muaddi, it’s a deeply per­sonal pro­ject in which she’s been fully in­volved at ev­ery step. “I wanted to cre­ate a brand I could com­pletely iden­tify with and that rep­re­sented who I am to­day,” she said. And she’s done it her way: from pro­duc­tion to choos­ing clients to com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

The see-now, buy-now for­mat is a prime ex­am­ple — one she’s ex­tend­ing to spring ’19. “Nowa­days, we are flooded with prod­uct info and im­agery, so by the time some­thing ac­tu­ally goes on sale, we’re al­ready over it be­fore we’ve even bought it or worn it,” she said. “I’m a spon­ta­neous per­son, so I want to get peo­ple’s first re­ac­tion, not their 10th, so when they see some­thing and like it, they can pur­chase it.”

For fall, she also kept dis­tri­bu­tion strictly lim­ited, re­ject­ing a great deal of re­tail in­ter­est. Her goal was to keep the prod­uct niche while gen­er­at­ing ex­cite­ment.

For the up­com­ing sea­son, how­ever, Muaddi is work­ing with around 40 re­tail­ers, in­clud­ing Hir­sh­leifers in the U.S., Har­rods Lon­don, An­to­nia Italy and Paris’ new Ga­leries Lafayette on the Champs-Elysées. This marks growth of some 300 per­cent for her la­bel.

Her col­lec­tion has grown as well and will com­prise 70 SKUs for spring ’19, among them three new heel sil­hou­ettes: a su­per­high plat­form, a sculp­tural take on her sig­na­ture flared stiletto and a 4-cen­time­ter ver­sion that she calls her “flat.” The ma­te­ri­als and col­or­ways run the gamut from raw to su­per­nat­u­ral, in­clud­ing linens and sandy desert hues to PVC and holo­gram glit­ter. There’s a lot of trans­parency, Muaddi said, with many of the styles look­ing as if they are sus­pended on the foot.

“I’m ob­sessed with the vinyl slingbacks,” added Peters­son. (Both she and Browns Fash­ion CEO Holli Rogers have fall ’18 styles named af­ter them, re­spec­tively a slouch boot and a holo­graphic heel.)

For Muaddi, it’s been quite a jour­ney. “When I started Os­car Tiye, I was a kid — I was in­ex­pe­ri­enced and thought of it more as a game. I was just lucky it was suc­cess­ful,” she said, adding that this time around, she’s more ma­ture. “I’ve been able to choose ev­ery­thing from A to Z, a lux­ury I never had at 25.”

The Begum satin slingback

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