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I’m excited to introduce you to Hope for Flowers x Naturalizer, a responsibly designed and produced shoe collection! There's a bevy of beauties here and I hope you love them! Each style is beautifully made, consciously created, responsibly produced, joyful and comfortable!
Tracy's Naturalizer Mood Board
I have always loved designing shoes, I think it's a natural extension of designing clothes. I think most clothing designers are envisioning that perfect shoe with the clothing we design. I always designed runway shoes to go with our Runway Collections. We had a shoe license and I got to learn so much about shoe production and development. I traveled all over Italy to the tanneries and the last makers. It was an incredible experience learning to design shoes and meeting the wonderful craftspeople that do everything from carving a heel from scratch out of wood to duplicating that unique heel in a 3D printer. There is a lot of technical expertise that goes into the crafting of every shoe. I love sketching and envisioning the colors and patterns, but I really love knowing what goes into the making of shoes and taking that into account when I'm envisioning what I want to design.
When I was designing this spring shoe collection I was really inspired by all of my favorite things: rich, glorious, joyful colors, patterns that I felt not only work just for this year but could be really special and perfect for years to come and finally, silhouettes that were outstanding yet really comfortable and accessible. I can't wear high heels anymore… I mean I can, but I don't! I'm always looking for that “just right” shoe that looks special enough and dressed up enough to go to an event or a luncheon or even to dinner but is also comfortable. I have been in situations where I'm at a black-tie event and my shoes are killing me and it's so difficult to enjoy the evening, so comfort was front and center.
For silhouettes, I wanted to come up with designs that are right for the moment but will be great next year or the year after and really expressed Hope for Flowers. For Firecracker, Sunflower and Flora, I wanted to bring some dressmaker details into the designs so they have beautiful frills made from a nice crunchy taffeta. Firecracker also has an elasticated strap which is super comfortable. Pattern is one of our signatures and I definitely wanted prints incorporated in the collection. We resized and recolored some archival prints and created some new prints to round out the story. That kind of says it all for me. These are fun shoes that I'm so excited to wear! I know that I can go to functions in these shoes and people will look at my shoes and say, “what are those and where can I get them?”! It was a great project to look at the challenges that we all face with footwear and bring our desires to the challenges to create something unique.
I really didn't know that much about how the shoe industry is approaching responsible design and production. Working with both Natelle Baddeley and Angelique Joseph at Naturalizer was a real education for me. We're using sports soles that are composed using a percentage of recycled materials, post-consumer waste that is cleaned up off of the beaches and incorporated into shoe soles. The leathers that we are using for the footbeds, and the uppers are all responsibly sourced. Naturalizer is working with tanneries that have very responsible tanning practices and that's extremely important. A lot of the other uppers are made from recycled materials including the incredible taffeta used for the frilled shoes. Our printed twill is on organic cotton. The process is similar to our approach to clothing design. We want to make sure each component of the product is as responsible as possible. I learned a lot from working with the excellent team at Naturalizer.
Another beautiful thing about this collection is Naturalizer is graciously donating a percentage of sales to NEST. I sit on the board of Nest, www.buildanest.org. It's a nonprofit that works globally to elevate, enhance, and support the work of craftspeople and hand workers in all of the clothing and craft Industries. They do incredible work and I am proud to play even a tiny role. It's great to know that I can make a contribution to Nests’ wonderful work through this collaboration.
Nest Global Artisans with their crafts, and Nest founder Rebecca Van Bergen in India
As you may or may not know, Hope for Flowers is based in my hometown Detroit, Michigan. Part of my mission here is to work with local artisans and craftspeople collaborating with people who are starting out their design careers and people who are on the path to creating sustainable businesses and also people who are learning the craft of fashion. There's an excellent fashion program at the College for Creative Studies right here in Detroit. They have graduated many talented people that have gone into design fields in architecture, product design, automotive design, motorcycle design the list goes on and on. CCS launched a fashion accessories design program about 5 years ago and they're making shoes right here in Detroit! Students are learning how to cobble shoes, how to design shoes, handbags, belts, you name it and this year they layered in attire. As a member of the board for the Fashion and Accessories program, I especially wanted to support the students. I thought it would be wonderful if a student from CCS could collaborate with us on some illustrations to help promote the collection. We had a competition and a scholarship was given by Naturalizer to the winning student!
We wanted to bring this back home and be very intentional about the whole process of design. Being able to share that process with students as well as our wider audience is super important and I think everybody had a good time!
Artwork by scholarship winner Kaitlin Roth.