Luxury labels to watch: 5 Footwear brands rejuvenating the heels category
As occasionwear continues on its upward trajectory, the category’s defining footwear is going along with it; heels. As trend-forward customers look towards fancy footwear to tie together an evening outfit, a number of brands have taken it upon themselves to rejuvenate this sector with a fresh take on the heeled shoe style. FashionUnited has brought together some of the labels that are leading the way in this field, making them the ones to watch for the coming year.
Two years on from its launch and London-based footwear brand AM:PM has already gained recognition among media outlets and beyond for its take on elevated, classic designs. The brand’s collection of womenswear shoes look to bring comfort to luxury footwear, with the company itself integrating its core focus on diversity, representation and quality into its offering. It is these qualities that AM:PM’s founder, Edna Konadu, has instilled throughout the brand, and has mirrored in everything from its colour palette to how it operates.
One of AM:PM’s most recent launches is that of its exclusive collection with Saks. Entitled ‘Bound’, the line was dedicated to being accessible for the brand’s US customers, which make up 75 percent of its entire customer base. Among the selection are wedge mules in its signature neutral and nude tones, and lace-up or ankle-strap sandals in more neon hues. Each of the sculptural shoes have been created using both vegan leather and sheep leather, which has been implemented into the linings.
Points of sale
Currently, AM:PM London’s newest collection is only available at Saks Fifth Avenue. While the brand used to operate its own e-commerce site, it is not available at this moment, a move that is likely aimed at keeping the exclusivity around its most recent launch. In an Instagram post on its page, founder Edna Konadu noted that 2022 had been “one of the most testing years”, resulting in the brand not releasing a SS22 collection in order to focus on this most recent line.
Footwear in AM:PM’s Saks line generally stays under the price range of 300 pounds. Its wedge mules with the signature heel retail for 287 pounds, while its strapped sandal heels come in between 265 to 297 pounds.
Pīferi prides itself on its 100 percent vegan footwear, offering a range of pumps, boots, mules, flats and sandals that fall in line with its commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Its products can be recognised through the use of a statement heel, which appear in sculptural forms to create an eye-catching silhouette. The brand puts a particular emphasis on its use of materials, however, stating that it uses a range of bio-based, recycled and “earth-conscious” products in its production method. On its website, Pīferi stated: “Our goal isn’t just to create luxury footwear; we also want to inform our customers about what we believe is the ultimate luxury: the luxury to choose to invest in items that match not only your style, but also your values.”
The Italian brand was established by Alfredo Pīferi, who previously worked as head of design at Jimmy Choo, and also held positions at Burberry and alongside Kanye West. The footwear label initially made its debut at Harrods in 2020, bringing its on-trend looks to the luxury department store on an exclusive basis. Since then, the brand has expanded globally through a retail roll out that has seen it introduced into new markets. Speaking on his design values, Pīferi said on the website: “My designs are streamlined and timeless. In my opinion, sustainable design starts right from the first sketch. When a pair of shoes is timeless it can accompany customers on their unique journey for many years to come and elude disposable trends.”
Points of sale
Pīferi counts a number of large scale retailers among its stockists while also operating its own e-commerce site. In Europe, this includes London’s Harvey Nichols and Browns and Italy’s Silvia Bini. In the US, the likes of Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom hold the brand’s selection in multiple locations, while its footwear can also be found at Bergdorf Goodman and H. Lorenzo. Meanwhile, Pīferi is also included among boutiques in the Middle East, and in the region’s online store Ounass.
Pīferi’s retail prices vary depending on the style category. In its most recent collection, its flat shoes can be found for around 395 pounds, while its pumps range from 475 to 825 pounds, depending on the use of materials and embellishments. Its sandals also distinctly differ in price, with the lowest sitting at 475 pounds, and the highest at 1,425 pounds. This latter price is also closer to the range seen for its boots, which primarily sit between 525 and 1,100 pounds.
Italian footwear brand Iindaco was founded in 2019 with the mission of merging the luxury footwear segment with a circular economic model. The brand was the result of a vision between two designers, Domitilla Rapisardi and Pamela Costantini, who also looked to challenge the way of doing business in the fashion industry. Through their collections, the duo aim to drive an eco-sustainable project that they hope will trickle out into the wider world, with an emphasis on each phase of a product’s life.
According to the brand, all of its shoes, which are typically made for the partywear wardrobe, are created with high quality materials that hold eco-sustainable characteristics, such as recycled and recyclable ABS heels, regenerated leather insoles or biodegradable leather. Additionally, in terms of leather, the hides used mostly depend on the by-product of the meat and dairy industry, with materials selected often deriving from certified processes and “sustainable” tanneries.
For its SS23 collection, Iindaco collaborated with British fashion retailer Browns on a range of sparkly, metallic looks that drew inspiration from the contrast of fire and water. The line, entitled ‘Euphoria’, came as a renewed iteration of a previous collection, aiming to portray a “more sexy and seductive appeal”, a press release read. Among the designs was the Helena boot, created using an eco-friendly patent, and the Circe sabot, which incorporated a crystalised fire design into the heel.
Points of sale
Iindaco has a fairly far-reaching retail network, with various multi-brand retailers stocking its range of the brand’s footwear. In Italy, Luisa Via Roma houses the brand both in-store and online, while France’s Galerie Lafayette and the UK’s Browns and Harvey Nichols do the same. Iindaco can also be found on the likes of Farfetch and Hong Kong’s Goxip, as well as in retailers based in Dubai and the US.
Iindaco’s shoes typically sit within a slim price range. While its heeled sandals, usually found with a kitten heel, come in somewhere between 400 to 700 pounds, its boots retail for around 685 to 820 pounds. Meanwhile, its flatform slip ons appear on its website for 350 pounds.
In contrast to the previous brands, Western Affair brings a completely alternative direction to the party footwear category, namely through the creation of Cowgirl-inspired shoes. Founded by Olivia Pudelko, the luxury footwear brand, based between London and Poland, utilises upcycled, deadstock or vintage materials to create its line, with each shoe made in five to 10 colourways, making them completely individual. Materials are sourced in person by Pudelko, with one of her most recent collections deriving from different storage locations supplying vintage off-cuts and end-of-roll scraps.
Western Affair’s shoe collection ranges from heeled cowgirl mules to distinctive boot designs, many of which mimic cowboy boots, as seen in the use of pointy toes and typical prints and embroidery. To elevate the look, Pudelko rejuvenates the style by adding fresh embellishments, like spikes, bold colour palettes, or surprising materials, giving each of the items a distinct look. Speaking to Vogue, Pudelko said: “I wanted to be less editorial and more wearable, because that’s what brings me more happiness – seeing real people in my shoes.”
Points of sale
In keeping with Western Affair’s limited supply, its shoes are mostly only available through the brand’s own website. However, on occasion, they can also be found at small scale boutiques and independent retailers, such as Annie’s Ibiza and Auné.
Western Affair’s retail prices tend to come into the lower price range of the luxury segment. The brand’s boots, which utilise deadstock materials and, sometimes, sheep skin, can be found for prices between 335 and 460 pounds. Meanwhile, its heels, including its range of mules and sandals, have prices ranging from 100 to 300 pounds. Many of these items are often only available in a very limited supply.
Icelandic accessory brand Kalda is another to take on the footwear trend in a completely individualistic way. Founded by Kata Alda in 2016, the brand’s production process is centred around a factory in Portugal, where all of its shoes are made. The female-led operation boasts a majority female workforce of 30, many of whom the brand said have worked there for over 20 years. Meanwhile, like others on the list, its footwear is made using byproduct leather. In this case, Kalda has used BioVeg, a product line made using recycled polyester from plastic bottles and bio polyols.
Last year, Kalda was at the forefront of a number of ‘viral’ online moments, namely for its Bux Denim Jean Boots, which had been spotted on Julia Fox, model Elsa Hosk and various TikTok influencers. The shoes themselves tied neatly into the DIY trend dominating social media at the time, and catapulted the brand into the view of Gen Z shoppers. Next to boots, the brand also offers mules and sandals, which can often be seen with Kalda’s signature peek-a-boo cut-out. A range of handbags are also available through the label.
Points of sale
Kalda operates out of both its own e-commerce shop and a store in Reykjavik, Iceland. However, it can also be found in the stock of a number of online luxury retailers, including Farfetch, YOOX, Italist, Goxip and ModeSens. Meanwhile, a selection of Kalda shoes are further available in small-scale or independent retailers, such as Fashiola and The Maison Muguet.
Kalda’s court shoes and mules typically retail for prices between 100 to 400 pounds, depending on the materials used and complexity of the style. Its ankle boots, including iterations with cut-outs and buckles, sit between 350 and 450 pounds, while its calf-length and over-the-knee boots come in a similar price range. Its sandals, on the other hand, are at a lower price of 310 pounds. Kalda’s selection of bags sit at similar price points to its shoes. While its belt bags retail for around 260 pounds, its shoulder bags can be found for just over 380 pounds.