London footwear designer Alexander White puts his best foot forward with his eponymous line of heavenly heels.
What attracted you to footwear design? Initially, I had planned to study architecture, but at the last minute I changed my application to Design and Applied Arts. I specialized in fashion, and noticed that I was more excited about designing the shoes and the ‘look,’ than the actual clothes. After graduating, I made the switch and enrolled at Cordwainers College.
What’s your design philosophy? To create chic, elegant shoes with a youthful twist.
What do you love most about being a footwear designer? The realization of your ideas and dreams. It’s always been about creating, and I still get excited when new designs come in from the factory. I’m currently sketching my new collection and when I get an idea; usually in the shower, I get so excited about what’s about to come.
What are three things you know now, that you wish you knew when you started out? In terms of design, there’s not much that has shocked me. The biggest learning curve has been on the business side. I’d have to say I knew it would be hard, but it’s harder. I wish I had known how supportive some people in the industry can be. Sara Maino and Vogue Italia have been so fantastic. Finally, I wish I knew how difficult it is to balance all of my work. From working in a design team to starting off being the Lone Ranger has been trying, but luckily I have a good network of people who have been so kind.
Can comfort and style coexist in footwear? Definitely. I think it’s a disservice to the customer if you don’t consider the comfort. For me, good design consists of not only aesthetic design but how well a product serves its purpose. If a designer creates shoes that are painful, then the purpose isn’t being met and therefore the design fails because the shoes will be admired and never worn. However, quality comes into play with all design.
I recently made a bespoke pair of wedding shoes. At the end of the wedding, the bride was still wearing my shoes, she had been dancing all night without a problem. While the bridesmaids wore cheaper shoes and had to take them off because of the pain. For me, that means a lot. She’s since bought two pairs of shoes from me.
What exciting developments do you have in the works? The whole AltaRoma Vogue Italia Who is On Next? experience was incredible, and I’m very much looking forward to Milan fashion week.