Meghan Cleary — author of Shoe Are You? — takes us on a journey of concept to creation with her new footwear line MeghanSAYS. ShoeAreYou.com
What attracted you to the footwear industry? I have been obsessed with shoes since I was five when I spotted a pair of baby blue espadrilles with embroidery at KMART with my mom. Shoes have always held a fascination for me even then. I knew just looking at this shoe that if I stepped into that shoe, my life would somehow be different. Fast forward a few years and I’ve learned over and over that is indeed true — shoes are the only fashion item we put on our bodies that have a physiological impact on how we walk, carry ourselves and operate in the world. Now that I am actually in the footwear industry — as opposed to covering the industry from a journalist’s perspective — I am even more excited. It’s an industry filled with some of the greatest, most creative and passionate people I’ve ever met.
What do you know now, that you wish you knew then? Honestly, I’m always learning. I feel like you learn what you are supposed to at the time you are supposed to. I let my curiosity and passion drive me and ask a lot of questions. If I don’t know about something — for instance, trying to figure out a production issues — I usually ask why. That one simple question if you really drill down and continue to ask it — in any situation — will usually give you all the insight you need.
Explain the concept behind MEGHANSAYS: We wanted to do something that no one else was doing in the footwear industry— we ask women what they actually wanted in shoes. From my eight years as a footwear expert, thousands upon thousands of women have poured out their wants, needs, desires and problems when it comes to shoes. We polled women during our design phase, we axed designs that people didn’t like, added materials, etc. People are so excited to buy the shoes now because they were a part of it! We design for a very spirited, fun woman who likes to have fun with her shoes and fashion, but also likes classic lasts or shapes they can return to again and again. We see this in luxury shoe lines all the time — developing those amazing lasts that women fall in love with, giving them something chic, something that fits well, that becomes an evergreen staple in their wardrobe — and in our case for under $200. We also know that fit is crucial. Because of this, we put 5mm of memory and regular foam, and faux suede pillows in the ball of the foot in every shoe. Combined with the lasts, we are really proud of the way the shoes feel when you put them on. We wanted women to feel good in them and feel good about how the shoes looked. That’s really what it’s all about.
Do you think your geographic location has an impact on your design aesthetic? I’m not sure to be honest. I lived in Manhattan for a long time and now I live in LA. I get inspired by so many different geographic locations when I travel as well. Out here I love the sea, the trees, the mountains (we’ve got a leafy palm tree print in our Spring II collection) and when I travel I will see certain details that excite me like a bow tie someone is wearing or the way a girl puts together her outfit on the subway. You never know where you’ll find design inspiration. I try to be open to as many visual treats during the day wherever I am.
What’s in the works for 2016? For next Fall we are going to open up two more lasts — I can’t say yet what they are but you will see a great bootie and a very cool pump in the mix that are new additions. We are also going to continue to deepen our commitment to fun materials, prints, and detailing — look out for a partnership with a brand known for it’s prints! We are also going to expand the way we talk to our end consumers about what they want in shoes, what they are looking for that’s not the market, etc. We can’t wait!