The ongoing hunt for the latest in inspirational shoe design has brought us to the heart of Stockholm, where The Shoise Initiative of Sweden has been quietly but steadily flourishing.

Shoise was founded by designers Petra Högström and Matilda Maroti, who met while attending the Swedish School of Textiles—two students working toward their dream of becoming clothing designers. After graduating, they spent their days working at what they describe as “very commercial” fashion companies, collaborating in their free time on their own art projects. It was the result of one of these projects that led to the inception of Högström and Maroti’s interest in shoe design.

“We did our first handmade shoes for an exhibition and we got a lot of attention for them,” says Maroti. “This was when we realized how much we enjoyed working with shoes.” “We felt that it was a more sculptural way of working compared to clothes,” adds Högström. “We also realized at that point that we didn’t want to work in the super commercial world. We love working with ‘slow design’ where you have time to be experimental, creative and to push the border between art and fashion.”
That idea of “slow design” is the overarching philosophy of Shoise, evident as Högström and Maroti focus on giving life to their creative impulses and trying out every new idea that pops into their heads. “We feel very free in our design,” says Högström. “We give ourselves the pleasure of [taking] every idea and pushing it to its limit. We hope to inspire other designers to do the same.”

Interestingly, the biggest inspiration behind the pair’s incredible designs comes from the materials themselves. “We love finding inspiration in unexpected materials for shoes, such as the shoe [“Re-Motion”] that we made with recycled motor parts,” says Maroti. “We are also very fascinated by shapes, forms and silhouettes,” says Högström. “We love the part in our design process where we can work very experimentally and kind of build the shoes piece by piece until we find the right silhouette.”

As a result, every shoe the duo creates, from “White Owl,” made of ceramic and vegetable tanned leather, to “Melt Down,” created from recycled materials, rubber and a second hand doll, is a breathtaking work of art. But Högström and Maroti are adamant that they do not intend for all of their pieces to be kept behind glass, citing musicians Madonna, Jessie J and Robyn as potential dream customers.

“The first collection was very much art pieces, since the aim was a big art exhibition,” says Maroti. “But the collection we are working on now will be a little bit more wearable [while] still having the same expression and uniqueness. We will also work in more exclusive materials, which we hope will inspire more people to wear them.”

It seems inevitable that a new fan base and clientele is right around the corner for Shoise, as the designers revel in their recent success. Perhaps even more impressive, the pair is currently working on a new exhibition of their work that will be held in Stockholm, where celebrated designers like Jean-Paul Gaultier will also be showing. Moving forward though, Högström and Maroti are most concerned with staying true to their design objectives and getting their work to like-minded shoe enthusiasts.

“We are always looking for new customers who want to express themselves through our shoes,” says Högström. “We [would] love to see customers in show business, but another goal is to make runway shoes for big conceptual fashion brands like McQueen or Prada. [But] we want to keep Shoise unique and exclusive, so we are not looking for any mass production.”

Impeccably designed and curated shoes for a select clientele of true shoes-as-art obsessives? It looks like Shoise is poised to fulfill our deepest fashion desires, one heel at a time. — KERRI JAREMA