Brit shoe designers steal a march on New York

British shoes designers like Nicholas Kirkwood and Charlotte Olympia are now well established alongside New Yorkers' favourite shoemakers . . .

New York - surely the spiritual home of fashion shoe fetishists. It’s an enduring image; Carrie Bradshaw’s love affair with Manolos, Anne Hathaway teetering along in The Devil Wears Prada or Blake Lively dressed to the nines complete with spindle-heeled colourful pumps in Gossip Girl. According to WWD, the real-life equivalent of these fictional fashionistas have happily welcomed up-and-coming shoe designers, Nicholas Kirkwood, Charlotte Olympia and Tabitha Simmons into their wardrobes and their hearts.

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Although pairs by the likes of Manolo Blahnik, Jimmy Choo, Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Louboutin are no less popular, style savvy customers have embraced the more edgy and inventive designs from our own London designers. 'People are seeking out extreme fashion from footwear selections, [so] we need them from a merchandise perspective to add newness but also from a business point of view,' said Saks Fifth Avenue fashion director Elizabeth Kanfer, adding that such newer brands are ‘becomes less emerging and more of a substantial part of our sales.’

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Nicholas Kirkwood’s very sculptural wedge booties are now up there in Saks best-seller chart, as trend-hungry New Yorkers pay upwards of $1000 a pair for them, causing store bosses to look at rolling them out to other US locations as soon as possible. Ken Downing, Neiman Marcus fashion director and senior vice president, believes that today’s shoppers don’t worry about brand loyalty as much as having the ultimate in cool style. ‘The Neiman Marcus shopper is trend-curious and seeks immediate “credit” in her wardrobe — and she’s attracted to a pair of shoes that she doesn’t have. These women know the silhouettes and colours that are trending and they want these new shoes immediately, and it’s not as important who the designer is'.

So, even though the Kirkwoods and Olympias may not be household names in the USA, it may not be much longer until they are.

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