Live your dreams and love Ruthie Davis shoes!
Celebrity shoe designer Ruthie Davis is the Creative Director and President of her eponymous label. Based in New York City, Ms Davis’ collection is sold at prestigious retailers worldwide including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Harvey Nichols, Luisa Via Roma and 10 Corso Como, spanning over 35 countries and 100 locations.
Since launching in 2006, Davis has been a top choice of celebs and fashionistas, including Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Sophia Vergara, Karolina Kurkova, Jessica Chastain, Emma Roberts, Naomi Campbell and many more.
Describe the general process you go through to conceptualise and design a pair of shoes.
I am inspired by the world around me – my life. It’s always a combination of things that touches me and drives me to a certain overall theme or look for a season. I’m always working on my collection in my mind, but then for a few weeks each season, I totally immerse myself in images and architecture and places that are exciting me at the time. Then, I just put pen to paper and create the collection. After that, my team in Italy that includes my technician, makes the first prototype with the pattern maker and heel maker and last maker. After I approve the prototype, my design assistant and I choose the colours, materials and detailing for the shoes. We spec out each style and wait for the final Ruthie Davis sample. My sales team uses these samples to sell the collection to stores, and then we go into production and make the shoes that you will see in a store near you!
When did you realise your desire to become involved in the footwear industry?
There’s a quintessential story about when I was a little girl that always sticks in my mind. My mother took me shopping for my first pair of shoes at age four. I will never forget, they were red patent leather Mary-Jane’s and I refused to take them off. I even went to bed with them on. I suppose that’s where the love story began. I actually was also very interested in marketing and sports and my first job in the industry was at Reebok. I quickly realised that I enjoyed designing the shoes the most and the rest is history. The dream to start my own brand someday was beginning to take form.
What elements do you believe make your designs unique?
I believe that a Ruthie Davis shoe looks like nothing else in the market. My brand DNA is a combination of sleek minimalism, edginess, sport, sexy and youthful. The Ruthie Davis Girl is a healthy, happy combination of glamour, prep, and James Bond Girl… She’s a unique mixture. I don’t look to shoes from the past for inspiration. I want to design shoes that have never been made before. I love futurism and innovation.
“The Ruthie Davis Girl is a healthy, happy combination of glamour, prep, and James Bond Girl… She’s a unique mixture.”
How would you define the Ruthie Davis style?
I always say that the Ruthie Davis “look” is BIG hair, BIG shoes, and a BIG SMILE. The Ruthie Davis Girl is daring and modern with a touch of edge… she is happily in control. The look is “less is more” – an aerodynamic and form fitted look everywhere except your shoes. The shoes are the star of the outfit. Actually the shoes and the girl in the shoes are the stars of the Ruthie Davis Look!
Who are some of your favourite brands / designers and why?
I love Moncler because it is high quality, fashion sport, sexy and functional all at the same time. Balenciaga bags are my all time favorite. They are edgy yet classy and timeless cool. For dresses, right now I love Anthony Vaccarello – his designs are sporty and sexy and modern all at once. He also uses a lot of black, which is my favorite colour. And from the high street, I love All Saints. They make the absolute best-fitted leather jackets.
From personal experience, where are the best places to gain fashion / design skill, knowledge and understanding?
Before starting my own brand, I worked for several other brands, honing my skills across the board. I worked in marketing and design for years before launching my Ruthie Davis. For me, working for large companies, seeing how they operate, and cutting my teeth on the business of fashion was the perfect balance for my creativity. It also afforded me the skills and confidence I needed when it was time to forge off on my own. There is no substitute for paying your dues and learning about the business, which includes sales, marketing, merchandising, production, etc. I always say, running a fashion brand is 10% design and 90% running a business.
What advice do you have for aspiring footwear designers?
My advice to aspiring footwear designers is to realise that there is a lot to learn about the footwear business that will make you a better footwear designer. It’s important to understand all of the facets of the business in order to design a shoe that is sellable, wearable, on trend, hits the right price point, etc. While you’re young, it’s important to learn and soak up as much as possible. There’s a tremendous amount that goes into launching and sustaining a shoe brand and there’s no better way to learn than from working for other footwear brands before launching your own. In addition, to be a successful footwear designer in a large company, you also need to learn and understand all of the areas of the business because shoe designing is never in a vacuum. The selling, marketing, branding and design of a shoe are all intertwined.