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Close-Up preview: Q&A with Kat Maconie

Drapers gives you an exclusive preview of this week’s Close-Up with Kat Maconie, designer and director at the eponymous footwear label.

Did you always want to design footwear?

Not really, but I did think there was a gap in the footwear market. It started off as a comfort brand, doing ballet pumps with comfort insoles. After I moved our production to Brazil after the first season, it turned out that a pump and a heel were pretty much the same price to produce, and you can retail a heel much more easily than you can a pump in the market, so we’ve gone from comfort heels to 14.5cm platforms. But I love the element of keeping focused on fit and comfort, even though they are very high.

Do you adhere to the standard seasons?

Yes, we just do spring and autumn, so we work with the two seasons. Ultimately I’d like to introduce more but I really wanted to cement myself with those first. I don’t really hold stock for in-season orders either. My agents are already talking about doing more collections in the US. We also have potential to grow in Brazil, where I am in about 30 stores, but Brazilians basically want a new collection every month.

Is it harder to be transitional when it comes to footwear?

We’re finding winter quite tough as we have to develop a whole new range for Brazil because there’s only a small part of the country that really has a winter. There are all sorts of development costs in producing a different range for them.

Which is the best trade show for the footwear market?

It’s so hard to really determine which trade fair is going to work for you. Occasionally you get a buyer that comes in and falls in love with the brand and has never heard of it before - that’s how I’ve generated most of my business. Premiere Classe is like a little black book of buyers, with every major footwear buyer in the world. They’re very selective about who they let in there too. But, it is at the end of the season so you don’t see the benefits of it sometimes until the next season when they come back, or they’ll contact you earlier on the next season and say they want to buy.

What advice would you have a for new footwear designers?

You have to create an identity for yourself, that’s really key. High street retailers like Topshop and Kurt Geiger are both good on design and well-made, so you’ve got so much to compete against. If you’re more expensive than those brands you’ve really got to stand out.

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