There are 2 questions that I have been asked continuously since I started my own shoe brand over 10 years ago. The first is always, “Why shoe design?” and the follow up is, “What sources do you look to for inspiration, trends, and style?” So I figured it was time to put the answers to paper.
“Why shoe design?”
I was always oddly obsessed with The Shoe Hunt. I recently told a friend a story about being a short 12 year old boy and wanting a pair of neon green split tongue Asics that all the older kids were wearing. We searched for them for weeks, driving town to town (pre-internet obviously), basically visiting every running store on the East Coast. In the end, I found a women’s pair that matched the men’s version exactly and let’s just say I didn’t mention that part at school.
This is just one example of many such explorations. Once I get something in my head that I have to have, I endeavor until I find it. I don’t own 100’s of pairs of shoes; I own 6 pairs that I truly love and cherish.
As for turning that passion into my livelihood. . . As a kid, I wanted to be a “businessman.” So, in some ways, I guess that has been fulfilled; I own my own business and get great satisfaction from that, but the best part is the outlet for creativity and design. I came to that realization much later on and love that aspect of my professional life more than anything.
“What sources do you look to for inspiration, trends, and style?”
I look to so many places for trend and style insight. Lately, people watching in
Grand Central as I pass through morning and night has become more enlightening and meaningful than shopping in stores or reading magazines and blogs (when perusing, however, I read Monocle, Purple Magazine, FrenchVogue, Business of Fashion, Refinery 29, Apartamento, Pernille Teisbaek, and The New York Times T Style Magazine). In Grand Central, there is such a cross-section of people, all in one place and dressed for success. There are the Upstate New Yorkers, the Connecticut Crew (Cutters), the Westchesters, and you get the Manhattanites as well.
A slower pace and using some of my waiting time to just process what people are wearing lets me know exactly what is happening right now in day-to-day fashion. The sheer volume of people means I can see thousands of shoes walk past in a small span of time. Yes, I am the weirdo giving strangers the up-and-down (but never above the knee). Most exciting of all is seeing Matt Bernson shoes “in the wild.”To see a woman wearing a shoe of mine is the ultimate thrill and inspires me to create even more options that she will choose above all else to wear on any given day.