The world has entered Stage Wear Your Nice Shoes Inside Just To Feel Human Again of the pandemic. While numbers of COVID-19 cases around the United States are back on the rise, months of lockdowns are making people anxious to get back out into the real world, full of pants without elastic waistbands and shoes that buckle.
While accessory designer Justine Clenquet wasn't planning to launch her first shoe collection in the midst of a pandemic, the timing has worked out in her favor. After spending 10 years building up her jewelry brand, Clenquet is taking her skills to footwear in a launch of vintage-inspired shoes.
"For this new Fall 2020 collection, I've been strongly inspired by 1980s working culture, focusing on executive women's wardrobes," she tells NYLON. "The powerful woman plays an important part in my collections. I love to work with strong models for my campaigns and I have always been inspired by iconic women, such as Winona Ryder, Chloë Sevigny, Edie Sedgwick, Grace Jones, and more. I wanted to create contemporary shoes with a vintage aesthetic, so it was important to take a look and understand the shoes' story."
Clenquet launched her eponymous brand 10 years ago when she was just 18 while still a student at Duperré in Paris. Through word of mouth, she developed a group of loyal clients who sought out her vintage-style pieces at an affordable price point.
"I was on my own when I started in 2010, and today we are a team of 11," she says. "My goal was to create affordable yet quality pieces, and this positioning was not really easy at the beginning. In 2010, most of the great stores didn't want to buy fashion jewelry at a low price range, but now everything has shifted. [Now] my brand is sold beside high fashion labels in prestigious stores all around the world."
Eventually, she had the goal of a full accessories line, occasionally creating belts, glasses, and small evening bags. When it came to creating a line of shoes, Clenquet had a vision consistent with her brand, wanting to make affordable, everyday footwear in line with the aesthetic she's built over the past decade. She sought out a design studio in Paris that specializes in shoes to make sure the collection stayed comfortable, while adding her own touches to the designs. The collection includes 12 styles from prices starting at $290 and topping off at $405.
"I wanted to develop a shoes collection in the same spirit of when I started with the jewels: affordable, quality shoes for everyday looks," she explains. "I don't really want to apply directly jewelry on the shoes but more little details, like the Swarovski buckles on the Jane sandals or dark blue glitter on the Kate mary-jane."
The debut collection and accompanying campaign combine both Clenquet's shoes and jewelry for the modern-day Working Girl. Fortunately, you don't have to be commuting to an office to wear it.
See more of Justine Clenquet's new campaign, below, and shop her debut shoe collection on her website.