Charlotte Mills remembers designing shoes as a little girl at her grandmother’s house. Her drawings were fun and imaginative—a precursor to the styles in Mills’ eponymous line of ultra-girly and whimsical wedding and party shoes.
Since launching in April 2014, Mills’ shoes have earned a special place in women’s hearts, gracing wedding aisles across England. Each bridal shoe is hand-finished with a silver sixpence and a leather sole embossed with the phrase “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in her shoe.” Mills says brides love this old tradition and it has become a signature of the brand.
“I wanted to create something different to what was already on the market—brides should fall in love with their wedding shoes and not just settle.”
Having opened her first brick-and-mortar store in March 2016 in the U.K., Mills is just beginning. She now boasts over 50 stocklists across the globe, and hopes to bring her shoes to even more people through expanding to department stores and independent retailers alike. For Spring ’17, Mills has her eyes set on breaking into the U.S. market with a new collection of ready-to-wear footwear.
Drawing inspiration from Cuba, the collection features brightly colored woven wedges, flashes of bright pink and touches of gold.
As Mills explained, her customers are women “who let their shoes do the talking.”
VAMP: Why do you produce your shoes in Spain?
Mills: All our shoes are handcrafted in Alicante, Spain. This way of working important to us. Many of the traditional techniques are still used in the factory and we combine these with modern practices. We have used embroidery, appliqué and plating for this collection. We are constantly looking for new and different techniques and I spend a lot of time in Spain checking out suppliers to find these as well as interesting fabrics, leathers and heels.
“Brides should fall in love with their wedding shoes and not just settle.”
VAMP: How did hearts become a signature?
Mills: For the first collection, I incorporated a love heart into the design of each style. This was more obvious on some shoes than others. From there it became a part of the Charlotte Mills signature look. As the line develop, we have included other styles but hearts are still very much part of the collection.
VAMP: Tell us more about the Spring ’17 collection.
Mills: For this collection, I studied Vintage Havana—its fashion and design from the art deco and art nouveau eras. I love the architecture and style of this time and the fact it’s still relevant today. I also love current fashion and style so it’s amazing to create designs with a mix of the old and the new.
VAMP: What made you want to expand outside of wedding shoes?
Mills: We found after our customer wore our shoes for their wedding day they continued to support and follow the brand as it continued to grow—wearing some of our colored styles for special occasions. So, ready-to-wear seemed to be the natural next step for us. It’s great to use color and more fashion forward silhouettes which previously may not have been suited to the collection.
VAMP: You also design handbags. Do you like the matchy-matchy look?
Mills: I am all about accessories—if you have a matching bag and shoes you can wear it with anything and it ties the look together. I wanted to design wedding shoes that can be worn again and having a matching bag makes it much easier.