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In the Showroom: Nina Originals

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When Nina Footwear launched Nina Originals in 2013, to coincide with its 60th anniversary, the concept was simple: Take important styles from the brand’s past and revive them for the millennial consumer. Two years later, Nina Originals, led by Creative Director Flori Silverstein, is a full-fledged collection of dress, work and casual footwear with a look all its own.

“Nina Originals is a lifestyle brand, so we think of how our customer lives and offer her shoes for work, play and beyond,” Silverstein explained.

The brand’s strength lies in Silverstein’s ability to make old feel new. Mid-heel pumps are refreshed with color blocking or printed suede; classic espadrilles get a playful touch of bandanna materials; metallic heels are opened up with lattice-inspired uppers. And some styles are evergreen. The Smile crochet flat, which Silverstein says has five star reviews for comfort, has been offered now on several heel heights because customers want more.

But what’s a designer, with access to an enviable archive and heritage to pull from, to do when the rest of the fashion footwear industry also looks to the past for inspiration?

Silverstein says it is more of a question of mood and energy. “What makes that shoe fabulous? Why are girls responding now to the wide banded sandals and suedes and velvets from the ’70s? It certainly has to do with the change in the ready-to-wear silhouette,” she said. “With longer lines and wide bottom pants, you need higher heels and stronger bottoms to balance the silhouette. The ’70s styling is a look of confident individuality that holds a great appeal right now,” she explained.

VIEW GALLERY: Spring '16 Nina Originals
VIEW GALLERY: Spring ’16 Nina Originals

For Spring ’16, Silverstein and her team have been motivated by color, incorporating an airy palette of neutrals and soft colors. “We are presenting sun-washed corals, khakis and blues that look great with our textile interest—fringes, crochet, woven cotton cord and other handwork and materializations. People appreciate the hand-made, unique detailing that gives the collection an artisanal look,” Silverstein said.

The brand takes a tactile approach to the ongoing ’70s trend with patchwork suede and sandals with woven cotton cord in dusty shades of olive and purple. On the casual end, the brand is focused on unique espadrilles, twisted leather straps and all kinds of lacing.

Pumps with a basket weave pattern silk-screened on suede—a novelty leather printed locally on Long Island—and tailored day silhouettes are the brand’s answer for women who wear Nina Originals for work. Silverstein added, “We are presenting romantic, floral print cottons and polished pointy toe pumps with kitten to mid heels, perfect for commuting, then wearing out on a date after work.”

A smattering of oversize Swarovski crystals wakes things up. The baubles are a nod to Nina Footwear’s history in the special occasion market and a continuation of Nina’s partnership with the crystal house, which began this year with jewelry. The tight sandal collection speaks to consumers on both casual and dress levels. On flat brown leather sandals, the crystals are a sparkling alternative to bohemian beading, meanwhile the rock-like gems have a warrior princess effect on metallic heels.

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