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Year in Review: 5 Designers to Watch

Some of the best shoe designers come from unexpected backgrounds. In 2015, we met a documentary maker with a passion for elegant footwear, a surgeon who set out to make dress footwear comfortable and an engineer with a fearless eye for color.

Here’s a look back and some of the up-and-coming designers to watch in 2016.

Dolapo Otunla

Dolapo Otunla was born in Nigeria, currently resides in the U.K. and travels across the world for her luxury footwear line, Oysby, but she designs in the universal language of “cool-ture.” It’s a concept she’s created for women to express their most eccentric style dreams.

“When I think of the Oysby woman, I think of simplicity with character. I think of women that want to tip the scale, light a fire, break boundaries, run the world and [stay] true to themselves while doing all these things,” she described. Read more…

Najeeba Hayat

Liudmila, a brand that has been lauded for its fantastical designs, was, appropriately, begun on little more than a dream. Najeeba Hayat was a recent college graduate with a government degree and an intensive shoe-making course at Ars Sutoria under her belt when she started Liudmila in 2013. She experienced a rare breed of instant success with major media outlets delighting over her “princess shoes” and adding her styles to fashion roundups. Read more…

Mashizan Masjum

Mashizan Masjum spent 18 years crisscrossing the world producing and directing documentaries for international networks like National Geographic, Discovery and History, but deep down he knew there was another way to tell a story. “I’ve been fascinated with women’s footwear designs for a very long time. For me, they are like pieces of art, sculpted to perfection and adorned with ornamentation that reveal such exquisite beauty,” he said. Read more…

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Javiere, a new line of women’s dress footwear, is a culmination of many years creating other designers’ dreams. The brand is owned by China-based JVR Group, which established a private label business over 13 years ago for designers and brands looking to develop and manufacture better dress and casual footwear in China within the mid to upper-tier distribution channels. Read more…

Marion Parke

Podiatric surgeon-turned-footwear designer Marion Parke is proving that pretty shoes can also be intelligently designed with her eponymous line of Italian-made footwear.

Made in the same factory as Jimmy Choo, Isabel Marant, Miu Miu and more, the line’s quality and attention to design is on par with the finest luxury labels in the market. However, Parke is transforming the way standard insoles are used in the category with her patent-pending four-part insole built to deliver better foot positioning and functionality. Read more…