Regina Romero’s owner, Jorge Romero, agrees that inventiveness is key to grabbing the consumer’s attention. He’s spent the past 40 years in the Mexican shoe industry working with local tanneries on developing “one-of-a-kind textures and finishings” to personalize the brand’s leathers.
Regina Romero also employs foil treatments to create metallic or mirrored finishes on their leathers. High-gloss patents and vintaging effects are found throughout the line as well. Regina Romero’s line would appear to rely heavily on exotic animal skins, except for the fact that they’re imitations of the real thing. The use of genuine exotic skins is against the brand’s values, Romero said.
“Quality and style are our top priorities when selecting leather,” he said. Romero explained that tannery samples are subjected to “stretching, bending, radical temperature changes,” and constant manipulation by different hands and machines. The process by which their leathers are crafted includes a combination of embossing and printing on calfskin, much of which is a by-product of Mexico’s meat industry. “Once the leather is tanned and colored, we can choose or create different prints or indentations for the leather press,” Romero explained. Detailed textures, from “exotic animals to intricate shapes or monograms,” are an oft-used design feature.
In choosing the right leathers, the brand has to make sure that they “won’t lose saturation, elasticity or resistance” through both production processes and rigorous product testing. That’s another reason why the imitation animal skins are ultimately a better investment, he added. “We want our shoes to last for decades,” he said. According to Romero, real exotic skins simply don’t hold up as well as treated leathers, and the brand “aims toward sustainability.”
Andre Assous’ lace-up combat boot featured an all-over, snakeskin-textured patent in rich burgundy
French line Arche brought a vibrant, cerulean patent to its oxford style with a soft, deconstructed feel.
Donald Pliner’s heeled Chelsea boot featured a rich oxblood patent with an ombre effect
When asked about the prevalence of patent in all its forms, Shena Louissaint, a rep for the Assous, explained that consumers are looking for something “different and daring” in their materials this fall.
The line’s standout material is its twin-faced shearling. Rather than layering the sheepskin with leather or a synthetic for thickness and structure, both sides of the material are outward-facing. “It molds to the foot better because there’s no backing and no glue. It’s almost like a sock,” said Leah Larson, Ross & Snow’s creative director.
The inventively-named “ghost camo” pattern also plays a major role in the line, adding a mere suggestion of the familiar military pattern to black, brown and white leathers. All of the materials are weather-resistant, explained Leah Larson, Ross & Snow’s creative director, and some are fully waterproof.
Consumers want classic silhouettes that are nonetheless on trend, she explained. Textures and finishes are a way to grab their attention. “When you’re going to spend money on a great pair of shoes, you want something that you’re going to wear a lot,” Larson said.
According to Larson, patterns, foil finishes and embossing are a way to spur a real reaction. For brands and consumers, beautiful materials can “trigger the emotion” behind the design process and the purchase, she said. Neutrals like brown, black, navy and grey are a staple in any collection, Larson said, “but chances are, people have something like that already. To get them to come in and invest more, you’re going to have to do something different.”