Two Shoes Are Better Than One

As we reported a few weeks ago, the runways have been rife with the collaborative efforts of jewelry and fashion designers. But as the weeks have worn on, we’ve also seen just as many alliances develop between the worlds of fashion and footwear. Beyond partnerships between heavyweights such as Yohji Yamamoto and Salvatore Ferragamo, emerging fashion labels are also eager to diversify their collections with edgy shoe design. What’s more, these up-and-comers gain from both the expertise and the built-in fan base that accompany a partnership with a well-known shoe designer.

Ohne Titel and Cesare Paciotti’s joint work is one of the most established of the current linkups. Designers Flora Gill and Alexa Adams debuted a line of macramé stilettos for the Italian shoe company during their spring/summer ’09 show, a partnership that was resurrected for autumn/winter ’09 with a collection of slick steel-toed boots. While Ohne Titel clearly benefits from its access to Cesare Paciotti’s production team and worldwide placement, but the Italian label understands the importance of working with emerging names (having already done so with Catherine Holstein and Christian Cota) to attract fresh press as well as a hip, young clientele.

The season’s other collaborations read like side-by-side laundry lists of the new fashion establishment and the old guard of footwear design. Christopher Kane recently revealed a line of crystal-studded platform sandals for the newly relaunched Versus. Editorial darling Joseph Altuzarra teamed up with Gianvito Rossi (son of Sergio) to create a range of fur-trimmed boots for his first official fashion show. And menswear label Duckie Brown teamed up with every Dad’s favorite shoemaker, Florsheim, for a range of lace-free wing-tips and brogue-style ankle boots.

A few seasons down the line, these designers will presumably take their learnings (and earnings) and launch shoe lines under their own brand umbrellas—but that hasn’t been the case for Band of Outsiders’ Scott Sternberg. This season marks his fourth collection for Sperry, comprised of a typically fanciful collection of trompe l’oeil boat shoes and loafers. As Sternberg recently told “They just carry such a nostalgia for me and my customer…They make sense in so many ways, they draw upon this Ivy League DNA that, of course, I’m fond of, but then they’re so easy and comfortable.”If anything, this is proof positive that the right partnership can sometimes make a more powerful statement than going it alone.

—Erin Magner