Global Footwear Awards (GFA) has begun its global search to identify visionary designers in footwear. The Julee Boot was awarded Independent Designer of the Year as well as category winner in Women’s Fashion and Artistic Footwear.
The Julee Boot was named after Julee Wilson, Beauty Director of Cosmopolitan Magazine. It was inspired by the eclipse of the sun and the idea that spheres represent motion, vitality, wholeness, completion, and perfection. The contrast between black and white illustrates that the beginning and the end of cycles are always repeating.
GFA talks with Tori Soudan about the winning project
What does this award mean to you personally?
It is such an honor to receive this award. I am very grateful to the jury and to the Global Footwear awards for recognizing my work on this international landscape. The Julee boot was named after Julee Wilson, Beauty Director of Cosmopolitan Magazine. It was inspired by the eclipse of the sun and the idea that spheres represent motion, vitality, wholeness, completion, and perfection. The contrast between black and white illustrates that the beginning and the end of cycles are always repeating. This design is very significant to me, especially because the realization of the concept was very complicated given the sphere shape of the heel, however I was determined to bring it to fruition.
What was most important for you when working on this project and what were the biggest challenges you faced?
I was determined to make the heel round, which was quite difficult to execute and required several iterations. There were many structural obstacles that I had to circumvent. However, I was committed to ensuring that my original vision remained intact.
How/when did you discover that you wanted to work in design?
Designing has always been a passion for me. I started with gowns and clothes growing up, and eventually shifted my focus to shoes after studying abroad in Europe. I had the passion and business acumen but needed to create a foundation of how to navigate the industry. Before starting my business, I took two years to study the industry, build my knowledge, and make key connections before my launch.
How do you think your own culture and environment has shaped your personal and professional creative vision?
Coming from a family of creatives, I was always given the space to develop my creative ideas. I draw inspiration from seeing the colorful quilts created by my mother and grandmother, which led me to experiment with a broad array of colors. I also find inspiration from photography tips that my father shared with me. He showed me how contrasting textures create dimension in photographs and I apply this concept to my designs.
How do you feel footwear design has evolved over the past years and how do you see it evolving in the future?
When I first started research for my brand 13 years ago, the luxury shoe space was not very inclusive. Since then, there has been an increase in diversity, which has brought more cultural influence into designs and styles.
What do you think are the biggest challenges and opportunities in your career and the industry now?
One of the biggest challenges that I find is the amount of time it takes to produce shoes. The industry is also fragmented with many suppliers that must be coordinated in order to start a production. Technology has not yet advanced enough to shorten this process significantly and I it would be great to see more advancements in this area.
How do you deal with feedback?
Feedback is essential for the success of my business. I appreciate the strong and interactive relationship I have with my customers, as their feedback has helped me evolve as a designer over the years. I enjoy learning about how they experience my brand and how they integrate my designs into their lifestyle.
The Global Footwear Design Awards (GFA) is announcing winners for its second edition, showcasing a variety of exceptional creative potential across 20+ categories in all levels; Brands, Independent and Students. The GFA recognizes visionary design talent from around the world with an ambition to provide the highest recognition to footwear designers in all categories including sustainability and social impact.
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