Louis and Lola is fast becoming the number one go to brand for beautiful NZ designed Italian made footwear for littlies. We caught up with creator Amanda to get to know more about this amazing brand and how it all began.
Tell us about Louis and Lola, when did you start?
Louis and Lola started in 2014 and I produced by my first small collection for Summer 14, so we’ve been in stores for a little over a year now. We’re just delivered our Winter 16 collection which I’m super excited about as there are so many beautiful styles!
How did the Name Louis and Lola come about?
Louis is my sons name, he’s just turned 4, and I’m slightly stressing about how fast he is growing up. Lola is one of my good friends little girls name… I loved the way the names sounded together, plus Lola is one of the most gorgeous little girls you will ever meet so it just seemed like the right fit!
What got you started in shoe design?
My background has always been in fashion, merchandising and importing, but for as long as I can remember I’ve had a slight obsession with baby / kids shoes… Then when Louis came along and I just couldn’t find anything decent for him to wear on his feet (other than Nature Baby Slippers – he lived in those, so I decided to look into my own range…and that’s where it all began.
How does designing children’s shoes differ from adults footwear (other than no stilettos)
I’ve never designed adults shoes, currently my largest size is 4-5 years, but my perception is that baby / kids shoes are way more fun, you can have wider use of colour and to some extent design. I haven’t met anyone that hasn’t fallen in love with my shoes and I think it’s because they just look so incredibly cute both on and off.
Your beautiful shoes are made in Italy do you have family connections there? What made you go with Italian fabrication?
Firstly I love leather, all my shoes are full leather outer and inner and there is nothing better than good quality leather for growing feet. Italy, Spain and Portugal have the best leather tanneries and factories in the world, far superior to anything you might buy from China, so for me working with the best fabrication possible was a huge bonus – Plus I’m very into ethical / sustainable products. All my suppliers are family owned businesses and for me it’s extremely satisfying to know exactly where my product is made and who is making it. I’ve been lucky enough for the past 2 years, to live in Europe 6 months and NZ 6 months – my partner is a rugby player so he plays in NZ, and also in Europe. That has opened up the opportunity for me to source the right factories, visit European fairs and really understand the shoe manufacturing process.
I really want to offer NZ mums & dads shoes that are European, well designed, good quality AND ethical, without a huge price tag
What inspires each new collection and what processes do you go through when deciding whether a design will make a new collection.
Living in Europe part of the year is a huge inspiration for me, there’s something about European fashion that’s so refined and classic, there’s so much history here, so I draw a lot of inspo from living amongst it. As well as thinking about what I would like for my own kids; I want something that’s designed well, but functional and hard wearing at the same time. I would rather spend a little bit more and buy a good quality pair of shoes that I can hand down rather than a whole pile of plastic that ends up as land fill! I also work very closely with my suppliers in the sampling process, as not every design is possible, so their years of experience helps me a lot! I’m also super keen on unisex styles – that way if you have boys and girls in the family… They can be passed on!!I also listen to customer feedback – it’s always helpful to hear from mum and dads so I make small design adjustments if something isn’t as functional as it should be. Kids feet are all so very different so it’s good to have feedback.
Your new collection has just hit stores – What are your favourite shoes from the new collection.
Oh I’m in love with Livvy and my Suede Harper’s from the baby collection, these styles are just so timeless and perfect. My most favourite style would have to be my Wynter boots from the toddler collection, they are a unisex pull on leather ankle boot with a super bendy sole, Any kid can get these on and off easily and they will go with just about everything in your boys or girls wardrobe! Ivy would have to be another unisex fav too.
Do you have a team that work with you on the brand?
I’m a one-man-band, so I manage all my own design, sales, social media, quality control, deliveries …. Everything! So if you message me or ask a question online, it’s always me that answers. I’m very passionate about my brand, what I do and what it stands for and I have a huge social conscience.
The Louis and Lola new season range is out now, and to celebrate we’ve teamed up with Parnell Baby Boutique who are giving away one pair of gorgeous new season shoes of the winners choice. Check out our Instagram with details of how to enter.