Caravan Designer Highlight: Alice Alan

Corporate America is not commonly expected to breed fashion mavens, yet Alice Chen, founder of Alice Alan, found her motivation for the line through her corporate career. As a flat-footed working woman, she always felt disappointed in her findings when it came to shoe shopping. A woman should not have to sacrifice comfort OR style when stepping outside, and Alice set out on a mission to create a shoe that keeps that notion in mind. Curious to see how shoes were made in NYC she began apprenticing as a hobby, not unlike going to the gym after work! Alice appreciated the craftsmanship that came with constructing a shoe by hand, and was inspired by her instructor, Emily Putterman, to seriously consider shoemaking as a career. Through her wise words and encouragement, Emily motivated Alice to create a line of ready-to-wear shoes that is “fashion for the sole,” balancing the two components of style and comfort.

The Alice Alan customer is a woman who appreciates timeless style and artisanal quality. She is a professional woman who prefers a luxuriously chic shoe that will (gasp!) hold up to her busy lifestyle, rather than one who hops on every trend bandwagon. Alice Alan shoes are designed from the inside out, first engineered to fit orthopedic concerns before even thinking about the style. This footwear is meant to give women an extra boost of confidence to look great and feel great. Alice tells us that she loves getting feedback from her customers about what they are looking to get out of a shoe—it’s like free market research! She utilizes her customers’ opinions to create a design aesthetic that speaks to professional women.

Living in New York City is a great place for people watching. Alice spends time sitting outside and witnessing the eclectic walks of life (literally) to see what people are actually wearing on their feet. I couldn’t help but ask her about trends she has been seeing! Alice is not a big fan of the pointy toed look—she finds it unnatural, uncomfortable and completely opposite of her flexible/functional style. A look she is loving right now is the return of the single sole! She loves the femininity of the style, which speaks to her design philosophy of being classy, sophisticated, and timeless. When asked which shoe from the line speaks to her personally, without hesitation she replies that the “Emma,” a 2 inch Mary Jane with a thin heel, is her favorite! She loves to wear the leopard print version, and gushes that it adds personality to any outfit whether it be jeans or a little black dress! It is not a corporate shoe, per se, but she loves the versatility of it.

One of the points I admire most about Alice’s mission is her dedication to the ethical integrity of her line. It is quite a challenge to find the skillset needed to produce handcrafted shoes locally! Alice reflects that these shoemakers are truly like artists—shoe making is their practice, their passion. She is so excited to support local designers, and loves to cater to those who appreciate the artistry as much as she does.

Check out the styles and learn more about this talented lady at  http://www.alicealan.com/ and follow her on twitter to stay updated @AliceAlanShoes !