What is your first memory as a a child on shoes?
I remember the shoe workshop in my grandparents’ house. The smell of leather, lots of black shoes on green shelfs. The sound of radio. It was the 80s.
What inspired you to start “Roxana Maftei bespoke” for women?
Both admiration and frustration. Admiration for the work of shoemakers. Frustration over the fact that women’s shoes are most of the time a second priority in a shoemaker’s portfolio. There is a saying among shoemakers, that while a man may becontent with three different styles, a woman won’t find the right one among three hundred. To make appealing bespoke shoes for the women of the 21st century is challenging and I don’t blame them for that. But I don’t think it’s right to leave our feet completely to the interest of the fashion industry who just cares about volume.
Oslo, the place you’ve launched Roxana Maftei is a long way from Vienna. What’s the story?
I came to Oslo with the mindset of returning to Vienna after one year or two. In the meantime, I have made Norway to my home. I started the project for women’s bespoke shoes in Oslo out of the desire to create a piece of value for the women here. Women in Norway, more than in any part of the world, play an important role in politics, business life and society as a whole. I have met ladies who fly to London, Vienna or Paris to order their bespoke shoes. So, why not have it the other way around? The feedback I have received so far tells me that it was the right move.
I have gladly seen that your shoes are now displayed in Oleana’s shop, downtown Oslo. Tell me more about it.
Oleana is a Norwegian brand I greatly admire. It was founded at a time when most factories closed down and outsourced production to China. The company has built a strong brand in Norway and share a philosophy I myself embrace: to buy less but of better quality.
I was lucky enough to get so much support from Oleana’s lovely designer SolveigHisdal and Oleana’s owners. The shoes are displayed in their flagshipstore in Oslo and I couldn’t have dreamed of a better place.
Tell me about “your” atelier in Oslo.
I ‘m a proud member of the vibrant community for entrepreneurs at Mesh in Oslo. I rent their maker space (atelier) there where I design and create things with the wonderful tools available there.
Why should a woman go for bespoke shoes?
I don’t know any plausible reason why a women shouldn’t wear shoes made for her feet. Bespoke shoes are like driving a very, very expensive car. Everything is better. It feels better, it looks better and it IS just better. How do you explain that to people? You just have to experience it.
What problems do bespoke shoes solve?
Women have four more times as many foot problems as men and improper footwear is partly to blame. Narrow shoes, tight shoes, high heels. Lots of pain, inflammation or pressure on a certain part of the feet. Sometimes, we wear shoes that are just “killing” us. You need shoes that support your arches. A pair of shoes that is supposed to fit other 5 million women can’t do that. And neither high-heels nor flip-flops will do that.
So, never high-heels, flip-flops and flat boots?
Sure! I wear my flip- flops as I wear high heels and flat boots. But as much as we love our high-heels, squeezing your feet in them when you rush to job, pick up your kids and do the shopping on the way home…. that can become a bloody thing. I think there is a context for everything. When it comes to business, bespoke shoes seem to be the best choice.
What about fashion?
Fashion is about the show and not about the people. Let’s be honest, how many of us can wear the stuff on the cat walk? The good thing is that most of us have come so far that we dare to harmonize our desire to feel comfortable with the way we choose to dress. And it looks like the fashion industry is catching up with the trend with the so called lifestyle brands. Hence, in business context, low has become the new high. Which is great!
Vivienne Westwood said once “I like to literally put women on a pedestal“. Where do you intend to place your clients?
I think we women have made it to where we want to be. We are busy. We work. We wipe our children’s mouth with the back of our hands as we drive them to child care. We rush to the office. We don’t need clothes that make a statement per se. They rather reflect the values we stand for. We shrug off the unnecessary. We get rid of the noise out there. We know what’s important. Of real value. My shoes reflect that philosophy.
To be continued …