The Heeled Factor

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Born to an Indian father and a Jamaican mother, Aruna Seth divides her time between London, New York, Paris and Venice. She grew up around the footwear and fashion industry as her father was in the same business. After completing her degree in business, geography and languages, she worked for some investment banks but was always pulled towards the entrepreneurial path. She then chose to study footwear design at the London College of Fashion and honed her skill for crafting intricately designed shoes. Post her degree in shoe design, she decided to go solo rather than joining the family business. Since launching her luxury footwear label, her designs have become an instant hit. Her shoes are handcrafted in Italy, home to some of the most famous footwear brands. Her exclusivity lies in producing each design in limited numbers and her shoes are known to be very comfortable and practical. Aruna’s creations have graced the red carpets and are worn by the likes of Emily Blunt, Goldie Hawn, Katherine Jenkins, Audrina Partridge and Pippa Middleton. Shweta Bhatia speaks to the designer to know more

When did you first decide to become a shoe designer?
I grew up around shoes. It’s part of my heritage as my father makes shoes, so we are a shoe family. I used to work in my fathers company in London, every summer, from sales to accounting- that’s really where I picked the love of the fashion business up.

What do you think of shoe designers today? Who have been your biggest influencers and whose work do you feel most inspired by?
There are some very talented shoe designers. I love Casadei as his designs are very elegant and innovative but sensual at the same time. Also, I am really inspired by designers from the elegance of Valentino to the bright prints of Mary Katrantzou.

What was the turning point of your career?
It definitely had to be the Royal wedding when Pippa Middleton wore my butterfly design shoes.

How did life change after the Royal Wedding?
It was amazing. The Royal press from Pippa Middleton really put us on the map and gave my brand a British prestige. After this we got into Harrods and just grew more from there.

What is the first thing you think of when you sit to design for the new season?
I start with my mood board and I will have a theme for every season. I am completely consumed with myself for at least a week staying indoors and really focused on the book, the creatures involved and the beauty of the flowers. That is my time to create. I think I will always be very passionate about ‘The Secret Garden’ – the limited edition collection I just launched in Harrods.

What is your new collection all about?
This next collection is called ‘Jungle Fever!’ It’s quite exciting but I can’t say more. It’s coming out soon.

The crystal butterfly has become your signature. Tell us how that came about?
I always loved the book, ‘The Secret Garden’, so I was always very inspired by the beautiful creatures inside. For me, the butterfly represented femininity and beauty from within. I decided to go with this and today this has turned into my most iconic signature designs.

What were the initial teething problems that you faced while establishing your brand?
Many! It takes a while to actually make the first initial sample shoes. It’s important to get them absolutely perfect so they are the vision of what the brand is all about.

What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion, to me, means passion in doing what you really believe in.

Who is the one celebrity you would like to design for and why?
I love Jennifer Lopez! I think she is elegant, feminine and so cool.

Who is your favourite fashionista?
Sarah Jessica Parker! She really does have an amazing dress sense and can pull off anything she puts on. That is remarkable.

How important do you feel is to be active on social media today for your business?
Extremely important. In the Middle East, everyone is very active on social media. It plays a very important role for the business as well. A lot of our sales come directly from Instagram and Snapchat so that itself shows how social media is a great influencer for the business.

What do you think of fashion in Dubai?
I love working with Dubai. The fashion is at par with the world’s style. The girls love bright colours and really piece their wardrobes together very elegantly whilst being on trend.

What is in store for the brand in the future?
We are launching our first stand alone store in London this year. We have just opened a store in Beijing. Further
development will be focused on expansion in America throughout the best department stores. Moreover we have some very big celebrity weddings coming up. So we are excited.

What advice would you give to other shoe designers who are just starting out?
Make sure you know your target audience, as without sales there is no business.

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