New Type #31: Angela Mitchell – Krystal and Marilyn Lavoie Interview

May 17, 2018 3:00 PM

We are living in the age of fast fashion, and even Europe’s most storied luxury brands have been moving their factories to Asia to reduce costs. So what possessed two earnest young sisters from Quebec– Krystal and Marilyn Lavoie– to partner with 6th generation shoe artisans in Italy to make the world’s most aesthetically pleasing and comfortable shoes? TWELV peppered the co-founders/designers from Angela Mitchell Milan with questions, and here’s what we found out:

So how did two sisters from Montreal end up designing luxury shoes for an international market? 

Our mother always told us that the sky is the limit, and when you believe, visualize and achieve, anything is possible. What makes it successful is that we are always pushing our boundaries and on the forefront. Every detail counts from the product to everything we accomplish. It’s an experience for our clients to feel that everything is made with love and passion.

What is the provenance of your brand’s name? 

We knew it had to be symbolic as well as personal, as we have devoted our hearts to Angela Mitchell. Our mother’s birth name was Krystal Angela Mitchell. Our brand’s signature is, therefore, a black Swarovski crystal.  Black crystals are protective of harm and curing of self-doubt.  They promote positive energy and are a strong grounding and guiding force.

Your Fall 2018 collection is inspired by the cities and towns of Morocco. How did that come about? 

We visited each city in Morocco, passing through the Berber villages and seeing the oldest kasbahs to the edge of the Sahara Desert. Our trip was essentially to discover Moroccan culture and to see its breathtaking landscapes. The Fall-Winter 2018 collection is a result of all the inspiration we took in from this trip. The glitter represents the stars at night in the sky, the red and brown are colors that are omnipresent everywhere from the sand to the sunset and the motifs are inspired by Berber communities. There are two very special shoes in our collection– one for men, called Tizi, and one for women, called Tichka, that were inspired by the Tizi n’Tichka route, a dangerous passage through the Atlas Mountains from Marrakesh to Warzazat. All profits from the sale of these shoes will be donated to CARE Morocco.

The collection consists of six designs for men, and seven for women, which includes sexy stilettos, sparkly-sporty flats, embellished oxfords and a high-heeled boot. How did you envision your shoes to be worn? Did you want to create shoes for a range of occasions, from every day to formal? 

Every design was made to be worn from day to night. And embellishments are a big part of the designs, from the high-heeled boot with metallic squares to the oxfords with shiny tops.  

When you are designing, how do you determine what is viable from a manufacturing standpoint, or do you just design it, and the craftsmen find a way to make it work? 

Everything starts with a sketch where there is no limit to creativity. Once we have selected the sketches that we want to bring to life, we brainstorm and join forces with artisans who have the highest shoe-making savoir-faire to find the best way to make it feasible without compromising comfort and luxury.  

Your shoes are designed in Canada and made in Milan by sixth-generation artisans. This is remarkable to me because even certain Italian luxury brands have moved their manufacturing to China to save costs, but the tradition and craftsmanship of the Milanese shoe makers cannot be replicated anywhere else. How did the relationship with your Italian counterparts come about? 

A good business venture always starts with building lasting relationship. It was important for us to know that our shoes were ethically made and that we contributed to the Italian heritage of shoe-making. This is what we reflect through our brand values. 

Do you travel to Milan when the shoes are being manufactured or is the sampling and correction process done remotely? 

Yes, we do travel to Milan to work with our team before beginning the prototypes. This is a very important step in the process, as we need to be meticulous and brainstorm for the best outcome. There is no better way to create a shoe than to do it together in Milan. Throughout the prototyping process we perfect the shoe.

Comfort is also something you take very seriously. Can you tell me about the pressure point padding built into your shoes? 

A very important key element to adding comfort to our shoes is the expertise of Krystal Lavoie, who studied Orthotics and Prosthetics. We pay attention to where there might be friction points on the feet, as we want our customers to have the most comfort with aesthetically amazing shoes!

You’ve put your shoes on some of my favorite people, such as Nile Rodgers and Maxwell! How did you go about introducing your shoes to them? 

Creating a relationship with stylists is the key. They are celebrities’ eyes for style.

Who are you yearning to get into your shoes in the future? 

Celine Dion without a doubt, she is our Quebec icon and surely one of the most powerful voices! Growing up our mother used to listen to her all the time. When she sings, it’s with emotion and it vibrates in her voice and transmits to her audience. What an inspirational woman she has been to us. We look up to her for several reasons– she has always pursued her passion and dream, and never compromised herself or her values.

Who are your stockists currently? What is the best way for folks to find your shoes?

The best way is to visit our website. We ship worldwide for free!

What are your plans for the development of Angela Mitchell over the next 5-10 years? 

Continue developing at an international level, as our goal is eventually to find Angela Mitchell in every country.

 

INTERVIEW BY KAREN FRAGALA-SMITH

 

PHOTOS COURTESY OF ANGELA MITCHELL

 

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