Cult-favorite streetwear brand Abel Honor New York has launched their highly anticipated shoe-wear line, officially expanding their product offerings and embarking on a new chapter for the company.
At the helm of AHNY is Kate Wasserbach Moore, founder and creative director who is a seasoned designer in her own right. After working with various fashion houses, from Christian Dior to Ralph Lauren, Kate stepped into her own, and utilized her expertise to birth a brand unlike any other on the market. AHNY has seen incredible success for their grunge-glamour inspired pieces, made from Kate’s skilled craftsmanship and creativity. It is the brand for the rebellious it-girl who cannot be put into one box, and seeks ways to express her femininity, and her edge simultaneously.
Wasserbach Moore has also tapped into her background in couture to offer a truly unique offering to her customers, and her first-ever footwear line was developed with the same standard in mind. Each shoe in the five-piece line is handmade, sourced, and constructed in Italy by expert Italian ateliers, promising the highest design standards and unique craftsmanship that AHNY customers know well. With two sneakers, two combat boots and one boot heel, each is made from genuine leather and substantial materials, and are all collector’s items.
For footwear, Wasserbach Moore drew inspiration from the Swan Lake ballet when designing the collection, utilizing themes of the story’s emotional, universal, and timeless feel. The campaign’s theme of love and sacrifice is seen and felt, and it’s AHNY’s wish that every person who wears their shoes feels moved to live their most authentic lives, stand out from the crowd, and never waiver from fearlessly journeying through life.
Read our exclusive interview with the lead designer as she dauntlessly dives into the world of footwear.
What inspired you to create the Swan Lake collection, and what made you decide to use the story of the Black Swan as the theme for the collection?
The concept behind this collection was a representation of good versus evil which is found through the compelling and emotional storyline of the Black Swan movie. The Swan Lake ballet tells the story of a young prince who falls in love with a beautiful swan princess, and their love is thwarted by an evil sorcerer depicted through two opposing swans: the vulnerable, ethereal White Swan and the seductive, deceptive Black Swan.
The story is full of conflict, drama, and tragedy, all the while being one of the greatest love stories of all time. I found that Irony so attractive, and I wanted to do a collection behind it. The irony in this movie is very on brand with AHNY.
The story’s themes of love, loss, and redemption are universal and timeless, and its dramatic tension and heartbreaking conclusion- I believe – really sympathize with people.
Additionally, the music of Swan Lake, composed by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, is considered one of the most beautiful and romantic scores in classical music, further adding to the story’s emotional impact. Our campaign video is very heavy with
beauty, suspense, and irony which is accompanied by the beautiful Swan Lake theme song.
Can you walk us through the process of creating this collection, from sourcing materials to designing the shoes and working with Italian artisans?
This year we wanted to expand our network in production, craft, and network. Last summer we traveled to Italy to meet with ethically sound and aligned factories. Because AHNY’s core values align with construction and craft, we really were excited to see these generation old artisans master their field. We partnered with a factory who has been in the business for 120 years. The artificers were beyond impressive and highly skilled.
Handcrafted with traditional Italian shoemaking techniques, every stitch and seam reflect our passion for quality, craftsmanship, and style. Every product in this collection is handmade.
We only used first class materials such as high-quality leather, that are carefully selected and rigorously tested to ensure they meet AHNY’s exacting standards.
We are beyond thrilled to continue our relationship and partnership with our AHNY abroad team.
Each shoe in the Swan Lake collection is unique because it’s handmade. How do you think this adds value to the collection, and why was it important to you to have each shoe be one-of-a-kind?
There are several unique aspects to our collection, other than being handmade in Italy.
1. Attention to detail: Our artisans are renowned for their meticulous attention to detail. Every aspect of the shoe, from the stitching to the finishing touches, is carefully crafted by hand.
2. Quality materials: We only use the highest quality materials, such as fine leathers sourced in the country. This ensures that our shoes are not only beautiful but also durable and long-lasting.
3. Tradition: Our factory has a rich history and tradition in shoemaking, dating back hundreds of years. When you purchase a pair of our handmade Italian shoes, you’re not just buying a product – you’re also supporting a cultural tradition and heritage.
4. Exclusivity: Because our handmade shoes take a significant amount of time and skill to produce, they are typically more exclusive and limited in production. This adds to our appeal and uniqueness which align with our brand DNA.
The campaign video for the Swan Lake collection is stunning and tells a compelling story. What was the idea behind the video, and how did you come up with the concept?
The campaign video shows a young girl who escapes her everyday life to explore, communicate, and connect with herself on a deeper level. She does this through her passion of ballet.
Every day, she puts on her AHNY shoes, gets in her car, and drives to her ‘sanctuary’, which is an abandoned warehouse. In this warehouse, you will see an entire wall filled with imagery of things this girl finds inspiring to her. It is her safe space.
Throughout the video, she slowly becomes her true self (which is representative of the Black Swan). The Black Swan does not symbolize evil in this short film; it symbolizes this young woman’s innermost truth. Her sanctuary is where she feels most like herself.
In a way, the act of putting your shoes on is very metaphorical. It suggests your shoes are a product of who you really are. Your shoes – or someone else’s shoes – are closely related to empathy and the ability to understand and share the feelings – of yourself, or others. By practicing empathy and putting ourselves in someone else’s position, we can develop a greater sense of compassion and understanding. In the end, it helps us build stronger relationships, resolves conflicts, and creates a more inclusive and an equitable society. Putting on shoes, whether it is yours or someone else’s, goes further than just the simple act.
Every day, this girl throws on her AHNY shoes to go find her passion. Towards the end of the film, you will see all the shoes draped on the floor from days and visits before. Those are the shoes that got her to that point of finding full transparency in herself.
In the last few slides, you see that she starts to take off the pictures from her inspiration wall and replaces the pages with imagery of herself. The concept is to ‘be your own muse’.
The combination of fashion, music, dance, and storytelling in this short film has made this campaign a masterpiece of the performing/visual/and fine arts. I hope the campaign’s theme of love and sacrifice of being your own muse highly resonate with our customers.
The campaign video features a young woman who finds her passion through ballet and uses her AHNY shoes as a way to express herself. How important do you think self-expression is in fashion, and why did you choose to focus on this idea in the campaign video?
Self-expression is a huge part of our industry. It allows our consumers to showcase their unique personalities and perspectives through the way they dress. Our products are powerful tools for self-expression, as they allow individuals to communicate who they are and what they value without saying a word.
It allows expression of identity, creativity, and individuality. It can be used to show a sense of belonging to a particular community or subculture, or to stand out as a non-conformist. That’s why our ‘Abel Gang’ organically came about. It creates a sense of empowerment and confidence.
Overall, self-expression is important in this video because it allows this young woman to fully embrace and celebrate her unique identities, and to feel confident and empowered in her own skin.
The theme of this campaign video is ‘be your own muse’.
The Swan Lake collection includes a variety of styles, from sneakers to combat boots to a boot heel. Who do you envision wearing these shoes, and what outfits do you think they would pair well with?
Yes, we have 5 different styles in this collection. I wanted to include such a variety so our customer can literally wear and pair AHNY from day to night. The sneakers are the same style but different color-ways, and the combats are similar in style, but one hits below the knee with leather laces, and the other is mid-calf with rope laces. The heel-boots were the first thing I made, which was more of a passion project than anything – I love those heels! The difference of silhouette, comfort, and style allows our consumer to pair this collection with any occasion; casual, comfort, or cocktail.
The Swan Lake story has been interpreted in many different ways over the years. How did you approach incorporating the themes of the story into the design of the shoes, and what elements did you focus on?
Irony was the main theme that I took away from the movie. Irony is displayed in Black Swan through many situations like the conflict between Nina’s desire to be perfect and her inhibitions, or the dramatic irony where the audience knows more
about Nina’s mental state than she does, and finally verbal irony in the interactions between Nina and her mother. Nina’s mother is obsessed with Nina’s success as a ballerina, but her encouragement often comes across as critical and harsh. Nina’s mother pushes her to be perfect while simultaneously undermining her confidence. These forms of irony deepen the movie’s exploration of its themes – which I thought was so rich in concept – including obsession, perfectionism, and mental health. The designs of the sneakers show Irony, not only by the competing color-way of the pink vs. blue, but with the choice of leathers. The shell is made from a beautiful crushed metallic fine leather. The irony behind this is that sneakers are stereotyped as a vehicle for comfort and functionality, but we gave it a more elevated twist. Similarly, we did the same with the combat boots. We took a utility vehicle and adorned it with jewels. And for the heel boot, we took a chunkier silhouette to a heel. Heels are considered delicate – this silhouette says otherwise. All of our Swan Lake designs add a layer of complexity and depth to the collection, creating a contrast between what is expected and what was actually executed.
What do you hope people will take away from the Swan Lake collection and the campaign video, both in terms of the shoes themselves and the message behind the campaign?
I hope our customers understand the concept behind this collection in challenging social norms in fashion and in society.
This movie, along with this design series, explores themes of ambition, identity, and the pursuit of perfection. To understand the the Black Swan – figuratively and metaphorically – struggles of embodying the dual roles of the White Swan and like I have said before, time and time again, I want our customer to feel empowered, brave, and confident when wearing AHNY.
The Swan Lake story is known for its themes of love, loss, and redemption. How did you incorporate these themes into the design and marketing of the collection?
The film’s exploration of the darker side of ambition and the cost of sacrifice is what we narrated in our marketing plan for this collection. Our short film highlights a young woman pressured into the social norms of life, and she finds her release by dancing in an abandoned warehouse where there is imagery of all her muses. That warehouse may be overlooked by many, but to her, that warehouse holds her dreams. Our AHNY shoes hold your dreams and will take you to them.
The campaign video encourages viewers to “be their own muse.” What does this mean to you and how does it relate to the shoes?
In the video you will see this young girl escapes reality, throws on her AHNY shoes and goes to this abandoned warehouse. She does this daily, alone… it is her happy place. In the warehouse you will find a full wall of things that inspire her – hundreds of tears. Each time he goes to the warehouse to dance, you see her style changing into her ‘true self’, all while wearing the AHNY shoes. At the end of the video, you see her taking down the images of her muses and replaces them of images of herself. Overtime, she has become her own muse…that is the AHNY message.
What’s next for Abel Honor New York? Can we expect more footwear collections in the future?
Absolutely, this is just the beginning for footwear, and we have already started designing the next collection. There are a bunch of new avenues for AHNY, and I cannot wait to see it all come together. Stay tuned!
Presented By: Tom White