Dear Frances, a London-based footwear brand by Jane Frances, has launched Stateside for Spring and it’s time you put this up-and-comer on your radar. Produced in Italy in the same factory where Frances honed her design skills, the line ranges from $340 for a slide to $550 for boots. Already a favorite in the U.K. and Europe, the brand comes to the U.S. after its clean, modern aesthetic developed a following on Instagram from U.S. consumers. We caught up with Frances to find out more about her inspiration for Spring and the brand’s cult following.
Why was now the right time to bring the brand to the U.S.?
We had been considering launching in the U.S. for a while, however we wanted to make sure it was the right time, and that feels like now. Our brand and aesthetic resonates so well with our US customers, there seems to be a natural understanding of our style and what we represent. We also have a strong social following in the U.S.; customers are incredibly loyal and we are excited to make Dear Frances more easily available to them.
Why did you call the line Dear Frances?
Dear Frances refers to the beginning of our story, the start of a letter, if you like, and all that comes after. It’s our story and our journey.
What is your design background?
I studied at London College of Fashion and then specialized in footwear design in Milan. I was offered a rare and exciting opportunity to intern at a family-run footwear factory in Vigevano, not far from where I studied. The factory is renowned in the Italian shoe world for its impeccable quality and craftsmanship, so I jumped at the chance and spent the next year working alongside the production team. It was wonderful—our shoes are still made at the same factory. It’s nice to have such a close relationship with the production team. The factory is my zen zone, and my time there has had such a lasting effect on the label.
How did you break into the shoe business?
My love for shoes developed over time, particularly as my design process became focused on detail, structure, and clean lines—aspects that lend themselves naturally to shoe design. This, combined with my love of tonal colors and a penchant for uncomplicated design, is what drives the Dear Frances aesthetic. I was fortunate to have a wonderful mentor during my years of study, who introduced me to the factory that we now work with. From the very beginning they had a true understanding of our vision, and I work very closely with them to ensure every pair remains true to our ethos. I think this relationship, the shared vision and values, has been instrumental in the development of the label.
Spring was inspired by Sweden. Tell us about your Nordic trip!
Sweden is a beautiful country! I spent some time there last year and found it to be hugely influential during the design process for Spring 2016. Much of my visual inspiration comes from the world of fine art, architecture, and furniture design, and each of these elements played a part during my time in Sweden. In Stockholm, modernist buildings fit seamlessly with centuries-old European architecture, and I was drawn to this beautiful contrast of old and new. The city moves like a well-oiled machine and reminded me of my own process of shoe production in Italy; everything seemed to be performed with precision and passion. This proved to be true at each of the incredible restaurants we tried—my personal favorite being Lilla Ego in the Vasastan neighborhood! During our stay in Sweden, we had an incredible experience at the Tree Hotel. What a place! Elegant, modern tree-houses were suspended six meters above ground within rows of natural pine. I found this place truly inspiring—certainly my Spring collection was influenced by what I saw and felt during our stay.
Are you sold in U.S. retailers or will only through your website?
We will certainly be selling through U.S. retailers and are currently in talks with key stores ahead of our retail launch. In the meantime, our U.S. customers can shop the Spring collection on our website, with a one- to two-day delivery.
Which American influencers, stylist, editors, or celebrities were early to embrace your brand?
Amal Clooney was one of the first to embrace the label. Bella Hadid wore a pair of our Spirit Boots recently, which have become somewhat of a cult favorite among online influencers such as Evelina, Erica Choi, and Jessie Bush. U.S. editors have been really supportive and receptive from the beginning, and we’ve had an overwhelming number of celebrity requests since our launch this month. We’re excited for what’s to come!
Which pair from your spring collection will you be living in the most?
That’s a difficult one! The Natalie Heels are so easy to wear—you can style them up or down for balmy summer evenings, so they will be getting a lot of air-time come Spring. I will probably live in our Jen Slides and Float Boots throughout the day, and the Poser Mules are my go-to staple for that signature easy elegance.