Tonight, Aerin Lauder‘s long-awaited shoe line, AERIN, will bow in Bloomingdale’s on 59th Street at 6 p.m., where Lauder will be on hand to meet-and-greet devotees and personally sign their brand new purchases. (Joie!) This afternoon, we hopped on the phone with Lauder for a good ol’ fashioned gab fest…about shoes, of course!
When did your love affair with shoes begin?
I have to say, it’s kind of embarrassing, but there are pictures of me in diapers at the age of two or three wearing shoes that belonged to either my mother or grandmother. I’ve always loved beauty, obviously, but accessories and shoes have been a longtime passion. It was a logical next step in my lifestyle brand after our beauty launch.
Have you received your first pair from the factory yet?
I just got them in. The sample sizes are usually a size seven, and I wear a nine, so I finally get to wear my own pair of AERIN shoes and I love them!
What was your learning curve like in the shoe department?
It’s more complicated than mascara! But similar to beauty, shoes are about detail, concept, and marketing. We thought of an idea for the whole collection, which is all about wonderful travel destinations and beaches, and from there we came up with what shoes would best fit destinations like the south of France, the coast of Spain, or Long Island.
How involved in the design process are you?
Very involved! It’s my name on the product, so it has to be the best it can possibly be. I really look at every detail, whether it be the box, the logo, or the gold tissue paper the shoe is wrapped in when it’s shipped…everything!
Who’s the AERIN client?
With my lifestyle brand, it’s not so much about an age group; it’s more of a state of mind. It’s about someone with style that needs a sense of effortlessness to their life. I was just at a meeting and someone said, ‘Everyone loves style and quality, but no one has time.’ That’s where the beautiful AERIN flats come in that you can wear to the office or in the evening. We cater to a woman who wants style and luxury at a good price, but at the same time wants comfort, ease, and fashion that’s not intimidating.
Who’s your number one cheerleader?
Probably my children. From the beginning, they told me I should do this! Now that I’ve gotten the shoe samples in and showed them what I’d been working on, they’re so cute and proud.
What did you take from your experience at Estée Lauder that you applied to AERIN?
It’s really about quality, management, understanding who your consumer is, and choosing the right partners. Just like in beauty, you have to interpret the trends for the real woman and choose colors or trends that are easy to wear. We do the same thing for our footwear. For instance, the floral trend is all over the runway. Our version is a ballet flat with floral laser cutouts. That’s how we participate in the trend in a wearable way.
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
A lot! The thing about shoes is that you never really grow out of them. I think I still have the shoes I wore to my engagement party! I keep all my shoes in the closet, lined up. Shoes that I’ve worn in the past, and am sentimental about, I keep in boxes or shoe bags.
What’s your go-to silhouette?
I’ve always loved the ballet slipper. There’s just something so feminine and modern about them. And I love that we’re seeing them on the runways again. People who you would have never imagined wearing ballet slippers are even trying them!
Any shoe you’re not so fond of?
I like all different shoes—wedges, flats, super high heels—but over-the-knee boots are tricky. I love the way they look on other women, but I don’t think I could ever pull them off.
Since we’ll see you at Bloomie’s later, what’s your earliest Bloomingdale’s memory?
My grandparents took me there when I was really young, maybe eight or ten, and bought me my first watch. I think it was Swatch. I don’t know if I even knew how to tell time!