I interviewed one of our designers Noel Traum about some of his favorite New Fall Styles for 2015. Here is what he said.
Q: Noel, tell me about when you first knew you wanted to be a shoe designer…
A: I knew I wanted to be a shoe designer when I knew I didn’t want to be a pharmacist. I thought I was going to be a pharmacist but organic chemistry wasn’t my cup of tea…I looked in my shoe closet and noticed my growing shoe collection and drawing always came easy so…uh so I thought that was probably the way to go…Found out what I needed to know to be a shoe designer and I went down that road. I made the right connections, worked hard and got lucky.
Q: And how long have you been with Allen Edmonds?
A: Five and a half years
Q: What excites you the most for this coming season (Fall 2015)?
A: I’d say the Normandy. It’s a pretty cool story. The principle behind it was an old WWII boot inspiration. It takes our rough category and pushes it a little further. Definitely geared towards a younger guy.
Q: What kind of guy is going to wear the Normandy this Fall?
A: It’s me, it’s you. It’s a denim look. It’s casual, weekends. Beat up, you know.
Q: Take me into your world for a second. When you were in the early stages of developing this boot (Normandy) what’s going on, who’s helping you, what’s inspiring you?
A: A lot of times what happens is the leather supplier comes to us with a season (of leathers) based on trends. We kind of knew what we wanted to do, and then Dave (David Dezur—another designer) was inspired when he went to NYC and poked around in some vintage clothing stores. We took a look at the leathers and put the boot through what is known as our brand filter. It was a great collaboration between design team members.
Q: Alright great. Let’s talk about another collection for a minute. Can you speak to some of the unique features or refinements that have been added to the Classic Revival collection this Fall?
A: The comfort, the inside is something we definitely pushed. That full length Poron insole is really nice. Our thickest foam insole that we’ve got, we used butyl bottoms which adds slight flexibility. They’re classic easy-to-wear silhouettes. You see a lot of Millennials now wanting something that’ll work in a couple different ways. Once again nice dark denim, a clean look, or khakis, chinos, easy looks that you know are not going to go out of style in the next five years. Easy clean looks that we know we’ve had success with in the past. A longwing (MacNeil), a plain toe (Leeds), and a chukka boot (Dundee). Who doesn’t like a good chukka boot? Come on, you know you want one (holds between his hands).
THE LEEDS 2.0
Q: What was the most challenging product to design this season and why?
A: Definitely was the Normandy boot. Having to get people to know that it is distressed (on purpose). Taking sand paper and roughing up the upper and using a wire wheel and hit it to rough up the sole edging.
Q: Was there a breakthrough, when you knew that all the pieces started coming together on the Normandy? When did you know this boot was going to make it into the line?
A: It’s interesting to hear when we get the product out to our buyers. That’s the biggest point of reference. We take it out to the shoe shows, get feedback there, and if we need to turn on a dime, we can turn on a dime.
Q: What was your favorite product to design or help bring to life on this season?
A: For me it was the new Road Warriors. These are some of the first two patterns from Fall that I worked on personally (the STL and the MSP). The MSP will be good for all those who like the Delray. A classic split toe you know, but with faster lines (the MSP).
Q: Tell me about your personal style or taste for a minute. What is it, and how does it affect the aesthetics of your designs?
A: Personally? Definitely easy clean staples like collared shirts, button downs, but in nice trim cuts. That’s what I wear. Weekends definitely denim and a tee. I might splurge a little and go with a pattern button down. Really it’s kind of the details…the right belt…the right shoe. I am always looking at easy clean silhouettes that will mark that timeless classic look that I know a guy can keep in his closet for a few years and not worry about…if you’re going to spend money on a shoe, you want to make sure it’ll last.
THE MACNEIL 2.0, LEEDS 2.0, DUNDEE 2.0, & NORMANDY
Q: With all of these new styles, I’ve noticed your team is sourcing some amazing materials that have never been used by Allen Edmonds before. How difficult has it been to acquire materials you were looking for when you designed some of these Fall styles?
A: We have to work with multiple suppliers. Sometimes we can tweak the colors (of leathers). You give a certain go-by swatch or whatever it may be or a look that you’re going for. It’s also tweaking what we already own on the finishing side. We have a plethora of leathers and sometimes it just takes a certain eye to tweak the leather so you can add a certain burnish or antique to get it to the right type of look.
Q: What do you look forward to personally wearing from the fall collection this coming season and why?
A: I’d definitely say the Normandy boot. It’s just the softest leather. I think it’s a great look. Perfect for fall. It’s soft against your ankles and has a good weight to it so it really feels like a true boot. Excited on that one. Oh the Cornwalis as well. Nice medallion toe. That’s another personal favorite. Another pattern that I worked on. It is a dressier silhouette, it’s a 1943 last, it’s got a higher cone, a pointier toe. It’s still in our wheel house, it’s still what we do, and it’s definitely a newer look for us. You wear it with suits. But I’d wear it with a blazer, a nice button up, I’d still wear the dark denim.