Good shoes take you to good places. For Vania Romoff, she’s been navigating the changes and challenges of the past eight months in multi-strap sandals of her own design.
“I wanted the perfect everyday heel,” she explains, the process beginning as early as February.
It hasn’t been an easy year. From offering custom, bridal and retail collections, the fashion designer known for her modern, feminine design sensibilities had to shut down more than half of her production capacity during the first half of the year and focused on ready-to-wear. When quarantine restrictions were eased, she released very Vania silk and jacquard masks and protective outerwear sets with frilly, ruched sleeves to sustain jobs in her production team.
In her personal life, Vania was juggling work with moving into a bigger house to call home — more room for her growing family, now that she is pregnant with twins, four years after she had her daughter, Emilia.
While this was happening, the outerwear sets became a big hit. With our everyday looking a lot more different than it used to be, its success spurred The Essentials subcategory of elevated everyday essentials. Think Gwyneth Paltrow’s unforgettable Paris Green silk set in Great Expectations and her seaside looks in The Talented Mr. Ripley, sold at price points lower than the RTW from her brand. Her bridal line will go RTW, too, focusing on easier, practical white gowns, dresses and separates that are targeted towards brides who have shifted to more intimate weddings and civil ceremonies.
Vania is optimistic that people will want to invest in beautiful things. She has told YStyle, “Fashion, although not an essential at the moment, is still inspirational. People will want to be inspired again.” The shoes are a perfect example. All made from vegan leather, every sole, strap and screw is put together slowly by hand by Filipino craftsmen, so pairs are limited.
The two styles, a two-strap sandal (P4,890) and multi-strap sandal (P4,950), both with a timeless square-toe silhouette and kitten heel — an elegant compromise between an uplifting heel and comfortable flats — are made in versatile, neutral color ways.
Describing the shoes, she swears, “I’m telling you, this is the comfiest and sexiest barely-there sandal of my dreams.”
YSTYLE: Why shoes? It’s part of your Essentials line, but has the idea to include a line of shoes (you already released bags and a scarf!) in the Vania Romoff brand always been in the works?
VANIA ROMOFF: Yes, we have released accessories in the past. The scarves and bags were styled and made for a particular collection because the process was more like “Let’s make something for the shoot,” but then, “It actually worked so well with the whole collection, so let’s try and reproduce them. This way, our clients can actually style and wear them with the pieces.”
But our Footwear Edit really stands alone. We made sure the styles transcended seasonality and worked with everything. We added it to the already existing Essentials arm of the brand, which started out with protective outerwear and masks.
How did you find your shoe maker?
It was the manufacturer who came to us and asked us if we wanted to try producing our own shoes. We found out that they produced them by hand in Marikina and that was really something I knew I wanted to involve myself with. In the past, we always borrowed shoes from other retailers who would allow pullouts. Most of which were always made outside of the Philippines. I thought that it made sense that if I were to produce my own shoe line, it would have to be something locally made.
It took you eight months to release this collection! What were the challenges of designing shoes as opposed to clothing?
There was, of course, the pandemic, which really challenged the entire process. Other than that, there was a lot of back and forth with the samples. I would wear them for a time to make sure they felt right. These were all handmade, so we knew turnover would be slower than usual, but that was okay. That was the beauty of it. A slow and dedicated process, much like how we make our clothes.
What sort of shoes have you been wearing during these challenging times?
Exactly these heels. I have been wearing them since we made the samples. I made sure to wear them regularly to test them out. So far it hasn’t fallen apart on me and I’ve worn them to bits — and I’m pregnant, so there’s also that additional weight! (Laughs) When I was younger, I wore stilettos. I don’t know how I survived. And then I learned about kitten heels and never looked back! Now, it’s always a good rotation of kitten heels, Birkenstocks and my Supergas.
Will you release more shoe styles in the future?
If all goes well and we get a good response then, hopefully, yes, maybe even the perfect flats?
Shop Vania Romoff online at www.vaniaromoff.ph, in-store at R2 Level, New Wing, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Center, Makati, or message (0999) 503 1222 for personal shopper service.