A Chat With... ESTHER HARRIS

Now that the temperatures are screaming for the summer and feet undress in revealing shoes, we went to meet Esther Harris, the designer responsible for the only2me brand shoes. In this edition, she reveals how it all began and what we can expect in the next collections!

Esther, what was your professional experience before you came to only2me? 
My journey in the shoe world began in Northamptonshire, a city in England with a strong tradition in leather footwear. Back then, I worked at Lobb and it was during a workshop organized by the company that I learnt various shoe-making techniques and processes. After Lobb, I worked at Clarks, this time in the manufacture of women’s footwear, an experience that awakened my interest in going to work in Asia. So, in 2008 I moved to Vietnam and started working in the manufacture of casual and athletic footwear and even football boots.

The move to Porto, last year, gave me the opportunity to start designing the only2me collections. As you can see, my career has been diversified but never dull! How did your interest in shoes arise? 
When I was young, I used to spend a lot of time in my dad’s men’s clothing store. I remember that there was always scraps of material and fabric left over that I used to play and experiment with. However, back then I thought that the world of fashion wasn’t for me. That all changed when, years later, I decided to travel to Morocco. This experience showed me that I could work and at the same time, do magnificent things with leather. That’s when it clicked: I wanted to make shoes! Since then I’ve loved working in an industry where I feel people really have a passion for what they do.  

You now live in Porto. What do you like most about this country? 
There are lots of things I adore in Portugal. The geography is amazing, beautiful beaches, mountains and vibrant cities. The Portuguese are charming, the food is delicious and Portugal makes great shoes of course.
 

What types of shoes are an essential part of your wardrobe? 
I spend most of the time wearing flat shoes and therefore lace-up leather shoes, trainers and Sabrinas are essential. But, of course, I have my favourite high heels for special occasions.

What motivates you to design shoes? What inspires you? 
Inspiration is everywhere! A lot of it comes from travelling, when I get to visit completely different places. But inspiration can also come from the melody of a song, from an interesting silhouette of even from a combination of textures and colours. I try to channel everyday inspiration into wearable shoes.

Do you prefer designing summer or winter shoes? Why? 
I like designing for both seasons and for different reasons. For winter, shoes have to have different forms. Rich colours, in marvellous leathers and interesting details. Summer, on the other hand, is a little different. For the summer, I like to make the most of the use of prints and fabrics but, above all, one mustn’t forget that what’s important is revealing the foot’s potential.

What makes Portuguese footwear different from the rest? 
Portuguese footwear distinguishes itself due to the use of excellent materials and the high level of production capacity. The number of high quality international brands that choose to produce their footwear here in Portugal is the proof of this. 

Is there a fashion icon that you particularly associate to perfect footwear? 
Not exactly… I think shoes are just a part of a fashion icon’s overall look.

What can be expected from only2me in the future? 
The only2me autumn/winter collection will be ready soon… We can expect some classical styles but now with a touch of modernity, achieved through the use of surprising colours in short or long boots, with details. There’s also going to be a new model designed in conjunction with the fashion designer, Katty Xiomara. Enjoy!