When I started this blog, I knew I wanted to keep up with the trends, all trends - lifestyle, fashion, beauty - including, my obsession with perfume and candles.
But, I also knew I had to follow my favorite saying, 'Don't let 'em put you in a box.' I live by this saying, and so I knew I had to write by it as well. BY NEESHA ARTER will be a destination for all people, and all people wear shoes. So, I thought about who is leading the men's fashion world and Noah Waxman instantly came to mind. He's a New York based shoe designer and a pioneer in men's style.
When I first met Noah, I was impressed by his background in design, beginning with his time as a cobbler. His designs reflect his attention to detail and his worldly outlook on life. Having spent ten years in Amsterdam learning how to make shoes, he combines his knowledge from everywhere he’s been to make versatile and top-quality shoes. He told me, “Shoemaking is an old art, so much of it needs to be done by hand to make a good shoe.” Most designers I meet and interview don’t care about the history and the story behind shoemaking. They don’t master the technique and the craftsmanship, but Noah does. He cares deeply for everyone in his life and the work he puts into the world.
He took the time to chat with me about all things fashion, design and what it means to be brave as an artist.
NA: What does being a shoe designer mean to you?
NW: Shoes bring together a bunch of elements that excite me, creatively and scientifically. Shoes support us throughout our day. They are a fundamental piece of armor, but shoes also say so much about who we are and how we want to interact with the world around us. So I feel the fun part and the responsible part of designing shoes in equal measure.
NA: What's the bravest thing you can do as an artist?
NW: I love to give others permission to explore—explore their world, explore their style, explore themselves. I see customers pick up a shoe in my shop that they're a bit tentative about....maybe the color is bold for them, maybe it's a new silhouette....and they try it and kind of become someone new a bit, or maybe just get in touch with a new part of themselves. That's so great to see, and have a hand in.
NA: How do you come up with your designs?
NW: I'm always playing with color. My favorite colors for shoes are green and deep red. I find them underutilized in footwear generally, and so beautiful. When I'm working on a new design, I'm synthesizing new and sometimes wild colors and materials, but I need to keep the final shoe looking smart and wearing well.
NA: What have been your most popular shoes and why do you think people come back to them?
NW: I have a low boot called the Beacon that's been popular for several years. It's a tough boot, but elegant enough to dress up. I created a last with a perfectly balanced toe character that's at once fresh and timeless. And we make some unique special editions of the Beacon, alongside the classics... shrunken American bison with shearling lining, loden green pull-up leather, dark cherry oxblood leather and, coming this season, a limited-edition shell cordovan Beacon.
My sneaker collection has also grown a lot over the last few seasons. There's a style called the Perry, named for the street in Greenwich Village where I opened my first shop, that has been really successful. When I first launched the shoe, I had only men's sizes on hand. But women started asking for this shoe in my shop, and we've now expanded into women's sizes...and some cool new colors.
NA: What can we expect to see from you the rest of 2018?
NW: I have a new collection, infused with another great passion of mine—music—arriving next month. Look out for some distressed leather zip-up boots and lots of deep reds.
We just expanded our NYC shop and I'm looking forward to hosting other designers who share my love of well-crafted goods.
NA: Advice you'd give your 25 year old self?
NW: So many things..... Mainly to listen to myself more. Which is quite difficult to even do most of the time. But I'm learning to tune in better.
NA: Where do you come up with your designs?
NW: Primarily my own closet. If there's a style I am missing or some feeling I can't seem to get from my other shoes, I start working on what that is. It often evolves into something completely new along the way. But whatever that emotion was that led me to something, I want that somewhere in the new shoe.
NA: Where do you gather inspiration?
NW: From daily life. I love designing beautiful, special shoes. But it's important to me that my shoes function in a workaday way—packing for a business trip, shopping for groceries, picking up the kids, dressing up for a date... Shoes are amazing objects but they shouldn't be too precious. People need to be able to simply live their lives in them.