Pretty feet

Kathryn Wilson

At the helm of one of New Zealand’s fastest growing fashion brands sits Kathryn Wilson; enigmatic and very easy going, we sat down with her to chat about design and life.

In just ten years Kathryn Wilson has established herself as an outstanding designer of footwear, consistently producing high demand collections and becoming a driving force in New Zealand fashion. Her footwear speaks of sophistication and elegance; sleek, classic designs intended to carry you through any eventuality.

What is the most memorable thing that you have designed?

The first shoe that I designed was a ballet shoe. I always think of that as the romance of where the brand began. We did one style in 2002 with eight different colours to test the market and see what people thought of the styling. With the success of that we then launched the brand in 2003 with seven styles. The ballet shoe is a timeless classic, it never seems to date. I love appreciating long-term styling that you can wear long after the season has passed.

What is a typical day for you like?

I have a three year old daughter so it starts with a bang! Usually a song or a story in bed before checking in with my team at KW Footwear HQ in Herne Bay who run the day-to-day operations and workings of the brand. We have three retail stores in Auckland – Britomart, Newmarket and Herne Bay - and over 80 stockists throughout NZ along with online. My time is spent developing the brand further with marketing activation and brand partnerships  which bring opportunities to align our brand with other companies and access their customer base. Design is seasonal, Spring / Summer and Autumn / Winter, with only a three week turnaround to put a range together, and it’s always a joy and a privilege to actually be designing… putting pencil to paper! Of course there are always operational jobs like meeting with accountants, strategic planners, shipping companies and advertising managers.

That sounds really busy?

We really encourage our team to be involved right across the business and be motivated to expand their knowledge and learn more about particular areas that they are passionate about, so they help a lot with this.

Is there a favourite place your travels have taken you?

My absolute favourite city is Tokyo. I just love the people, the culture, the food… everything about it! It’s a huge inspiration, and from a styling point of view, the way they can pull together such a huge mix of styles, such as a vintage 70’s cap with scruffy Converse shoes, and totally pull it off;  I just find that so intriguing because they’re not really following dictated trends.  It’s is different to the rest of the world.

Do you think that New Zealand follows these dictated trends or do we have more of a varied and unique style?

I would like to think that we are quite unique and not really dressing as a clan. New Zealanders, in my experience, like to stand out or have something a little innovative that’s different from everyone else, and we try to incorporate this into our design.