02.05.17

The Fashion Brand Letting You design Your Own Shoes

Kira Simpson

Inspired by strong women such as headstrong socialite Elsie de Wolfe and jazz musician Billie Holiday, Alterre was born from a love of fashion and a need for comfort without sacrificing style.

Founders Shilpa and Harmony are on a mission to stop women from hobbling around the street in uncomfortable, unpractical shoes.

We chatted with Shilpa about style, sustainability and what’s on the cards for the future.

The Brand

Let’s start with the obvious, Alterre is a line of interchangeable shoes.

But to us it’s much more than that.

It’s a solution to saving space in your closet, travelling light, and creating less waste. We are practical ladies and we know that there are many more out there who want comfortable, versatile shoes that you can feel good about.

Our line is inspired by strong women and we name each strap style (look) after a woman we admire. We also donate 5% of our profits to a local charity called Restore NY, which helps women who have been sex-trafficked into New York through long-term housing and education.

Behind-the-scenes there are just two of us at the studio and we pretty much do everything except actually make the shoes.

We did make the original prototypes and we keep them in a box to have a good laugh once in a while. Now we have a lovely team of people in Brazil who do the producing and we’re happy to have worked with them in person (Harmony has even packed some of the shoes at the factory!).

Other than that we have a couple advisors who help with the business development. We’re happy to be a small team because we can make decisions quickly and seize new opportunities at a pace that is vital for establishing a new brand.

alterre shoes

"We combined our fashion expertise to make a shoe line that we wanted to appeal to all types of women, and that would be wearable for everyone."

alterre shoes

Sustainable Style

There are a few modular shoe lines out there, but what separates us is that you can actually change our looks (straps) between heel heights.

This way you can have a work shoe and get a sandal base for the summer and still wear all the looks you already have!

This is pretty complicated in terms of design but we really wanted products that were truly versatile, so we put in the extra effort.

We donate 5% to Restore NY, a local long-term rehabilitation center for victims of sex-trafficking, which is unique to our brand.

We believe that everyone should get paid and treated fairly, period.

We’re strong believers that you should treat others as you would like to be treated and I would never want someone to take advantage of me to get their bottom line down in terms of price.

The world needs more understanding about quality, comfort, and the effects of Fast fashion globally.

Knowledge is Power and there are many aspects of the industry that are not as transparent as they could be.

If we can lift those blinds even in the smallest way, it places more power in the hands of the consumer.

Our Growth

It’s amazing to see a concept actually come to fruition and do well in the market. It’s rewarding to see that we actually are solving problems for women and that they really love the shoes and keep coming back for more.

When we originally started out on this venture we thought we’d have shoes in the market in 6 months. Fast forward 3 years when we actually released our product. It’s a really long road establishing a brand and gaining trust with people who might be interested in our idea.

We’ve been fortunate so far and we’re only a couple of seasons in, so hopefully things keep looking up. But there are ups and downs everyday and we kept telling ourselves to be patient because we’re in it for the long haul and look how far we’ve come already!

The Future

World domination! Just kidding.

Immediately we’re working on expanding our size range to include wide and larger sizes (the first pairs come out in black mules in a week). We also are designing some new styles in both shoes and straps that will really fill out the collection and make it more evening wear friendly.

All of these are developments from feedback we’ve had over the last few seasons. Since we’re a small company we really take it to heart when we’re designing. So let us know if there’s something you want to see next!

 

Kira Simpson

Founder + Director of The Green Hub, an urban green living advocate and coffee obsessive. She believes there is no one size fits all green lifestyle and we can all live more sustainably in a way that fits in with each of our unique lifestyles.