French shoe brand Soloviere keeps it simple with new silhouettes and an eye for detail
Move over Common Projects – Soloviere is the new understated shoe brand to invest in, with owner/shoemaker Alexia Aubert creating unique styles with exceptionally high quality
French brand Soloviere is the casual shoe brand that everyone is talking about. The independent label was launched by French shoemaker Alexia Aubert in 2014 with two simple styles – the Pantome loafer and the Matthieu, a supersoft slipper featuring a folded tongue – now the brand’s signature, which Aubert says was inspired by the way a couturier drapes fabric.
“I had a vision for men’s shoes. I wanted to create new silhouettes that weren’t in the market. I imagined a new way of closing shoes that still looked elegant. We used only one last and one piece of leather with minimal stitching. I didn’t want to do a trend thing. I wanted to create a Tod’s type of shoe – something you wanted to have in every colour,” she says.
Aubert knows a thing or two about the business. At the age of 21 she made the decision to study shoemaking (“not design,” she asserts), making her one of the few women in the then male-dominated industry. She went on to work alongside greats such as Christian Louboutin and Pierre Hardy, giving her a solid foundation that helped her launch her own label.
“Louboutin used to spend a lot of time in the factory, forming close relationships with the workers. I learned the more time you spent taking part in the evolution of the shoe, the better it is. Pierre taught me that design is all from the imagination. Rather than get inspired by vintage or books, everything comes from my own mind. When I create a style, I can truly say it’s my own,” she says.
As soon as Soloviere launched, the industry took notice. The brand was picked up by hip boutiques such as Colette in Paris and Kapok in Hong Kong, where it has been available since its debut season. Aubert went on to win a Special Jury Award in the “Who is on next?” competition at Italian fair Pitti Uomo, resulting in the media hailing the brand as the “next Common Projects,” of footwear. So what exactly is all the fuss about?
Soloviere’s appeal lies in its simple yet thoughtful details. Many styles are made using one piece of leather which folds at the centre to form a pleat (which replaces a traditional shoe tongue). Others come with foldable backs that slip on easily. Laces are made from waxed leather. Sneakers come with double padded insole technology and fit the foot like a second skin. A stickler for quality, Aubert only uses calf leather and suede, with everything produced in Italy predominantly by hand.
The current collection includes 10 styles, many of which have become unisex, thanks to a growing number of female clients. New additions include sneakers, a ballerina shoe based on babouches and travel loafers.
“I think people gravitate towards the cleanness of my design. There’s no logo, no bling, just a shoe, but a different shoe. I’m not trying to tell any stories. My customers just want to slip their foot into something easy and well made. Quality is so important.”
Aubert plans to launch a women’s collection for autumn/winter 2018 featuring a wider offering of styles, including strappy sandals, heels and cage mules. “Honestly, I am not rushing to expand the brand. The market is oversaturated – everyone has an ‘it’ shoe. It’s a bit disgusting when I see those shoe districts in department stores because there’s so much out there. I think it’s a nicer story when it’s a brand that is more specialised, with a coherent vision.”