It has been two years since Icelandic fashion label KALDA successfully reinvented itself as a shoe label. We spoke to head designer Katrín Alda Rafnsdóttir.
I have always been obsessed with shoes. After having spent some time designing clothes, I decided to shift gears and focus on shoes instead. It just felt like the natural way to go.
How is designing shoes different from designing clothing?
It takes a lot of time and effort to develop a shoe. Technically it’s a lot more complicated than clothing and it takes longer time in development. You need to think about the right fit, comfort, structure and wearability in a different way than clothes.
What is your design process like?
When I started the shoes I wanted a clean slate. Although the shoes are obviously a continuation of KALDA, they are a new product and I started from scratch. I went back to my roots, choosing materials that I was surrounded by while growing up. I thought a lot about my aesthetic in the process of designing the shoes. In general, I’m very curious about why certain things inspire us.
I grew up in the small town of Thorshöfn in the northeast of Iceland. My dad worked in the town’s fish factory and I often worked with him. For my first collection, I worked with the Icelandic tannery Atlantic Leather to create a patchwork boot with salmon skin and that is something that we will continue to develop. I think it’s important to go to your roots when creating something original.
Where are you based?
I split my time evenly between Iceland, London and New York at the moment.
Why is the company registered in Iceland?
Because we are Icelandic! And it is one of our markets, too. Being Icelandic is very important to us. Iceland felt very remote when I was growing up. You had to make do with what was around you and trust your own gut. I think it’s good to be aware of what’s happening around you, and I read magazines and follow what’s going on, but I always take it with a pinch of salt. When you’ve been excluded from the outside world, you learn to rely on yourself.
Being Icelandic also helps KALDA stand out from the competition. That being said, we need to get to the buyers and the press, and they won’t come to us in Iceland. Instead, we need to go to them. Going to trade shows, fashion weeks and showrooms is very important to gain exposure.
Who are the KALDA shoes designed for?
The concept is creative, individual statement shoes at reasonable prices.
I don’t have a specific girl in mind, but she is comfortable expressing herself by dressing up. From the start, I wanted the shoes to be comfortable – they are for girls who are independent and on the go. The heels are never higher than 10 cm, so you can walk in them throughout the day and well into the night. Looking uncomfortable is something I don’t want for my girls. There needs to be something a little bit different about shoes; they can’t be too normal.
Shoes need to catch your eye. They need to have an element of surprise. If I’m playing it safe with my design, I know the shoes won’t be right.
Kalda fæst í Browns London, Shopbop, Moda Operandi og Yeoman á íslandi
Interview: Sari Peltonen / Photos : ?