A.Emery Designer Anna McLaren Interview

A.Emery Designer Anna McLaren Interview | The UNDONE

It’s been­­­ 5 years since A.Emery’s first collection of black leather sandals landed on our feet in 2017. Looking back, and taking a moment to reflect can sometimes be forgotten as a founder, but we would love for you to talk us through the biggest changes to the brand and highlights along the way.

Anna: It’s hard to believe it’s been almost 5 years since we launched - I am so incredibly proud of what has been achieved during these years. Starting a business humbles you, it is exciting, exhausting, and overwhelming in the best of ways and sometimes the worst.

There have been some incredible highlights over these years, collaborating with fellow Australian label Matteau, growing our business into international markets and growing our team. In saying this though, seeing people wearing our styles on the street is the biggest highlight of them all.

Your design collaboration with one of our favourite ready to wear brands Matteau feels like a match made in heaven. How did that relationship come about and how has it impacted your business?

Anna: The brand alignment started back in 2018 when we were approached to provide the footwear for Matteau’s first runway showcase in 2019. Through this a friendship blossomed between myself and Peta and Ilona, our ideals align in all facets, style, quality as well as the way we like to manage our businesses.

In Jan 2020 we were on a sales trip together in Paris and over a lovely pasta lunch decided that it would be great to work on some collaboration styles together. Little did we know we wouldn’t meet face to face for another 2 ½ years! Lots of zoom calls and emails has grown into a lovely collaborative partnership designing sandals that sit so effortlessly back with Matteau’s immaculate collections.

The collaboration has impacted our business as we have been growing our brands side by side, learning along the way and supporting each other. Women in business supporting each other is an incredible thing, and I will be forever grateful for the friendship and guidance that Peta and Ilona have offered me.

Although we’ve just launched your Resort 23 collection, we can’t help but ask about your boots, which were an instant essential. Is developing more closed in shoes on the horizon for the brand? How does designing sandals differ from boots and winter shoes?

Anna: The boots are beautiful, I must say. Working with the best boot makers in Italy has been an amazing experience – their expertise is next level and this can really be seen in the product.

As we grow we are excited to be offering more categories, taking our time sourcing the best makers that hit our high quality standards. There is definitely a broader offering on the horizon.

A.Emery Designer Anna McLaren Interview | The UNDONE

You’ve mentioned before that you want to offer the best quality shoe at the best price for the customer. What are your non negotiables with designing your collections to execute this brand positioning?

Anna: Yes, this is really important to me. Quality is number one, but also I want women all around the world to be able to wear our styles.

To me, really what it comes down to is using regions of the world that specialise in a certain product. Our sandals are hand made in India, India has a deep rooted history of hand leather work and sandals is a category that they excel in. Working with 2 incredible factories here enables us to keep our sandal prices approachable.

When it comes to boots no one makes them better than Italy. Boots, both flat and heeled are pieces that you want, and should have in your wardrobe for years on end, re-soling and repairing where necessary. This is how I come to justify the higher price point.

In the last 5 years you’ve become a mum to now two beautiful little people, has your shoe style changed over this period? What’s the best ‘mum on the go’ shoe you would recommend?

Anna: Yes, it’s been a very big couple of years, navigating a new business, two babies and a pandemic is not for the faint hearted, but it has been the best ride. As you know, flats are always my go-to, even before having kids. The style on highest rotation has to be the Jalen sandal in black, the moulded footbed is incredibly comfortable and the ankle strap means they are always securely on my feet.

Designing footwear can be a challenging process, can you talk us through the process of what it takes to design and manufacture shoes?

Anna: My background is actually in womenswear, rather than footwear, so I have learnt a lot along the way. In saying this the process of finding the right supplier and product development is similar. Technically, footwear is very different to apparel, so thankfully I have my suppliers to lean on in this regard. They help me through a lot of the steps. I design and sketch everything up, with details in mind and then I converse back and forward over email with my supplier as to the best way to create our styles. They may look minimal, but a lot of effort goes into the little details that may remain unseen.

A.Emery Designer Anna McLaren Interview | The UNDONE

What’s your advice for getting longevity out of your sandals? Eg. Alternating styles so you’re not wearing the same one every day, re-soling, waterproofing, storage tips etc.

Anna: My biggest tip is to try not to wear them in the wet – sandals are our fair weathered friends – especially leather sandals. If they do get wet, ensuring they are thoroughly dry before putting away is really important.

My other tip is, consider your day ahead, our moulded footbed styles are perfect for a full day of walking as they have a rubber sole.

What’s in the pipeline for A.Emery?

Anna: We are working on a very big project right now, though sadly won’t be launching until next summer – but I cannot wait to show you!

How would you describe your style?

Anna: I’d say, minimal, laid-back classic. 

What are your wardrobe essentials?

Anna: Black tailored pants, every single day. Paired back with a crew neck sweat or t-shirt and sandals (unless it’s the height of Melbourne winter). I am very much a uniform dresser.

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