Shoe Guru Meghan Cleary Debuts New Collection at Nordstrom
The veteran footwear expert opens up about MeghanSAYS, her brand new line of quirky heels and flats in punchy prints and materials.
Sure, we all like shoes — some of us may even go as far to say that we love shoes. But that love ain't got nothing on shoe expert Meghan Cleary's love and knowledge of all things pumps, flats, stilettos, boots, sneakers ... you get the idea.
So it's only natural that the author, consultant, show host and Pret-a-Reporter contributor would take her shoe love to the next level by — what else? — launching her collection, called MeghanSAYS, with retail partner Nordstrom.
The cheeky and colorful collection, priced between $98 and $168, is now available online — just in time to snag a bright and quirky pair for that statement-making fashion lover on your list.
To celebrate the writer-turned-designer's new line, Pret-a-Reporter caught up with Cleary to chat about her inspiration, her favorite shoe and, to borrow her trademarked line, what her new shoes say about her.
What was it like transitioning from writer to designer? Had this always been a goal of yours?
The whole thing was really synergistic — I've been covering shoes for about eight years in my books, red-carpet appearances and my writing, and everywhere I would go, women (and men surprisingly!) would hear I was a shoe expert and immediately start unloading all of their shoe loves and hates to me, their pet peeves and asking where they could find that perfect black ballet flat, what to wear to an event, how to walk in heels — literally every shoe question you could imagine. I became the aggregate of all shoe desires!
There's this new trend with people like me who have all this direct access to women consumers and what they want, creating a product and taking all that information into consideration. Emily Weiss of Into the Gloss has just nailed it. Her line Glossier was born out of what she kept hearing women asking for in beauty on her blog, and, similar to us, she polls her audience when she goes into development. We run our designs by my audience and they've directly influenced colors, shapes and details.
Our retail partner, Nordstrom, is extremely customer-focused as well — they have an amazing 360-degree approach to shopping that is totally customer-centric and, of course, they are the ultimate retailer when it comes to shoes. It's just amazing to be able to work with them, a serious dream come true.
My writing background comes in handy when I'm communicating about the line, and continuing to write feeds my natural curiosity about everything shoes. I'm always so interested in the psychological aspects of shoes — what they say about the wearer, people's stories behind their shoes. I love interviewing people about their shoes and hearing from designers, celebrities and stylists is always so fascinating. Shoes are often a cultural barometer as well. They can reflect attitudes and trends in society at large, and I love that anthropological aspect of footwear.
What was the inspiration behind the collection?
Not only what women want in shoes, but I saw a gap in the marketplace for well-made shoes that incorporated whimsy and a fun, spirited vibe. There is so much fun to be had in footwear right now, and I could sense my audience wanted to be part of that fun, but in a classic kind of way. I know women like a bit of comfort in their shoes as well, so we have rubber soles for extra flexibility, faux-suede cushions in the ball of the foot, and our flats are designed to feel good on the foot. We're not a comfort line but we worked hard on making sure the shapes we created were classic and comfortable.
The majority of shoe manufacturers and designers are men making shoes for women. In fact, almost 90 percent of the footwear manufacturers as represented by Footwear News' Power 100 list are men catering to purchasers who are predominantly women. Now, some of my favorite shoe designers of all time are men, but I also think having a woman listen closely to other women and design what women are saying they want is also a good thing.
Where do you see women wearing your shoes?
I see women wearing the ballet flat for a chic, easy solution to that perfect running-around shoe. It's got a square toe, so it looks really cute on every foot, and we did it in our "basic" black, which is a lizard-embossed leather, and a whole bunch of fun, punchy prints. It has a lot of pizazz, so you can add that exclamation point to your everyday outfit without having to think about it.
Our pointy-toe pump is all business from the front, and the heel is a very on-trend block heel. We did contrast heels with the floral, a fuchsia heel, and in the denim with a raffia heel, so it's playful but really wearable.
The black pump I can see as the go-to office shoe. It's just sophisticated and easy. I see the mule with midi skirts and dresses for a really classic silhouette — that full skirt with a high-heel is so sexy yet classic at the same time. But you could just as easily pair it with skinny jeans and a white tank and a jacket or do some volume play with wide-legged flowy pants and a crop.
Plans for expansion or more collections in the future?
We are going to introduce some new shapes for fall — I'm so excited. I've been working on a bootie and a really cute Mary Jane in more mixed materials.
To borrow your own line, what would you say your new shoe collection says about you?
I think it says I like to have fun, but that I have a practical side, too. It's my Midwestern upbringing coming out!
Favorite shoe of the collection and why? What outfit would you wear with it?
My favorite right now is the fuchsia floral 'TMI' mule — I've been wearing it with a midi dress in navy from Cos, and it just adds that punch and takes the whole ensemble up a notch. They are so easy to wear, have a really sexy shape and are super comfortable, which is key for me!