Known for clean lines, simple shapes and luxurious fabrics, Eileen Fisher creates timeless clothes designed for real life. Her line features pieces that work together, through every season and over time. Shoes are the newest addition to the brand and follow in the footsteps of her clothing and accessories, giving women a complete head to toe look.
Q: Who is the typical Eileen Fisher woman?
A: In the beginning, my typical customers were creative, artistic types who didn’t have to wear corporate clothes. As the workplace for women has changed, so has our customer. We’ve invited more women into the brand as we’ve added new shapes and fabrics. She’s busy and interested in many things and wants to wear clothes that she looks and feels good in. She needs clothes that meet the needs of her lifestyle — she wants to wear pieces that are versatile and edgy but totally accessible at the same time.
Q: Where do you draw most of your inspiration for your designs?
A: I’m inspired by so much, especially the way shape, texture and proportion work together. My original inspiration came from a trip to Japan where I fell in love with the kimono. The kimono is a shape that has been used for 1,100 years. The simpler the piece the more possibilities it has.
I am also very intrigued by the way women across generations put the clothes together. I watch the way my daughter, who is 19, dresses and the way the women in our company put different pieces together. Recently I was in Istanbul at a women’s conference. I loved seeing young women blending Western skinny jeans with traditional pieces. There was lots of layering and scarves too.
Q: Who are your major influences?
A: The Hudson River near my house, nature and natural fabrics, global cultures and my friends, my daughter … I think a lot about how clothes can support women’s lives and how we can help a customer get dressed easily so she can focus on the things she really cares about.
Q: What’s the ultimate message you want to get across through introducing shoes to your line?
A: For me, introducing shoes was the logical next step for the brand. We already had accessories, such as belts, bags and scarves. Our clothes can be simple. Sometimes it’s the shoe that brings out the edge in what we do. We love being able to dress our customer from head to toe.
Q: Did you attend school for design or are you self-taught?
A: I didn’t attend design school; in college, I started out as a math major because I was good at it. I ended up getting a degree in Home Economics from the University of Illinois.
After college, I moved to New York. I worked in graphic and interior design studios and became immersed in the world of bringing ideas to fruition. I discovered my passion for textiles — for fabric and color. For 5 years the concept for the clothes percolated in my mind. I yearned for shapes that were the essence of simplicity and that worked together in many different ways. Finding the confidence to make the first samples was probably my biggest challenge. I remember cutting the fabric for my first 4 pieces on the floor of the loft I lived in. Self-taught about sums things up!
Q: What are some key trends we will see from your line next season?
A: We’re interested in colorblocking, enveloping necklines, silk shirting and glovelettes with bright color and stripes — my personal passion. Trends for us are an influence, not a destination. Many of the ideas behind fall are a continuum.
An important one that inspires the shoe team is draping with soft unlined leather. You can see it on the Jaunt which has an unlined boot shaft that can be worn slouchy over leggings and jeans or straight with a tunic dress. The Draw is an open-toe wedge that also uses this soft unlined leather to frame your foot.
I always love flats and think they will be especially important for fall 2012. Our flats, such as the Patch and Quilt, are simple but have a very cool edge. They look like a ballerina flat but have a “V” shape at the toe. Map is a new moccasin driver in a very simple clean-lined shape.
Q: Which shoe should no woman be without?
A: For me, a ballet flat is a go-to style. The design is timeless and the shape lends itself to many looks. But I have to say that I judge shoes not just by how they look but how they feel. It’s the same lens we use for our clothing. Does it make you feel really good, can you really move in it? I don’t want to make shoes that sit in women’s closets.
Q: Tell us about a shoe you will never forget.
A: When I was 8 years old and starting third grade, I saw a “perfect” pair of saddle shoes in an advertisement somewhere. They were a slimmer style and had black crepe soles instead of the more common and clunky version that had orange rubber soles. My parents drove around town to every shoe store in the area until they were finally able to locate these “perfect” shoes. My sisters still joke that I would rather have worn beat-up summer Keds on the first day of school than settle for a pair that was less than perfect.
Shop our selection of Eileen Fisher here.
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