Marrakech to Copenhagen, the Amber Capewell shoe story
Today, in a busy coffee shop in Shoreditch, we sat down with Amber Capewell, a promising up-and-coming shoe designer. Having been nominated for the National Footwear Design Student of The Year Award, she is now working at LK Bennett with hopes of expanding the Amber Capewell brand in the near future. Amber Capewell shoes are inspired by a range of different aspects of life, from cities such as Marakesh and Copenhagen, to the everyday beauty of life.
What’s your favourite pair of shoes from your collection right now and why?
That’s a hard question because I of course designed all of them. However, the heeled shoes with the pearls are perhaps my favourite; it took quite a while to make them! It’s the culmination of a lot of intricate designing, theory and using delicate processes such as laser cutting.
However, slightly varying the question here, my favourite part of my shoes is the intricacies of them. I love how each shoe has its own unique design which varies form shoe to shoe.
Why did you choose to study footwear as opposed to fashion design or textiles, which might be a more common choice among students?
I found out that I wanted to become a shoe designer, while I was pursuing a Foundation Diploma at Northampton University and subsequently firming this career path at the London College of Fashion.
For me, the shoes are the best part of the outfit. It’s the part with which you can have the most fun and at the end, really pulls an entire outfit together.
In addition, considering that I am also very interested in both 3D art and fashion design - shoe design was the perfect fit for me!
Your shoes are absolutely exquisite and contain very unique designs and patterns. Do you sometimes find it difficult to create such innovative shoes without compromising on comfort?
This is definitely a difficult trade-off to account for when designing shoes. Heels aren’t exactly known for their comfort, but during my time at Ted Baker, a brand which strongly focuses on comfort, I learnt ways to achieve a good balance between the two. This means my shoes can indeed be stylish but also wearable!
How was it to be nominated for the National Footwear Design Student of The Year Award and how did you get nominated for this prize?
This was definitely one of the high points of my university experience! It was also a fantastic opportunity to meet with some of the leaders of the UK fashion industry, such as Nicholas Kirkwood.
I got nominated for this prize as a collection of the top fashion universities in the UK select students from their respective institutions, which they feel are worthy of this award. From there, external judges whittle down the nominees until the final round is announced.
What advice would you give aspiring students regarding the first steps to starting a label.
Firstly, I would tell them to use all their spare time doing fashion. For example, I sketch every morning and evening on my way to and from London. It’s a great way to note down any ideas you have and also just helps to completely immerse yourself in what you’re passionate about.
Secondly, I would say to get experience. There’s no need to rush into starting your own label and taking the time to learn not only the design side but also the business side too is critical.
Thirdly, be nice to everyone. I’ve learnt that, within an industry such as my own, everyone knows and speaks to everyone, so you definitely want to make a positive lasting impression on the people you meet. It’ll come in handy later on when you’re applying to jobs!
Which step do you find most difficult of designing a shoe?
While the shoe can become quite intricate through a lengthy and complicated design process, the stage which I’d say I’ve found to be the hardest is actually the inspiration stage. Ideas for shoes that are completely original and not just a re-imagination of something which is already out there are quite hard to come by.
So how do you find inspiration?
I know it sounds quite cliché, but travel plays a big role in inspiring my work. For example, trips to both Marrakech and Copenhagen directly inspired some of my favourite designs. After travelling to Copenhagen, knots became a feature of some of my shoes and after I visited Marrakech, the North African country’s rich architecture and colourful culture inspired a totally new collection of shoes.
But I also find inspiration in my day-to-day, social media, for instance, can really help explore lots of different styles, themes, colours and other cool content.
Are there any good resources you would suggest for an aspiring designer?
University and doing a foundation course are definitely things that helped me develop in my career. However, in terms of everyday accessible resources, the internet is a great resource to research designers, inspire yourself as a designer and explore future trends.
Want to see more of Amber? Check out her Ocotur