A look inside the creative world of Spanish-based shoe designer Chie Mihara. Delving into the inspirations and stories that inform her unique designs, we reveal the complexity and depth behind her collections.
A household name for her practical approach to shoe design, whilst also maintaining a fun and feminine aesthetic - Brazilian born shoe designer Chie Mihara is every woman’s dream designer, for her comfortable yet creative foot furniture.
Working “in a man’s” industry as she describes it, in order to offer something different, the Alicante-based designer, who launched her shoe line in Elda, Spain, in January 2002, prides her brand on “footwear designed by woman for women.”
Architecture and craftsmanship is at the core the Chie Mihara designs. She believes comfort and design are married together - her designs tailor to the modern, active woman, who wants to look “attractive but without giving up comfort.”
Since her first collection in 2010, the designer has reflected an intrinsic vintage influence, predominantly from the 1970s, an era she describes was a “great decade of expressing oneself and breaking social barriers,” though she draws on various style inspiration, from 1930s femininity to 1980s humour. Her latest eclectic collection is inspired chiefly by Disney, with Cruella Deville, Mickey and Sleeping beauty particularly influencing her designs.
The iconic clean shapes, semi square toes, simple soles and flat bows widespread throughout Miharas designs, display her real passion for the 1960s. We see the 70s influence with the use of irregular lines and geometrical shapes in black and white, as well as metallic suede, perforated leather and platforms.
When creating her collections, Mihara draws on facets of her multicultural background, she believes the Brazilian influence informs the feminine details, the American influence contributes to the practicality and comfort, the Japanese influences the slightly more abstract approach to design, and the European crucially is reflected in the quality. She says: “when you talk about quality, you really are talking about Spain…there is no other place in the world that can make a decent level of quality.”
Each product is crafted with meticulous care, working in a mathematical sense, Mihara plays around with volumes until she is assured it provides optimal comfort. When creating, the designer likes to emerge into her own world of playing, enter into a free spirit and revert back to child-like ways of playing. Seeing each product in its own individual world, Mihara says she does not produce collections, but items.
She says: “creativity is the light of humanity, if there is no creativity there is no life… My personal view is that there's no need to suppress creativity because of social, economic and political factors, because art is the hope of mankind. Without art or creativity, there's no life! So, why limit our imagination? We should grow and prosper to the highest levels!"
The designer derives a variety of inspiration from museums, art galleries and her collection of books on pattern making, packaging design and illustrations that have nothing to do with shoes. She says: “sometimes you find a book with patterns, or flower patterns and it’s the colour combination you’re looking for.”
The truly unique designs emerge out of Mihara’s innovative techniques she practices to find the right compilation of colours. From placing small cutouts of the outlines of shoes on a magazine page to find the perfect palette, to playing around with pieces of leather she has cut in various shapes, to adding straps and ornaments to her feet - the exquisite footwear is born out of her organic creative flare.
Working with the philosophy that the instantaneous emotion felt when a consumer looks at her products is key, and the comfort, quality, and price of her handcrafted shoes are taken into account subsequently, Mihara focuses on channeling her fun loving energy into her shoes. She wants women to visually and emotionally connect with her shoes, which is why when working on each design she believes it is so important to feel genuine excitement which she can transmit that into the product, so women can receive her energy and “fall in love” with her creations.
She says: “if you put passion in something and you really feel that your heart is coming, and you feel so great about what you’re doing, in the end, that product maybe six or eight months later, maybe thousands of kilometres away - somebody is going to feel that same thing you felt.”
Graduating in fashion design at the Kyushu Design Gakkuin in Fukuoka Japan and accessories design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, where she focused on shoes and handbags, Mihara said: “after a few months doing sculpture I really felt the need to have fashion with me, so I thought whats the combination of both things - and for me the answer was so clear - I can just remember now - shoes… and since then i’m so addicted into shoes!”
Mihara says she loves the concept of setting up a new children's line - a challenge she believes will be easy as her collection is “already very sweet.” She sees the Chie Mihara brand expanding and setting up new stores in Berlin and Paris, to add to her Tokyo store and outlet in Elda, Spain.