[C]amilla Elphick is a luxury shoe brand reminding us to have fun with our footwear. Championed by Kendall Jenner and icon of kitsch, Miley Cyrus, Camilla’s shoes are set to be filling everyone’s shoe racks with bright, vibrant statements inspired by everything from emojis to vaporwave. The Instagram friendly designs are also produced from ethically sourced materials, making them both sustainable and fabulous.
A graduate of the London College of Fashion, Camilla honed her shoe design skills working with Nicholas Kirkwood and Sophia Webster. We met with her recently to talk about finding inspiration from the digital world and building her brand on social media.
Hi Camilla, what made you want to start your own shoe brand?
I’ve always had a love of shoes and so went on to study shoe design, but it really began after graduating from London College of Fashion and working for a number of notable shoe designers that inspired me to start my own London-based shoe brand.
Your shoes are so fun and colourful – what does a typical mood board for a collection you’re working on look like?
Our mood boards are always fun and colourful, each season there is a new theme which we spend a lot of time researching and putting together. My team and I all sit together and pick out our favourite images, these can often be from artists or paintings. The mood board for AW was very surreal, we looked at Salvador Dali’s ‘Les Diners de Gala’ cookbook which is full of peculiar recipes. The AW mood board was quite unusual for us as it was very ornate and with very rich colour tones, but we were so pleased with how the collection has come to life! Generally, each season is very different, but our collections always has something fun or a twist.
How did the experience of working with designers such as Nicholas Kirkwood and Sophia Webster influence you?
It was so interesting to work behind the scenes within the shoe industry and to see how all aspects of a brand come together. I wanted to work with Nicholas and Sophia as I love their style, but I loved understanding how you can turn a design into something so beautiful on the foot. Their attention to detail was incredible and they spent hours doing fittings on the foot, I was involved in these and the experience was invaluable for how I look at my designs now.
Is considering comfort and practicality as important to you as aesthetics when designing?
Yes, absolutely. What’s quite nice is being able to wear the shoes myself to test the comfort and practicality of all of the shoes. At the beginning, we just created high heels and now we’ve developed a range to suit our customers’ everyday needs. These now include sneakers and day-to-night boots with a practical and wearable heel height. We have showstopper heels for special occasions and parties, but we make sure that everything practical still looks beautiful.
Why do we all get so obsessed about shoes?
Shoes are a way of expressing ourselves. I love that you can wear a totally black outfit and wear colourful shoes that really pop! Our shoes are conversation starters such as our You Smile, I Smile as when you put them on they instantly lift your mood. They have a little message inside and have smiley faces all over them and make you feel great. I want to make sure this is what people feel when they put my shoes on!
The digital world has been a big influence on your designs – from smiley emojis to vaporwave, how important has social media been to building your brand?
The digital world is so exciting and we love seeing how its evolving. For us, social media is a way of customers sharing their looks and it’s been important to our development as an emerging brand.
Social media has become a new platform for sales, as we have customers message us from all around the world (for example from Beirut and Russia) who we would not have been able to reach before. We’ve been able to build a community of loyal customers who want to stay updated on the brand!
As a designer, do you now have to think about creating pieces that will be Instagram-friendly?
No, it’s just about creating pieces that reflect our brand identity and look nice on feet – with those factors they’ll always be Instagram friendly! We aim for our shoes to look as beautiful as they do on and off. I think most of our shoes are Instagram-friendly as they tell a story and are so fun – we love seeing how people style them.
How do you want a woman to feel when she’s wearing your shoes?
To feel good, be happy and to smile!
Where’s the strangest place you’ve found inspiration?
A sweet shop! I found the PEZ dispensers and thought it could be so much fun to use as a high heel.
What can we expect from your next collection?
Our High Summer collection is dropping at the moment on our website which we are really excited about. There are some really beautiful summer dressy high heels with playful motifs which are perfect for summer parties, weddings and holidays. The Diamonds & Dolphins sandals in particular are so fun for the beach, but will also take you effortlessly into the evening with a dress.