Brooklyn-based designer Suzanne Rae has organically grown a business based on offbeat feminine designs.
Rae launched her brand in 2010 and began offering shoes for spring 2017. The shoe category has quickly become big business for her, now representing 70 percent of brand sales — a figure partially buoyed by footwear’s market success, relative to apparel.
“Shoes are having a moment — people are ready to drop $400 or $500 on a pair of shoes, rather than a pair of trousers,” said Rae, who trained at Costume National’s atelier in Milan as well as with Morgane Le Fay in New York. “Because of fast fashion, I think people are buying their clothes and mixing high and low. The shoe is the cake topper, it’s the statement. People don’t want a cheap shoe for the practical sense of comfort and also the real accessories perspective that it can elevate a look.”
Rae’s brand — with shoes priced in the $300 to $500 range — is a success story from the growing mid-priced accessory category, where elevated designs are offered at an intermediate cost.
Rae is now mulling additional accessories categories. Her designs are presently carried at The Dreslyn, Martha Louisa, Opening Ceremony and Need Supply, among other retailers.
Rae’s spring 2019 collection represents the start of a plan to expand her line’s reach. She has elaborated on her block heel mary-jane and sandal styles — adding metallic finishes, fringe embellishments and oversize organza bows to the mix. Rae also added to her “sport” line of shoes — this time creating new sneaker shapes as well as platform Teva-styles, most priced at around $300.
Apparel this season — fuchsia taffeta outerwear, exaggerated Peter Pan collar dresses and pastel tulle skirts — commented on hyper-femininity as it relates to the current political climate.
“I was thinking a lot about the beauty and freedom of childhood fantasies,” Rae said at her New York Fashion Week presentation Tuesday night, where vintage dolls and Barbie dream houses comprised the set. “I wanted to point to value of the female sphere, the value of puff-sleeve sand bows and these color palettes that have a romantic notion. You don’t have to give that up — you don’t have to dress conservatively or wear black to be respected.”