Exclusive: Malone Souliers' Roy Luwolt on the brand's capsule collection for Boutique 1
Raid the wardrobe of any it girl or style star and you're all-but guaranteed to find a pair of Malone Souliers heels in her line-up. A favourite of stars like Olivia Palermo and Blake Lively, the brand is known for its focus on quality and craftsmanship — and of course, sleek silhouettes that work in any wardrobe with just about every outfit.
This month, the brand (run by Mary-Alice Malone and Roy Luwolt) is launching an exclusive capsule collection with Boutique 1. Inspired by the brand's well-travelled clientele, the seven-piece collection is seriously pretty. Ahead of its launch in stores, we exclusively caught up with Roy to talk about how the capsule came about and why fashion needs to not stop taking itself so seriously.
Tell me a little about this exclusive capsule for Boutique 1 — how did it come about?
They represent a great interest in the development of luxury within that space in London. Depending on how familiar you are with [Chelsea, where Boutique 1 opened a new store last year] in London, it's always been quite a luxurious lifestyle area but not particularly fashion oriented. We find that it's a natural transfer when the neighbours are in the boroughs next door like Knightsbridge where you've got Harrods and Harvey Nichols, it's a nice kind of in-between spot and there's nothing else like it there. This collection was a way for us to mark that installation with a bit more of a remarkable offer.
So the collection was inspired by the area, but in terms of the design, what were the inspirations?
There's a consistency to the localisation of the consumer that we find — she's an expert traveler, very globalised, there's certain fabrications that we know, by our responsiveness and by our own research and development, are highly appealing to that audience so whenever we've created something for any other Middle Eastern store, it's always a different sort of approach to that particular consumer. For this consumer, there's a slight pop culture colouring and a cool mix of materials. It really does bring itself back to what one might say is the identity of that store.
How long was the process?
About three and a half months. It's a whole other exercise that the team has to engage in —lots of trips to the factory to make sure things are coming out as we wish and of course at some point I get involved moreso as well to ensure that it's what our consumer needs.
How would you describe the Malone Souliers customer? Is there a specific woman that buys into the brand here or is it a mix?
I think it's a mix, certainly. And again, I think that's what makes it a spectacular placement. She's always looking for something that's fresh and new and quite often, if you think very pragmatically, it's something that doesn't exist locally where she lives. For those who do live [in London], you always want something slightly exceptional when it comes to your personal taste. I think that woman has an errant eye, if you will.
So I guess then that there's a focus on individuality so women can take these pieces and make them their own.
Working with a company like Boutique 1, where you've got the London offering and the Dubai offering and customers who so frequently move between the two locations allows the collection to reach a wider array of consumers, too...
Completely. I think one has to remember that at the end of the day what we do is fashion. I consider them to be luxury vanities, components of escapism at best but we should also be cautious that as much as that lends a certain affluence and influence to be able to impact the community as positively as we can, I think it's important not to exaggerate the very symbolism of the items themselves in a literal sense. Does it lend me a certain stage to portray a certain message that has a positive connotation? By all means. Does that mean one does hold a responsibility? By all means. You do that in more sort of very magnanamous ways rather than just literal demonstrations by actually creating practical and tangible gestures that the world may not hear about but certainly go a long way in assisting these movements, these causes, and protecting the ones where one can partially the world over. As to what the symbolism of the shoes are, I have to be the one that very adamantly says, they are just shoes. Let them be shoes. Let shoes be shoes.
That's a very realistic viewpoint you don't often come across in fashion...
I had an interesting question about that yesterday and I got slightly exasperated because yes it's fashion but no, this does not stand up to the point of feminism. We need to support and acknowledge and respect that but we don't get to speak as though... Quite frankly this industry has been vastly guilty of some of the failings of the matter and we don't get to make it our coat of arms. Yes get in line and support the cause and make sure you're propagating the positive as opposed to anything otherwise, certainly pushing your resources to something good but we are not the primary and not the topic.
What does Malone Souliers as a brand offer consumers that competitors don't?
I think it's the overall message. The overall message being the boldness to really kind of, for the first time in a long time, aim for quality and stand behind it. A lot of variables and tenements on instant gratification is that people want to get a lot of something very quickly rather than taking your time and doing something in a more difficult and slow way. It's the difference that actually sets us apart by way of quality assurance, which is again why we accept, many of the few we ever get, customers who have had their shoes for a year but need a repair, we take it free of charge and we fix it. It has a lifetime warranty for that purpose. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if there was no one else that could do that's because the margins tend to be more important to a lot of others. I think that defeats the point and notion of luxury. If you're going to call something luxury, as opposed to high end or contemporary, you need to always stand behind that with your resources and offering alike.
And I think that approach is, as you say, what luxury is. It's about the experience and having a customer, not only buy a product, but buy into the brand and support them in the way that they have supported you...
Indeed. If one is going to set something up that really does sustain its own position over the years and over the decades, much like the best have done, then its important that two things happen — first R&D is a big part of it, and we ensure that people behind the brand completely understand what the sensibility is and we keep that service that way on and on and quite incessantly. Otherwise you get to a point where if I let too many people touch the business we effectively end up being just a cash cow.
Can we expect any more exclusive capsules for the region in the future?
We work with our key doors to bring something special to their consumer that we don't sell every other season. Exclusives have to be exclusive and we really do pause until its necessary and until it's got something that is an identity than something made to make noise.
As a business, the vision of every collection is to really kind of stun me because I don't know as much about women's shoes as women know about women's shoes so I have to look at it from different tenements that are a little more practical if you will than intonate. That's something that will never surpass the consumers understanding of her own usage. But the team is doing a wonderful job of that.
The Malone Souliers capsule collection is available exclusively in Boutique 1 stores and online here from today.