Fashion forward, on trend and classically cool, Chaos & Harmony shoes are currently being worn by every ‘It’ girl in New Zealand.
Rebecca Anderson, the founder and designer behind the company creates stand-out, handmade shoes for women who know what they want, and we are crazy about their bridal shoe range. The best thing about the Chaos & Harmony bridal collection, is that their shoes are not only beautiful but they’re also super styley for any special occasion.
The craftsmanship and attention to detail is something to be admired as their shoes exude style, strength and comfort. They have also created BLAKCHAOS which is a match made in heaven collab store with fellow NZ brand, Blak – who has a gorgeous Bridesmaid collection which you can check out along with the bridal shoe range from Chaos & Harmony all through September during Bridal Month.
To celebrate we had a chat with Beks from Chaos & Harmony to get to know more about the heart and soul behind the brand and some inspiring projects in between.
Tell us about Chaos & Harmony – where did you begin and how did the name come about?
I have always been fascinated by textures, materials and leather. When I finished school I worked in interior design. Even though I loved it, I knew there was something else for me. I had this nagging shoe thing in the back of my mind. So I decided to pursue shoes, but there was a catch – you can’t actually study proper footwear design, in the detail required to create comfortable, high-quality shoes, in New Zealand! I ended up at the Instituto Europeo di Design in Rome, in a course taught by tutors who’d worked at Valentino and Fendi, among others, and a focus on conceptual design over construction.
I spent 12 months working day and night to learn the ins and outs of my craft. We visited the Chanel factory, studied leathers, lasts and moulds and worked non-stop. I remember one night getting home from school at 5pm and having to draw 200 pairs of shoes to hand in the next day! It taught me to switch my brain off and let my creativity loose. It taught me not to over-think things, to just design – good design then flows from that.
When my husband and I came back to New Zealand we wanted a name that would inspire us creatively but also describe our aesthetic. We wanted to grow and be pulled by the name and still love it 10 years down the track. Because of my love of texture and using it to create depth in our styles, the name reflects that – it brings about a curious contradiction. I also love that it subtly sums up a woman’s world!
You’ve broken into the wedding industry with some beautiful creations, what inspired your expansion into the bridal market?
When we set out to create Chaos & Harmony Bridal Boutique, we had two things in mind – the shoes we wished we could have worn to our own weddings and the need for bridal styles that could be worn more than once. We believe you should love Chaos & Harmony shoes so much you wear them over and over again, even if they are your wedding shoes. That’s why all our Bridal Boutique shoes look just as great styled with jeans and a tee as they will on your wedding day.
We’d always thought about creating a bridal range, but the catalyst was actually when our sales manager, Olivia, got engaged and we realised there really was a gap for wedding shoes you could wear again. She’s now happily married and our Bridal Boutique range has been a hit nationwide!
This month we’re celebrating Bridal Month – so our entire Bridal Boutique collection is in our Ponsonby Blakchaos store for brides to try on and purchase. We’ve also got a beautiful Bridal Style Guide being released very soon, with amazing imagery that is sure to inspire, so watch this space!
Where are your shoes created and crafted?
We work with a small team at three factories in Southern China. Our shoes are hand-lasted, which means the leather is stretched and secured over the mould by hand, which makes each pair unique. We work closely with our factory and the artisans who work there to make sure our designs and production are of the best quality. We travel to China every 12 weeks and are very hands-on with the process of creating our shoes.
What is involved in your creative process?
Our creative process has three stages – concept, development and procurement.
We love having a strong starting point from which we can be inspired. One of the main elements of our business is creativity and, bringing with that, inspiration, which I learnt in my training in Italy. I love the idea of expressing a point of view or telling a story, which is why all our collections start with a strong concept.
The development phase is all about designing with freedom, not too many restrictions and having the ability to express yourself without commercial restrictions. So that means designing whatever your heart tells you to, without thinking about whether it will actually sell or not, or how much it would cost to produce.
Procurement is about bringing reality into light – what will work in the market place, what we can see our customers wearing, and what will inspire them but also serve them best.
Chaos & Harmony is involved with several charities. Can you tell us about who you work with and why it’s important to you?
Another key element of our business is significance, which means seeing how we can connect worlds. When we talked to our staff a few years ago about what the causes were that pulled on their hearts, human trafficking was one. So we connected with Nvader and Tearfund, who do phenomenal work in Thailand. They are active on the frontline, working to remove vulnerable woman, children and men from the hands of traffickers. They collaborate with Thai officials to gather intel where they can, then prosecute offenders. You can read more about the work they do here.
I’ve always loved the idea that we could create a business that goes beyond designing and making shoes and could potentially help people that are vulnerable.
Another charity we’ve recently been involved with is Breast Cancer Cure, which is a national organisation that works to find a cure for breast cancer. This connection comes from a personal experience – both my mum and mother-in-law were diagnosed with breast cancer within four days of each other. I also have a friend who is the same age as me who was diagnosed as well. Before these events, breast cancer was just some pink campaign and another cause. But now it’s part of our life story. Each year we create a pink shoe to raise funds for Breast Cancer Cure in October. This year, we’ve recreated our popular Energy sneaker in a cool pink leather, with a pink sole and removable pink pom pom. Next month, 10 per cent of the sale of those sneakers will go straight to helpung fund the search for a cure.
We often gift people shoes and help out smaller causes, but these are the two main ones we’re supporting at the moment. I really believe that when it comes to working with charities, it’s not about this cause or that cause, but doing the thing that affects your heart. We are all drawn to different causes, but if we all operated from what pulls your heart, then we would all be helping the people who really need it.
Chaos & Harmony are the ones to watch as they take NZ shoe fashion to a whole new level. We were lucky enough to have them as part of our Wild Hearts shows for 2017 and are equally as excited to have them joining us for 2018.