Zia Ziprin of Girls Love Shoes on Vintage Kicks and Rationalizing $700 Heels

It's Friday! Let's run a pic of Zia and her puppies! Photo: Melissa Hom

When designers and costumers need a little inspiration, they know where to go: Girls Love Shoes. The Lower East Side treasure trove houses thousands of vintage shoes, some from as far back as the 1800s, serving as a historical archive of footwear, a resource for industry insiders, and a great online boutique for aficionados. Sisters Zia and Dana Ziprin learned the vintage ropes from their mother, a model and stylist who opened her own vintage store in California in the sixties. When Dana began sourcing shoes in California, it didn't take long before they amassed 2,000 pairs (imagine that shoe rack!) and opened the rental service. Now Zia, a former fashion designer, runs the new boutique as she prepares to launch her own shoe line this August. We pulled her aside to find out what pair of shoes she'd never part with and why a $700 pair of shoes is actually worth it.

What was the first designer shoe you bought?
Charles Jourdan, when I was 16. I actually have shoes from when I was 14 in my archives. I have cork six-inch platforms that I wore. I’ve been dressing up since I can remember! I used to steal my mom’s high heels and wear them out and put them in my bag when I was leaving. Before I was allowed to.

Is the $700 pair of shoes worth it?
Because I’m a shoe designer, I know the amount of work and the costs — I just finished making my first collection and I stood there and watched every shoe being made in the factory. Each shoe is completely made by hand. One shoe literally takes eight hours of a person's time, from cutting the patterns to gluing everything. For well-made, expensive shoes, I think it makes perfect sense, so to me — it's art.

Do you always wear heels?
Not always, but yeah, in general I do. Depending on the weather. Right now I’m suffering because I’m living in my boots.

What’s the best pair of shoes that you have, the pair that you would never part with?
We have an I. Miller that was on the cover of Vogue in 1952. They were custom made for the model. That’s something I would never part with. It’s just sort of a red snakeskin Mary Jane with a buckle.

There's so much vintage out there; when you're sifting through shoes, how do you know when you've got a winner? How do you identify quality and authenticity?
Definitely the workmanship, the fabrication. We’ve also learned about shoes that are collectibles that most people wouldn’t know about, because we talk to designers who know who worked for the most companies.

We're interviewing you as a trendsetter, so we have to ask: What trends do you adore? Floral appliqués and pastels. I think platforms are still going to be in. I’m doing wedges for my own line.

What look can you not stand seeing on the street?
I think those rubber things are really atrocious — Crocs. But I heard that they’re recycled, so if they’re good for the environment...

What’s flying off the shelves right now?
Right now we’re selling flat slouchy boots more than anything else. Other than those, there's not one particular style that sells more than others — except, you know, sexy pumps.

What's going to be big for spring?
Now shoes are really getting a lot of attention — more than ever in many, many years. Designers are getting very creative with shoes, so a lot of decorations — decorated flats, decorated wedges, embellishments like flowers and architectural shapes. The shoes are the showpiece of the outfit right now.

Who’s your favorite designer?
My favorite designer is Martin Margiela. I love Christian Dior; again, his clothes are extreme. They represent such extreme style and you might not be able to wear them every day, but the quality and workmanship is amazing. Also, Alexander McQueen.

And who do you actually wear the most?
Vintage, and I wear my own pieces.

Where do you shop?
Marmalade on Ludlow, and Leelush, which is right next door to our store. Also Alice Roi, Project 8, Seven boutique and Edon Manor — it’s a shoe shop in Tribeca. And Maria Luisa in Paris.

What can't you live without?
At the moment it’s probably my bag, which I wear all the time. I have it in five colors. Black, brown, beige, white, and gray. They're by Patricia Lukosezk.