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Kathryn Amberleigh Defies the Recession

When most F.I.T. design students finally get their degree, they spend some under-the-radar time working for other designers while figuring out when and how they’ll make the first move to strike out on their own. But not so with Kathryn Kim, the solo designer behind the two-year-old shoe label Kathryn Amberleigh. After getting her BFA in Fashion Design and logging just one internship at Catherine Malandrino, the Seoul-born shoe obsessive skipped straight to the spotlight. “I graduated and had millions of designs in my journal that I wanted to see come to life. I couldn’t wait to get out there and get started.”

And get started she did. Since her debut collection for spring '08, Kathryn, along with her business partner and husband Howard, has opened up a shop on upper Mott Street (in an area that’s seen more than a few store closures lately), expanded sales into Tokyo, and had her line picked up by Shopbop. Her shoes have also graced the pages of Lucky, NYLON, Vice Magazine, WWD Accessories, and even had a twirl on Gossip Girl. And the most impressive part? Most of the handcrafted designs — which come in everything from a simple flat to a neon-pink spike-heel platform — hover around the $250 range. Kathryn’s next goal? A retail location in London. Global recession be damned.

Photo: Courtesy of Kathryn Kim

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