Growing up, Rupert Sanderson was always interested in creative pursuits, whether working on sets for a school play or designing invitations for parties. And when he graduated university, Sanderson channeled this passion into an advertising career only to find that it wasn't particularly satisfying. "I always thought it was the best way to be creative but it was a big mistake!," he recalls now. "I didn't know I could make a product, [even though] I always found myself drawn to shoes." Sanderson decided to enroll in the well-regarded Cordwainer's Technical College, where notable footwear alumni include Nicholas Kirkwood and Sophia Webster. During his summer break from classes, he took a tour of Italy to learn more about their shoe-making tradition; post-graduation, he was soon back in the country working for Sergio Rossi and Bruno Magli.
In 2001, Sanderson returned to London and founded his namesake brand. Now, more than a decade later, Sanderson has stores in his hometown along with Paris and Hong Kong. He's also gone on to win multiple industry awards, including the British Fashion Award's Accessory Designer of the year in 2008. He counts Kate Middleton among his fans and his shoes have grown to become a street style favorite. And this fall — though his shoes are already carried stateside by Bloomingdale's and Saks Fifth Avenue — Barneys will add them to their gleaming shoe floor. The Cut caught up with the designer to hear his thoughts about K-Mid's sense of style, how his shoes get named, and why he'll blog but not tweet. Don't miss the slideshow previewing his fall 2013 collection.
You've been in the business for a long time. To what do you attribute your longevity?
It's understanding that it is minute changes which help develop a brand over time. You slowly add to your collection. [For instance] we didn't introduce sneakers and handbags until this past season. But also it helps that I'm very involved in every aspect of my business from design to production — we even own our factory in Italy! It's this experience that I brought when I worked with Fashion Fringe in 2008 to nurture young talent.
What do you look for in an emerging designer?
Above all, it's talent! The winner, Liam Fahy, spent ten months working in the Italian factories and I provided guidance so he would have a deeper understanding of the business. It's expected he would take that knowledge and work in the industry, or in his case, start his own line.
You waited until recently to delve into bags. What inspired your bag collection?
Brands like Proenza Schouler, Balenciaga, and the like have very classic bags that they make minute changes to season after season. I wanted a bag that would stand the test of time so I developed mine after a bag I used to carry sheet music in as a child. It has strong hardware but it is also simple and looks timeless.
What about your fall 2013 shoe collection?
It's everything from Japanese kimonos to Lalique crystals to thinking about Kill Bill and Hong Kong triads. I was also inspired by masculinity and girls who like to dress like boys in suits and kilts. I used interesting materials like oily surfaced leathers and I had some retro references like the fifties block heel and the pointed pump.
Speaking of a masculine shoe, men don't always get why women are drawn to them. What is appealing about a woman in a mannish shoe?
Mannish shoes imply confidence because they are for the woman who can embrace that Annie Hall, masculine-meets-feminine vibe. But really the definition of accessorizing is that you are adding to any outfit, be it a heel, wedge or mannish shoe. I want to design for a woman who buys things to enhance her wardrobe, regardless of her style.
I read that you name your shoes after daffodils. Can you explain?
I came across a junk shop in London and there was a book of all the names of the different daffodils. There are about 18,000, so I thought "Well, my work is done!" Naming your shoes gives them more of a human quality, they're not just some code number.
Kate Middleton has worn your shoes in the past. What do you think of her style?
Yes, she has worn our shoes before; as you know, she has a very conservative sense of style. So she will choose our gray suede Malone pumps and wear those when she’s not in her nude LK Bennett’s. I don’t think she would be very interested in the more fashion-forward shoes. She seems to be different from her [deceased] mother-in-law who was more involved in fashion.
You've blogged in the past for Vogue U.K. Do you enjoy writing and do you think it's important to be engaged with your customer?
I believe in crafting and writing blog posts. I’m not a Twitter person because the spontaneity and the instant ability that it requires is not for me. I prefer to spend time working on a well-written post and engaging with my customers that way. I’m not big on Instagram either. I will send out a few pictures but I believe in taking my time to digest information, showing a product after a few months. I understand the need of an editor or a stylist to share their thoughts but I think designers need to spend more time to develop their products versus how instant the world has become.
Most Viewed Stories
Brad Pitt Fights Back Against Angelina Jolie and Her Plot to ‘Destroy’ Him
Looks Like Kate Middleton Is Enjoying the View in Canada
Trump Campaign Manager Accidentally Refers to His ‘Abuse’ of Women on Live TV
Megyn Kelly Roasts Trump’s Campaign Manager for Claiming He Doesn’t Make Sexist Comments
What It’s Like to Be a Female Reporter Covering Donald Trump
Finally Someone Called Donald Trump a Giant Baby and It Was Michelle Obama
22 Intimate Lost Photos of Marilyn Monroe
The Best Part of Being a Royal Is Getting to Pet Bunnies
Prince Married to Commoner Still Too Good to Tweet
Democratic Women Senators Are Very Concerned About Donald Trump’s Weight
From Our Partners
powered by PubExchange
The Cut’s Latest Fashion FeaturesCiara's Wedding Dress Was Too Big for the Chapel
To be fair, it was a 13 foot-long dress.You and Rihanna Will Both Want to Invest in Dior’s New Bag
It's got something for everyone.Polo Shirts Have Turned Their Back on Ryan Lochte
Along with his other major sponsors.Ryan Lochte Will No Longer Be Paid to Wear Tiny Bathing Suits
Speedo remains committed to transparency.Laura Brown Is the New Editor-in-Chief of InStyle
After 11 years at Harper’s Bazaar.Tyra Banks Is Going to Teach a Class on Smizing at Stanford
"If I see somebody not paying attention, I’m gonna call on them."This Floating Pier Is the Most Zen Installation Ever
Walking on water in Italy.Nation Is Appalled by Matt Lauer’s Nude Ankles During Ryan Lochte Interview
What’s the opposite of “Jeah”?8 People at the Life of Pablo Pop-up Explain Why Kanye West Is a God
"I mean, Kanye West is just Kanye West. There's not more or less you can say about Kanye West. He's just Mr. West!"A T-shirt Is Enough
Simplicity, versatility, and cool. What more could you want?
She took a perfect pencil dive off a 30-foot yacht.American Apparel Is Being Sued by Former Workers
As the company considers putting itself up for sale.A Gendered History of the Tailored Suit
From Marlon Brando to Coco Chanel.How Zendaya Developed Such Great Style at the Young Age of 19
The star's best looks from Disney to now.Proof That If You’re Chic Enough, a Little Federal Investigation Doesn’t Matter
Is this the best they could do?5,300-Year-Old Mummified Iceman Probably Would’ve Been a Street-Style Star
He had several different looks and was “pretty picky.”J.Crew Has Identified 226 Shades of Pink
Even more than there are shades of gray.Gigi and Bella Hadid Merch Is Now Somehow a Thing That Is Happening
Today in Hadidiana.Gird Your Loins for the Return of Yeezy to New York Fashion Week
The season approaches.This Indie Brand Had a Great Response to Ivanka Trump
When she bought one of their cuffs, they donated the proceeds to the Clinton campaign.