Neous: How This Under-The-Radar Shoe Brand Exploded Onto The Scene
June 22, 2018 | BY Rosana Lai
On a mission to create shoes you never have to (or want to) change out of, fashion stylist Vanissa Antonious and shoe designer Alan Buanne created Neous—a footwear brand based on simple silhouettes, but with an architectural heel here or plexi details there. On their recent trip to Asia, Hong Kong Tatler sat down with the founders to talk about their process, inspiration and venturing into handbags
What inspired you to create Neous?
Buanne We never imagined we’d work together. I couldn’t even imagine graduating at the time we met. But having both worked in accessories and fashion, we had constant conversations about the perfect the shoe and how we can’t seem to find shoes we needed.
Antonious We took a look at all of our friends living in various cities, and we wanted to create something that each of them could actually live in. We wanted to make something you could go have lunch with the president in and then go on a boat. We hated the idea of women having to carry another pair of shoes.
Where does the name Neous come from?
Antonious It’s an amalgamation of our two last names.
Buanne It also means “new” in Greek if I’m not mistaken, so it does feel kind of contemporary.
How do you balance luxury materials with a contemporary price point?
Buanne It’s a major factor because we didn’t want to compromise. We wanted the aesthetic and the make to be of a luxury design, so of course, we went to Italy. It was difficult finding the right manufacturing partner because most prefer working with a known brand. Also, we’re not producing the same quantity as others.
In the end, we managed to slot ourselves into the schedule of the factory that works with Ferragamo shoes.
What are some fellow contemporary brands or designers that you’re loving right now?
Antonious I’m wearing Charlotte Chesnais, which is a French jewellery brand with ergonomic shapes.
Buanne We just went to Seoul and I fell in love with Gentle Monster, we tried on so many designs and they just fit so well.
Why do you think the contemporary fashion sector is growing so fast?
Buanne I think you can see that it’s moving in this direction. Just from looking at visual merchandising, you’d now see a Celine bag right next to a contemporary shoe brand.
Antonious I think people are more open-minded about where they shop. They choose based on design and versatility. We generally see our brand sitting next to Celine, Proenza Schouler and JW Anderson, who share a similar aesthetic to us.
We’re getting past the idea that price is associated with quality. I think previously, expensive items gave people the perception that it’s better quality. But if you look at the factories as we have, a “cheaper” brand is produced right next to something by a high-end luxury brand. It’s the same hands making the shoes, and the customer is catching on to this.
(Related: Marni Market Comes To Singapore)
The heel is very much at the forefront of trends in shoes right now. Why do you think that is, and where did you guys get the idea for the ball heel?
Buanne We grew up in Sydney where there are beaches and nature right next to a bustling city. There’s this duality between the raw and wild nature with this new, glassy city, so our round wooden heel and the plexiglass reflect that juxtaposition.
Do you see Neous branching into handbags and other accessories?
Antonious It’s definitely something we talk about. We don’t design for the sake of design, we design for our customer. We’d love to have a 360 accessories brand because we’ve always loved the idea of making objects, like beautiful paperweights and bookends.
How do you feel about Hong Kong and the fashion here?
Buanne Hong Kong was the first trip I took on my own. I was 14 years old and I had a few days laying over. I remember buying Heineken somewhere because I wasn’t allowed to drink yet (laughs). In terms of fashion, I’m struck by how even in such a hot climate, women still make an effort to dress up and look good. There’s always an elegance to what they wear.
Neous is available at On Pedder.
This article first appeared on hk.asiatatler.com.
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