With summer comes summer travel, accompanied by the age-old issue of how to cram as many stylish looks into one stylish carry-on as possible (a predicament that’s become even more pressing with the new $15-per-checked-bag fee being instituted by some US airlines).
Happily, we recently discovered a new shoe line that seems tailor made for jet setting fashionistas who prefer to travel light. Called Phootlery, these stylishly strappy sandals are ingeniously designed with a series of hidden bra strap-like hooks that allow you to detach the upper from the sole, so you can easily go from a casual daytime look to a seriously dressy evening shoe in a snap - and everything packs flat.
“I was traveling a lot and packing shoes was always my biggest challenge,” Phootlery designer Chris Ann Phelan told The Fashion Informer of her inspiration for the line, which she launched in 2006. “I needed both casual and dressy shoes, but I also didn’t want to be limited to just one pair for each occasion. It just wasn't satisfying. Flip flops are easy to pack, but design wise, they’re too basic. I felt that there was a need for something special.”
After taking a shoe design class at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Phelan – who has a Master’s in retail management from NYU and has worked as a Broadway costume designer, assistant to Zang Toi, technical designer at J. Crew and retail strategist for chains such as Gap, Inc. – had her “aha” moment in 2004, having already tried and discarded about 10 different closures for her work-in-progress line.
“While getting ready to go to go out one night and wearing a strapless dress, I was converting my bra and it dawned on me that [this system] would work for my sandals. I was late that evening for the party mocking up the strap!”
Two years, several prototypes and one “interchangeable footwear system” patent later, Phootlery was officially born.
Today, the collection, which Phelan has dubbed “couture for the foot,” consists of six different sole options (in chocolate brown, silver or gold leather) and twice as many uppers (in bright jewel tones and beaded leather, fringed suede, metallic mesh and even clear PVC), allowing clients to mix and match to their hearts’ content.
For fall, Phelan says she’s “jumping on the sustainability wagon and will incorporate ‘green’ items such as recyclable leather and vegan pieces” into the line, which retails from $200-$340.
And in keeping with her “couture for the foot” ethos, clients can even book a one-on-one appointment in Phelan’s Grammery Park studio to design their own one-of-a-kind sandals.
“Clients want something unique,” she says. “And the choices really are endless!”