Meet the designer – Sargasso And Grey
If you enjoyed reading Sarah from Yull’s insights into the world of shoes, you’ll love the next interviewee in my Meet the Designer series.
Katie Owen is the founder and director of Sargasso & Grey. We met a few years ago when she reached out to me for some shoe business advice. Since then her brand – which specialises in wide-fitting footwear – has gone from strength to strength.
Meet Katie Owen
Q. What has been the most successful pair of shoes you’ve designed?
A. The Ava shoe has been a real hit. It is a nice wide EEE fit so even though it is pointed, it doesn’t squash the toes. The heel is a stylish yet sensible height and the lace up detail is ideal for women who may need a wider fit at the front but have slim heels, as it keeps the foot firmly in the shoe. Kitten heels are the hot style for 2017, which makes it stylish as well as comfy! We launched it last autumn in black suede and it got such great feedback that we now do it in a navy suede and a maroon suede.
Q. Can shoes change your life?
A. Well ill-fitting shoes certainly can. But not for the better! I know a number of women, some under 40, who have endured painful foot surgery due, in part, to years of wearing poorly fitting shoes. However, when these same women find a pair of shoes that fit them perfectly and make them feel elegant and comfortable, well then that really can feel life changing!
Q. What are the elements that make a high heel comfortable?
A. Some women can wear heels with little discomfort; others struggle with anything over a few CM. I can happily wear a 10cm heel all day so long as the shoe is wide enough at the front. If you aren’t used to wearing high heels but want to wear them then my advice is to avoid stiletto (skinny) heels and opt for a wider block heel, giving a wider base to support your body weight. Be sure to find a pair of shoes that are the correct width.
The wider the shoe the bigger the surface area to support the ball of your foot and the more space you have to spread your feet. Cramped toes = pain! A high heeled shoe which has a strap or other type of fastening over the bridge of the foot will help keep the foot back, and help prevent your toes from constantly trying to grip the shoe to keep it on.
Q. What’s your favourite place you’ve travelled with work?
A. The furthest I have travelled for my shoe business is Spain. That said, I love going there and seeing the shoes being made. I also love wine and tapas! In one of my previous jobs I got to live in New York for a while. That was a lot of fun!
Q. How did you become a shoe designer?
A. Quite by accident. I have wide feet and was moaning to a shoe designer friend that I could never find stylish shoes in a wider fit. She suggested I design some of my own and put me in touch with a shoe factory. Things just went from there. I had to educate myself on all aspects of shoe making and design so, as well as visiting a number of shoe factories and learning from the shoe makers themselves, I also enrolled on a shoe design course at London College of Fashion. I can’t really profess to be a shoe designer; I simply make classic shoes for women who want them to be stylish but need them made in a wider fit.
Make sure you check out more of Katie’s elegant designs over at Sargasso & Grey. Even if you don’t have wide feet yourself, your wide-footed friends and relations will thank you for a recommendation.