From fluorescent leather to transparent plastic, to the shoe world's first high-heeled riding boot, whimsical boots designed as gloves, and other striking design innovations, Walter Steiger has strongly influenced the evolution of modern footwear design.
Founded by Walter Steiger Sr. in 1932 as an exclusive tailored-shoe atelier, his son, Walter, began apprenticing with dad at the tender age of 15. Following a stint at a prestigious Swiss atelier, Junior then headed headed to Swinging London in 1960s, making shoes for Mary Quant and even Michelangelo Antonioni's movie "Blow Up." He later opened the company's first Paris boutique in 1974, and the big name collaborations followed over the years - including Ungaro, Nina Ricci, Sonia Rykiel, Maison Chloé, Calvin Klein, Claude Montana, Oscar de la Renta, Kenzo, Alaïa, and Karl Lagerfeld.
We recently interviewed Walter Steiger live on Twitter (@waltersteiger). Here are some of the highlights:
1. When was the Walter Steiger Brand started?
Walter Steiger was founded by my father, also Walter (above) in 1932 as an exclusive tailored shoe atelier. The first store was opened in Paris in 1974.
3. Three words that describe Walter Steiger are...
Innovation, quality and fit.
4. Your sons Giulio and Paul joined your business recently. What do they bring to your company?
As 3rd generation, they bring a new energy to the creative process and continuity to the family tradition.
5. Tell us an interesting factoid about Walter Sr. who founded the company.
Before he started the company he used to make custom made ski boots in St. Morritz in the 30s.
6. What is the Walter Steiger brand most well known for?
I think for innovation in the industry and the characteristic minimal and clean design.
8. When is the Walter Steiger collaboration with Akris going be in stores? Can you tell us a bit about it?
The creation of Fall 2010 for Akris will be in all Walter Steiger stores worldwide starting this month.
For Akris, we made a few clean, plain boots with a big platform and a chunky heel.
9. What are the Walter Steiger “must-haves” for Fall?
Our fur-trimmed "Millenium" boot is the trend. Also the "Moracees" black studded pumps are enjoying great success.
10. What do you consider your most iconic shoe designs?
Probably the comma heel. When I made it, it was a "revolution" which has now became a classic.
11. Tell us why you recently decided to open your Paris “Steiger Bottier” atelier exclusively for made-to-measure shoes.
Two Reasons: First for passion, I apprenticed as a shoemaker.
And second, because I love the idea to be able to work without commercial compromise.
12. Give us some examples of your crazier creations.
We created shoes made with ostrich feathers to match a gown.
Also, an amazing crocodile boot with no stitching, a very difficult and unique technique.
13. Which shoe trends & innovations was Walter Steiger responsible for?
I remembered when I first started using transparent plastic or florescent materials. I also think we were pioneers with elastics.
14. What current shoe trends do you wish would walk on by?
I am not crazy about the open toe flat boot sandals. I don’t think they are very feminine.
15. Which is your favorite Walter Steiger design of all time?
For sure the one I am working on now! Why? Because fashion for me is the moment.
- Lesley Scott
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