On November 2014, I accidentally accessed Chie Mihara’s online store and I instantly felt charmed by the large variety of joyful and unique shoe styles that I randomly discover. And somehow, I felt like those shoes were not simply shoes. I could see myself wearing them in my most happy moments; I could see them witness me grow up; I could see people turning heads after me. Therefore, I felt the need of having one pair of Chie Mihara shoes in my life. Today, I have four pairs of Chies in my dressing and each pair means something special to me.
And I don’t love my Chie Mihara shoes only because they look flawless. These shoes (and obviously Chie Mihara herself) respect the foot and abolish the saying that beautiful shoes must be painful. I swear, I have never wore more comfortable shoes than my Chies in my entire life! Therefore, I felt like spreading the word about Chie Mihara and her fabulous shoe collections and took her a small interview exclusively for my blog. She is an inspiration for any woman and I am really grateful that she took the time to answer my questions, as she is very busy with the launch of the SS/16 Collection, but also with the FW/16 Collection. Thank you, Chie!
The Spring/Summer 2016 collection will soon be launched on chiestore.com. What’s the inspiration behind the new collection? Can you show us some sneak peeks?
Chie Mihara: My idea of this collection was to find interesting forms and lines. Unexpected shapes were my aim to design. Although a bit difficult to make it functional, I tried to meet both ends. Most materials are textured, grained leather, hand brushed suede, lizard emboss and some basic nappa leather. I had believed in square toe shapes for a while and thought that now was the time. Some sandals are square toes giving this bohemian air from the seventies. Heels are rather cone shape or square. Colors are very earthy, from nude to dark browns, but my favorite color this season is burgundy! Oh yes! Wintery burgundy on sandals!! The SS/16 Collection will be launched this week, by Friday January 22nd.
Do you search for inspiration or does the inspiration find you?
Chie Mihara: First you have to search for ‘something’ that catches your attention, whether it is a color, a shape, music, a picture, a person… Then you dig into it until you find the story behind it. The rest is connecting the dots.
Do you ever feel nervous about how your customers might perceive the new collections in general?
Chie Mihara: Sure! But I don’t try to please anybody. I have to play my game and play it fully, having fun and feeling satisfied. At the end, the result is always better than doing a collection insecure of what you are doing. You’ve got to have a brave attitude – It’s a quality that everyone admires.
How many women test your designs before going to production? Do you test the products yourself or ask other women to give their feedback?
Chie Mihara: We have two models and myself trying on shoes before and during production. Some styles we have to correct and test 5 or 6 times.
What are the values of the brand?
Chie Mihara: Quality, comfort and unique design. I believe all women deserve a high quality product, as they are all quality beings.
How many employees do you have at this moment?
Chie Mihara: Around 22 in the office and more than 60 artisans in the factory.
How does an ordinay day from Chie’s life look like?
Chie Mihara: I’m a morning person. I wake up at 8:00 am, have breakfast and go to Yoga twice a week at 9:30; If not a Yoga day, I go to last or heel factories; I have lunch at 2 pm, go to the Chie Mihara factory to oversee production at 3 pm, then I head to the office and work on images, catalogues, videos and design. At 8 pm I go home, have dinner, chat with my husband, read E-mails and magazines, then ZZZzzzzzz…
What do you love doing the most in your spare time?
Chie Mihara: Look for some tutorials on photography or facial care and check out style.com and similar websites.
How many shoes do you have in your dressing?
Chie Mihara: Visible are around 30 pairs, but in boxes I have another 50 pairs of shoes. However, I’m not a shoe freak!
You’ve mentioned before in one of your videos on Youtube that when you design shoes, you don’t think about your personal preferences. Let’s talk about your preferences. What do you look for in a shoe? What style suits you best?
Chie Mihara: I’m a very basic person… Boyish. I like navy and black, low heels… Very boring… I hate ornaments, bright colors, mix of colors, mid-aged lady like heels – These are just not my style!!
You’re a successful businesswoman, a wife and a mother of three. Do you consider yourself a fulfilled woman?
Chie Mihara: Yeah, sure! Totally!!!
Any message for your customers in Romania?
Chie Mihara: Don’t follow blindly the trends! Don’t loose your personality! Find what makes you feel really happy!