Miista, a fashionable fashion footwear company based in Hackney, has been the name on everyone’s lips ever since its launch in 2010. Renowned for its eccentric yet refined designs, Miista has become one of the most sought-after fashionista items online. This week Miista has launched its first pop-up in East London’s premier fashion destination, Redchurch Street. We spoke to Miista’s designer and founder, Laura Villasenin, to find out the story behind this inspirational brand.
Where did it all begin?
It all began when I attended Cordwainers – that’s where I learned the skills I needed to pursue what I really wanted to do, which was footwear design. Footwear is the marriage of the creativity of fashion and the more technical side of product design. For me, it combines the best of both worlds.
Where does the name Miista come from?
Miista is the term we coined to explain the ideals of the brand---mixing things up and giving it a twist. That's exactly what the aesthetic of the brand is about: finding elegant balance in the unusual.
What inspired you to take that decisive step and do what you are really passionate about?
I worked for other high street brands for a few years after finishing my degree, but quickly realised it wasn't the path for me. I did learn a lot from my experience, and it was a great learning curve. Eventually, the urge to put my own creative vision to work overtook. Launching my own brand was really scary, but sometimes you have to take risks.
What are your main brand values?
Miista is always searching for an elegant balance in the unusual. We want to do something that’s different. We focus a lot on innovation in both design and the materials that we use, but it has to be done without compromising the comfort and quality. No matter how conceptual or beautiful, a shoe needs to be wearable to serve its purpose.
Miista is an East London brand, how is this reflected in the designs of your shoes?
East London is a place where different worlds come together, where opposites mix. People are fearless about experimenting, and there’s always something new and exciting happening. We always aim to reflect on that way of thinking in our designs – do something fresh, take a few risks, bring together ideas that are seemingly opposites.
What are your expectations from the pop-up in Redchurch Street?
We’re hoping to create brand awareness, and sell shoes while we're at it. Redchurch Street is the perfect location for us since it's in the heart of East London. Essentially, it's about having fun and meeting our customers, which is something that all of us love to no end. It’s one thing to look at numbers to see what styles are more popular, but actually hearing it firsthand from the people that love our product is so rewarding! People cherish experiences and this pop-up will give us the chance to really be a part of those special moments.
You say that you’ll create interactive experiences in the store, tell us more about this.
We wanted to share the East London we know and love – it’s where we live and work, and it’s a place that really influences our aesthetic. For the pop-up we’ve teamed up with Foffa Bikes and created a video of East London, seen as you cycle through our favourite spots. The video will be showing on screen in the shop and if you hop on the beautiful bike Foffa has given us, you’ll experience all of it without ever leaving the shop. The faster you pedal, the faster the video moves – it’s pretty cool!
What’s been your biggest challenge and what did you learn from it?
Our biggest challenge is turning our designs into shoes. It is so technical that part of the design process happens on the production line when making the samples. We have to constantly re-engineer the products to get the right look and construction---It's never easy nor quick. We aim to be fast and think on our feet. In this business, you have to be adaptable and open to change to make things happen.
What stores and brands inspire you?
This is constantly changing. Marni and Kenzo are among our favourite brands – every season they do something new and interesting while having a distinct, instantly recognisable aesthetic. In London, one of our favourite shops is Diverse on Upper Street – it’s a family business that opened nearly three decades ago. It’s the perfect place to build a wardrobe, such a great mix of things. We also do a bit of traveling for Miista and love discovering shops everywhere. Seoul is probably one of the coolest shopping destinations out there.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
When launching Miista, I was advised to put all efforts into the product and not worry about marketing. By concentrating on crafting a quality product, the product will speak for itself. We work with a lot of incredibly talented bloggers and influencers to get the word across on social media and through word of mouth. Traditional advertising has never really been a part of the Miista world.
What should we expect from Miista next?
Our next step is launching a diffusion brand. For AW15, Miista will have a little sister called EEight. A tribute to our East London E8 postal code, it will be for a younger, equally creative and stylish girl. We’re only on day two of our pop-up, but so far so good – we can only hope to launch more in the future!
Discover Miista at 30a Redchurch Street, London E1 6JL till June 6.