Exclusive Interview: 10 Questions with Nalini Arora

via Twitter
Her blog, LA Shoe Girl, says it all. Nalini Arora is one of my favourite people to follow on Instagram and Twitter because: shoes. She is the LA Shoe Girl without a doubt. The shoe designer lets her followers into her very colourful world and she allowed us an exclusive peek into the fantastic and interesting life of a shoe designer who has a very high-profile collaboration coming up and I cannot wait to hear all about it. She also has an adorable dog who has an affinity for Pucci turbans.

1) How did you get involved in designing shoes?
Prior to designing shoes, I worked in the footwear industry for several years on both the retail and wholesales level. My father always encouraged me to work in business. I thought sales and marketing was my passage. However, while working for a shoe company, I somehow got involved in product development. My boss said to me, “You should be working as a shoe designer. You have a great idea for product. “ Six months later, I quit my job, and enrolled in the Footwear Design program at FIDM in Los Angeles. Since then I’ve been designing shoes both in house and as a consultant.

Nalini's sketch via Instagram
2) What are your favourite materials to work with? What are the most difficult? 
It’s always more fun to work with luxury leathers, but I don’t discriminate. I’ve learned as a consultant that there are those who can afford very expensive leather, and those who cannot. At the end of the day, it’s the design, not just the materials that makes a difference.  With people wanting vegan shoes, I wish there were more textile options for footwear. Materials like lace or chiffon, or anything that is thin and dainty don’t work well with shoes, and that can be frustrating. I’m very excited to working with 3D printing one day. I think there is an opportunity to create details and designs that may be challenging or too expensive.

3) What has been your most memorable collaboration to date? 
Hmm, I wish I could tell you, but I signed a confidentiality agreement. I can tell you that it’s a luxury brand. It was very exciting to make shoes that cost more than a thousand dollars. However, what I enjoyed most was pushing myself to create. When you’re designing for a brand that sets trends, there expectations of you are very high. They want to see unique designs, and not just a few, lots of ideas. I learned to find inspiration from places I normally wouldn’t look, and to explore ideas, and work them out. I have always been that type of designer, but this opportunity pushed me to higher level of exploration and ideation.  It was not easy, but once I got the hang of it, I thrived, and loved the challenge.  I hope to have more opportunities like that.

4) How does designing for children differ from designing for adults? 
There really is not much of a difference with designing kids shoes or adults. The process is the same. I believe what makes kids shoes different is that kids trends follow adults trends. It’s important to follow what trends are strong for adults, but to take some of those important trends adaptable to kids. Designing kids shoes is not as easy as it may seem. It takes a certain talent to be able to recognize trends that are adaptable to kids and make the designs unique to children as well. Not every design has to be a take down version.

Nalini's sketch via Instagram
5) In your opinion, who makes the best shoes? 
Right now, I ‘m in love with everything CĂ©line is doing. Phoebe Philo can make a simple design so cleverly unique.

6) What type of music is playing in the background in the design studio? 
While I’m sketching, I have to listen to dance/electronica music. When I’m working on renderings or technical drawings, music that is a little softer. You can find me listening to: Broken Bells, Phantogram, Kidnap Kid, Underworld, Royksopp, Metronomy, Flight Facilities, Angus & Julia Stone, Seoul, and Arrica Rose’s new album Wavefunction is on my top play list right now!

7) Favourite market or area to shop in LA? 
LA is so spread out and unfortunately, for me, I can’t say I like one neighbourhood. I like shops, and will drive to several neighbourhood in one day just to shop. If I had to pick one area, I would have to say Beverly Hills/Weho, because all of my favourite designers are there. However, there are some amazing shops in Silverlake, Los Feliz, Venice, and Eagle Rock. I also like the Rose Bowl and Fairfax flea market.

8) If you could have one person wear your shoes who would it be and why? 
Phoebe Philo. She’s cool in every possible way, and her taste is immaculate!

9) Where do you draw inspiration from? 
It’s always different. Sometimes architecture, or I pick a muse, and research everything about her/him, and build on that. Maybe it’s a country, or a culture, a religion, or a sign on the street. I’ve learned to be open. I carry a sketchbook with me at all times, and am obsessed with sketching.

10) What can we expect from your brand in the future?  
I have several things in the works.  Some are shoe related, and some are accessory related. I definitely will be creating more illustrations and art that is not necessarily shoe related. You can see the update of it on my blog. There will be a release of it by late November.

Nalini's sketch via Instagram

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Website: naliniarora.com
Instagram: /naliniaroradotcom
Twitter: @lashoegirl 
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