hypekids Exclusive: How Louise Shill Updates Classic Styles for her Kid's Brand Young Soles

Meet the shoe designer giving children’s shoes a retro twist.

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London-based Young Soles has discovered the formula for making retro styles appealing to children, and it’s all thanks to the vision of its founder Louise Shill. After spending more than a decade in the footwear industry, Louise was eager to start her own brand for kids. Rather than turn to typical children’s clothing motifs however, she took British heritage fashion as her inspiration.

We recently caught up with Louise to talk about the development of Young Soles, where she draws her inspiration from, and what styles she’s enjoying at the moment. Read our full conversation below to find out about how her own experience as a parent inspires her designs, as well some of her favorite kids fashion picks.

Interview Young Soles Louise Shill footwear kids shoes

What inspired you to start Young Soles?

I’ve always followed a career in footwear design, having developed footwear around the world for over 15 years. After having my first child, I started to notice the lack of options for classic styles for kids. While there is a wealth of sensible school shoes, sneakers and sparkles, I wanted to be able to buy shoes for my daughter that reflected the styles and trends that I love.

How has living in London influenced your collection?

Living and working close to London’s creative heart in Shoreditch, I am constantly picking up inspiration from its colorful streets, architecture and people. I’m also hugely influenced by British heritage brands and retro styling. I’m constantly researching vintage styles and on the look-out for new and interesting ideas. There is always inspiration to be found, whether it’s borrowing from childhood memories, music or a style movement. I like to acknowledge trends but give them my own unique twist, mixing contemporary features with heritage patterns to create a fresh take on children’s shoes.

As a parent, what are the key components you look for in a children’s product?

Although my designs have a strong sense of style it is important for me as both a designer and a parent that my shoes are versatile and work with many different outfits. I’m also keen to ensure that I am offering a quality product to parents, a product that has all the benefits that a child’s shoe should have; lasts that follow the shape of the foot with a wide toe and narrow heel, comfortable soft leather uppers and linings that allow the upper to mould to the contours of the foot, and a lightweight and flexible outsole.

Interview Young Soles Louise Shill footwear kids shoes

What are some childhood references that you use to design your shoes?
The bulk of my design references actually come from my childhood memories. The “Rosie” model is based on a T-Bar shoe my brother used to wear as a child.

Do you think you’ll ever incorporate trendier styles into your line?

Young Soles was created as a reaction to current trends in children’s footwear. We always ensure our designs are inspired by classic styling and British heritage. We love to re-invent well-loved footwear styles and give them a contemporary twist. As long as we stay true to our philosophy, we believe we will always have a distinct product.

Are you looking to add new styles to the collection in the future? Do you plan on broadening the color palette?

I have a bank of new styles buzzing around my head for when I need them, but staying true to the Young Soles classic and contemporary fusion is always at the heart of every design.

I always try to add new touches, colors or styles to keep up with seasonal trends. For example, our Spring/Summer 2018 collection features blissed-out summer tones such as baby blue, pink suede and vanilla, alongside retro festival colors such as royal blue, rouge red and yellow.

Do you place more priority on a shoe’s aesthetic value or its quality?

All of our designs focus on the features that are most important to children’s footwear. Our shoes are made from soft leather, ensuring our uppers are as comfortable as can be. The lightweight and flexible soles offer grip and stability. All our styles offer practical and easy fastenings with Velcro, elastic, laces and buckles.

Interview Young Soles Louise Shill footwear kids shoes

When styling an outfit, do shoes or clothing taking priority?

A bit of a cheat, but I’d say the shoes make the outfit! Our range fuses traditional styles and classic tooling with modern features and a fresh color palette. I want to make nostalgic, quality and comfortable shoes that evoke memories for the parent and create new ones for kids.

Where do you see Young Soles in the future?

For now, I’m just concentrating on continuing to grow Young Soles in the UK and internationally by making shoes that people love. We’ve had phenomenal success worldwide but there are always new markets to explore. Who knows, maybe we’ll even have our own chain of physical stores one day!

Which childrenswear brands are you a fan of?

I like to flick through children’s fashion magazines to keep abreast of the latest brands and trends. However, in order to keep my ideas fresh I prefer to look at men’s and women’s trends and adapt them for Young Soles. I love iconic brands, such as Grenson and Liberty, and the fact that they are distinctly British. My love of Liberty fabrics has even followed through into the Young Soles collection, where we have used Liberty print fabric laces on our “Hattie” boot. They’ve had a fantastic response from buyers and the general public.

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Young Soles
InterviewsYoung SolesLouise Shill

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