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Young Sydney creative Emily Cooper is the talented genius behind the men's footwear label Meandher, designing "gallant shoes for gallant men." Hand made from nubuck and suede leathers, Meandher is quickly becoming the quintessential shoe offering for men. Launched in February 2011, Cooper is taking the world by storm, already counting actor Orlando Bloom and Australian Rugby Union Player Adam Ashlee Cooper as fans.How did you get started in Meandher and what pulled you towards designing men’s footwear?
I was on the way home from an exchange to Law school in London and travelling through Argentina was where I began my affair with footwear. A natural affinity to be my own boss I started importing the traditional espadrille to Australia. After this it was the men that screamed loudest for shoes including my brothers who were on the endless search for great men’s footwear.You describe your brand as “gallant shoes for gallant men”, can you elaborate on this?
Gallant by definition is heroic, grand and chivalrous – all desirable qualities in a gentleman. I think that every man has his own definition of gallantry and would like to posses a little of it.How would you describe the design aesthetic of Meandher?KIS! – keep it simple.
Meandher’s aesthetic a clean and timeless approach to design respecting the traditional classics in men’s footwear.You like to oversee the whole process, from design to production. Why is this so important to you?
My objective is to provide men with the best quality, comfortable, great looking and fitting shoes and in order to do this I need to on top of and approving every step of the process.In a sea of manufacturing and fast fashion these days, how do you compete?
In focusing on the quality of the offering and always innovating and improving techniques in from design to manufacturing. Aesthetically it is our signature red heel caps and xx-stitch that distinguishes the shoes but the quality and comfort is what brings most back for more.What sort of man do you see wearing your shoes?
The Meandher man – not too concerned with fashion or caught up with trends. He has an eye for quality and a timeless, great looking product. The Meandher Man has a willful sense of independence with the intent of making his subtle, but cool mark.Do you believe Aussie men need to pay more attention to their footwear choices?
I do. Good looking well kept footwear can say a lot about a man, and women are not afraid to judge on this criterion – so pay more attention.And what kind of shoes should a guy never be caught dead in?
Certain shoes should be worn for certain occasions – All Aussie’s love pluggers but they have a place to be worn… the beach or with boardies, not on the end of a formal pant.
You’re currently studying at the prestigious Ars Storia School in Milan. Can you tell us a bit about the experience? Who have you worked with?
Incredible. The school has been instructing pattern makers and footwear technicians for the past 65 years and completely changing the way one looks at a shoe from a technical and design point of view. We learned intensively the intricacies of pattern making, varieties of leather and materials and made three pairs of shoes by hand from sketch to polish – very cool.
In my first week I sat next to the head of footwear production for Celine who was there to refresh her knowledge. We made a factory visit to Chanel and met producers of Hermes, Lora Piano and Prada. I was privileged to work with a last producer to tweak the Meandher lasts and tanneries all producing for the luxury labels of the world.
Not to be excluded from mention are those like my teacher Richard who has been in footwear factories since he was eight and a born teacher of the traditional craft.
On all levels the school has changed the way I see a shoe and opened the doors to an industry that I am passionate to explore with Meandher.What is the most treasured piece in your wardrobe?
A tough one as I just had my luggage pinched on my last flight visiting factories in Spain… So in my hands now I have my two most treasured rings – one from my grandmother Norma and the other from my mother - they never come off.What can we expect from your new season range?
The Collection offers gentleman great quality and affordable trans-seasonal footwear that are classic yet stylish. Timeless designs produced in masculine coloured leathers of nubuck, sap and suede feature throughout the Collection with Meandher’s trademark red heel and xx-stitch.
Meandher’s signature Samson and Jim are man’s all year round smart casual. The Harrison desert boot makes a come back due to popular demand. A luxe approach to the sneaker is seen in the new leather welted Maxamillion and a new wedge rubber sole Bob heads up the casual boot offering for the season.What inspired the new collection?
Think back to that cool grandfather and his dapper combination of old school style and charm. He oozed the charisma of Frank Sinatra, the lad in “The King of Cool” Steve McQueen and the manliness of a lumberjack. These traits combined with a modern twist form the inspiration behind Meandher’s Season Four Collection.Where can we find your collections?
Meandher is stocked in Australia at Somedays, Somewhere, Meanwhile and Beggar Man Thief. Available online at Meandher and selected boutiques in Japan.
The new season will be available mid-August.
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