I’ve spent the last three weeks on vacation and allowed my mind to go numb, took myself off the grid and checked in to the Hotel Coleman for a mind and body break in the great outdoors. For three glorious weeks, I didn’t come within an inch of a kitten heel, let alone 2″, 3″ or 4″ heels, allowing my arches to fall as they naturally should. My feet have never felt better. However, I’m back to the grind and forced my feet back into some of my more torturous heels, but I love them and suffer I will. By the end of the week, my feet were screaming at me to please put a stop to this nonsense.
We all know that the perfect shoe can complete an outfit by giving it that much needed pop or polish, but when it comes to walking long distances, doing errands on your lunch break or heading to a meeting that is not far enough away to warrant a taxi, but just far enough that it forces you to pick between your killer heels or comfortable flats, what’s a girl to do. Sigh, choosing between style and comfort poses a real challenge. We also know that it’s a pain to lug around an extra pair of shoes every day so that you have one that you can walk in and another that you wear sitting at your desk, maybe catwalk down the hall a few times a day and hope someone notices their awesomeness.
Fret not because a solution is just a click away. The footwear whisperer has spoken and she has said “give your arches a break today.” So subliminal messaging took effect and I popped over to McDonald’s for a quick McMeal deal before starting the post.
Shoe genius Tanya Heath, of TANYA HEATH Paris, has answered my feet prayers by devising footwear that allows you to swap out your heels with a variety of height, width and styles to suit your journey, what the occasion commands or what your feet demand. Tanya has shown that you don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort. Together with a team of engineers and footwear technicians, they created a heel and shoe system that is both stylish and comfortable and ready to take you to any event.
How does it work exactly? It is a single shoe with heels that are sold separately. Customers can purchase a variety of mix and match heels that can easily be clicked in and out of in order to change the style, height, color, etc. in seconds. There are so many combinations that one can feel like they are wearing a new pair of shoes every day. So essentially, you select the lower heel for walking to the office, then click off and into the higher but chunkier heel for the office (or to go with that great 70s style of the season), then click out of it and replace the heel with the skinnier stiletto for after work cocktails, all using the same shoe as a base. What could be easier? Simply carry the heels in your handbag and swap it out in seconds when you are ready to change the look. It’s so portable that you can probably even fit the heels in the teeniest of mini bags, though you may have to pick between the keys, gum or sunglasses. We can’t have it all, you know.
So put your Dr. Scholl’s For Her Fast Flats to the back of your closet and slip into a pair of TANYA HEATH Paris interchangeable shoes and heels. I know you will love them. I am smitten. The only ones who may begrudge the footwear whisperer are the chiropodists as they find themselves with fewer patients.
Read more about TANYA HEATH Paris shoes, inspiration and taking this concept and making the vision into a reality in my interview with the lady herself.
The Fashion Fix: How did you become a footwear designer?
Tanya Heath: While I have no formal training, I have taken classes with the CTC and the IFM (Institute Française de la Mode) in Paris.
FF: How would you describe the TANYA HEATH Paris brand?
TH: TANYA HEATH Paris is a global luxury brand at the forefront of fashion and innovation that creates transformative footwear and accessories for modern women who don’t want to sacrifice comfort for style, and allows them to express different looks. As a brand, we are all about empowering women and if the shoe or design won’t work for women, we won’t do it.
FF: Can you describe your creative process? Where do you take inspiration for the various shoe styles?
TH: For the first few collections, we focused on re-creating timeless styles that would work with the multi-height heel. Now that we have been able to recreate the basics, we are starting to focus on seasonal trends. Each season has a muse and when creating the new collections we always ask ourselves if she would wear it. If not, what do we have to do so that it would be something she would wear. This is really helping the company move forward with a coherent artistic direction and it makes the final collection choice easier.
FF: How did you come up with the concept for the interchangeable heels?
TH: I spent 15 years working in private equity, innovative high technology and even as a professor or innovation. Over the years, I struggled to find a shoe that was versatile enough for my busy lifestyle; I needed a shoe that was fashionable enough for work, yet comfortable enough to walk my children to school. After unsuccessfully seeking a pair of shoes that could reconcile comfort with style, I decided to take matters into my own hands. In 2009, I began working on my first pair of shoes. With the help of 14 engineers and shoe technicians, plus several designers and master boot makers, I created a heel and shoe system that was both stylish and comfortable.
FF: What were some of the challenges you faced in bringing this concept to reality?
TH: The technical challenge of building a shoe with interchangeable heels was enormous. The shoe was initially considered impossible and no one had ever succeeded in creating a multi-height shoe before. There were many hidden challenges that even we did not anticipate. Artistically for example, once we had the technology on how the multi-height shoe would work, it took us 18 months and countless prototypes to get a beautiful, classic shoe. Another challenge we had was how to merchandise the shoes and heels so that we could visually explain to clients how the shoes work. Each new phase of the company ushers in new challenges and as we grow the challenges change.
FF: What were some unexpected benefits that you realized along the way?
TH: The initial goal was to have a multi-height shoe with removable heels that would be both comfortable and glamorous. This has been achieved! What we did not expect at all was how fun the heels would be! Before we created TANYA HEATH Paris, it had been impossible to easily click in and out of a heel, but now you can change the style or color in seconds. What really surprised us is just how many unexpected combinations worked and how you could change style universes simply by changing the heel on the very same shoe.
FF: Have you had to adapt/change the concept based on customer feedback?
TH: Initially we sold shoes in a package of 2 pairs of black heels, 1 high, 1 low, with each pair of shoes, but customers complained about this and always wanted to include the heels that they wanted. So after a year , we stopped selling the package. Now a customer can choose their shoes and as many heels as they want in whatever height, color or style they want.
FF: Who is your target market and what would you envision TANYA HEATH Paris shoe wearer’s lifestyle to be?
TH: I imagine the target market to be women like myself: those who find wearing a heel all day to be painful, but still wants to look fashionable. What we are finding is that not only are people buying for that reason, but there are also two additional markets that we didn’t originally anticipate. One is women who travel a lot and likes being able to reduce their luggage by packing one pair of shoes and multiple heels. The other are women who like to change their look and style between outfits and enjoy being able to do so just by changing their heels.
FF: Does your work reflect your own personal style identity and taste?
TH: Yes, very much so. I tend however to be a little more basic black than my clientele. I wear metallic when I feel like being a bit more adventurous.
FF: What is the price point for TANYA HEATH Paris footwear?
TH: Shoes start at $495 CAD and heels start at $50 CAD.
FF: Where do you see taking the TANYA HEATH Paris brand?
TH: We are intent upon becoming a global fashion brand so at the moment there is a big push to opening TANYA HEATH Paris boutiques internationally. We also have plans to start diversifying our product line. Stay tuned for what products we have in the works.
FF: I’m really interested in street style and how individuals around the world put their on spin on fashion. What are your thoughts on how TANYA HEATH Paris fits with the It Girls of street style?
TH: The nice thing about TANYA HEATH Paris is that you are not just wearing a creators’ interpretation of what you should be wearing, you are wearing your own personal take on your style, your interpretation of a season, your desires. I’m fascinated by one’s ability to express themselves with TANYA HEATH Paris and break beyond the confines of fashion.
FF: If you were a statement shirt, what would it say?
TH: Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.