Rupert Sanderson is a British luxury shoe designer. After resigning from the world of advertising, Sanderson honed his shoe design skills at London’s Cordwainers College before working under Sergio Rossi and Bruno Magli in Italy. In 2001, he launched his eponymous collection and went on to take home the British Fashion Council’s accessory designer of the year award, pen his own fashion column for British Vogue, and design the shoes for Karl Lagerfeld’s main catwalk collections to this day. Known for his meticulous detail and simplicity, Sanderson counts Keira Knightley, Kate Moss, Emma Watson and Kate Middleton among his loyal celebrity fan base.
You launched your namesake line in 2001. How has it evolved since then?
I launched e-commerce in 2006 and opened my first store in Bruton Place in 2008. Since then, I have opened a second store in London, one in Paris, and two in Hong Kong. As my business continues to grow fast, opening additional stores in multiple areas of the world is currently in the pipeline.
What did you learn from working at Sergio Rossi and Bruno Magli? How does it currently influence your collections?
Working for Sergio and Bruno was a template for running a shoe business the Italian family way. It introduced me to the wonderful suppliers and artisans that I still work with today.
You do the shoes for Karl Lagerfeld’s main line collection. What’s it like working with him?
Wonderful and exhilarating all at the same time!
Why do you think the UK produces so many interesting shoe designers?
Because we haven’t got any responsibilities to the manufacturing industry – this allows us to be creative.
Shoes are very personal for women and an investment purchases for many. How do you tap into this when designing each season?
My designs intend to provide ultimate flattery to the female foot. I have a series of signature “investment” styles that I rework each season – such as Elba, which offers a certain strictness and timeless elegance.
Do you have a muse or a woman in mind when thinking about new styles?
I find it doesn’t help me thinking about a single woman.
Shoes can easily become mini pieces of art. How do you balance the function with the details of your designs?
This perpetual challenge is the joy of shoe making – walking that thin line between form and function.
What defines a Rupert Sanderson shoe?
My design ethos is ‘less is more.’ I design classic pieces with a hint of wit and concentrate on dressing the foot using the most flattering lines, silhouettes and materials.