City is Neet for feet
As any girl knows you just can't have too many shoes and with a brand new designer range about to hit the shops, its founder and designer tells Sunday Life why she chose the province to launch her collection
It's official. Northern Ireland is fashionable, and so says London shoe designer Anita Flavin who has chosen the province as her location for the launch of Cyan Shoes Ltd's new season collection!
"Belfast is a great city. The people here are starting to stand up and get noticed and due to the great economic climate here, we thought it the perfect place to launch this season's shoes and the best place to put all our energies into," said the woman behind the two funky, innovative shoe brands that are Neet and Minette. And she should know.
Having studied fashion management, business and finance at the much celebrated London College of Fashion, Anita, who is affectionately known to her friends as simply 'Neet', got her first fashion job in Colorado working for a ski-wear company where she developed great links with behind the scenes fashion professionals.
She then returned home to work for shoe retailer Office - the position that led to the creation of Cyan Shoes. "When I moved back to London from Colorado, I spent five years with Office and I thought, gosh, I'm going to work in the dark, coming home in the dark and thought I need to do something.
"I had already made factory connections while in America and although I learned a lot from Office, I discovered there was a real niche in the market that I could utilise, and from this, Neet and Minette were born.
"I source all my ranges from the Far East who use excellent quality leather components from Spain and Italy. It's where a lot of the big designers are working including Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs."
Two similar brands, with different personalities, Neet and Minette encompass everything that a girl loves about shoes.
While Neet, the oldest of the two brands has a more casual facet in the form of flat pumps and low heels, Minette is the "sexy, glamorous, older, naughty sister," says Anita.
Both brands are sold throughout numerous retailers in Northern Ireland, from Honey on the Lisburn Road to Heustons in Londonderry, Tiger Lily, Maghera, Bishops, Coleraine, Sole in Strabane and more, as well as online at www.neetshoes.com and www.minetteshoes.com - of which 30pc of clientele are from Northern Ireland.
Speaking about the labels, Anita added: "Neet is a quirky collection of mainly flats. The person who wears them is independent, she knows what she wants while Minette is sexy and glamorous. She's a Moulin Rouge courtesan who has swapped her lust for love with a passion for shoes.
"They're both really exciting brands made from the softest European leather and decorated using ribbons and bows and all things that sparkle! They come in rounded toes, platforms and stunning shades but they don't compromise on comfort."
Neet and Minette have a strong sense of sex appeal, they are the quintessential fairytale shoe too, especially Minette whose line fuses stack heeled sparkly metallic pumps with funky kitten heeled strappies and eye-catching peep toes in a spectrum of colours and textures that include lush reds, enticing cocoas, vibrant azures, snakeskin and squashy leather all using a medley of templates from decades gone.
They're the kind of shoe that yell for attention, the kind of footwear that sees other women walk up to you in a bar and quietly ask where you got them, and the kind of shoe that can completely invigorate any outfit.
"They stand out from the high street and we don't over expose them. We've identified different towns to suit both brands," continued Anita.
And that's the good thing about these brands, they're still relatively hush giving them that exclusive property that every girl craves for.
So what is it about our wee modest home that appealed to an established London shoe designer? "My mum is from Northern Ireland and I used to come here every summer for holidays, in Garvagh, Co Derry. I loved it. I loved the whole rural thing and so I decided to move here and work.
"I see Northern Ireland women stand up and take interest in what they're wearing, they've more disposable income and the future is promising."
And although Cyan is based in London where its showroom is located, Anita, the founder and designer of the company will base herself here.
In fact the shoes will be sponsoring this week's 'FASHIONWEEK event, where the collection will be showcased to hundreds of adoring Cinderellas.
€ Neet shoes start from around £45 while the Minette range begins at £75-plus.