First things first. Welcome to the J Journal!
Two thousand sixteen marks our twentieth year in the footwear industry. To celebrate, we have launched a brand new website and blog to boot. The J Journal blog will be a space for exploration into the world of J SHOES and the people who wear and create them. We thought it fitting, that for our very first post, we would share an interview with our new head designer and creative director, Katie Ridges.
Tell us about how you got started in footwear design.
I started my journey at Cordwainers college in London. In my second year I visited Lineapelle trade show in Italy, where I met a footwear designer, hailing from Shanghai. We got on instantly! After the show she said that I should come and work with her. I initially dismissed this offer as a wild notion, but 6 months later I found myself on a flight to Shanghai and spent the next year designing, sourcing and living the highlife in China. This was the start of my journey and opened many doors after.
Will you share a bit about your design process? Where does your inspiration come from?
Everything! It’s difficult to pin point. I’m not consciously being inspired; I just soak up what’s around me. Living in London is a constant source of inspiration, the people, the shops; you can’t get away from this city’s expression of style. Having said this, I have a strong influence from found treasures; I spend time with my father and brother (both antiques dealers) in France trawling Brocantes for my next find. It may be a vintage trunk, lamp, piece of beautiful designer furniture or indeed a pair someone’s much loved shoes. I love objects that have faced the test of time and are still relevant today; this is what I strive for in my design.
You have an adorable son and work from a home office. How do you maintain a work / life balance?
Having a 2 year old little boy enforces this. He is my draw away from work. I love what I do, so sometimes it’s hard to separate, but he really does help me do more! Oh and using my fit bit!! She makes me run!!
How do you relax?
Well, that’s a lovely notion - Relaxation! I’m a bit of a foodie, so our local farmers market on a Sunday, followed by a pub lunch is my idea of heaven! Failing that, escaping to my home town by the sea is always a much loved break.
If you weren’t designing for the world’s greatest footwear line, what would your “plan b” career be?
I love anything creative, so my plan B career is always changing. I nearly did print design when I was at university and would always like to revisit this at some point. Either that or open my own antiques shop and café...that’s the dream!
How would you describe your personal style?
Practical and minimal. Becoming a mum made me adapt my style a little. It became much more focused. I invest in simple well-made garments now rather than filling my wardrobe with every trend going.
Most treasured item in your wardrobe?
My black leather Paul Smith handbag. It’s beautiful and simple, but has hidden detailing and colour in the lining. Everyone needs a good staple handbag in their wardrobe. This one just so happens to be designed by one of my best friends, so that’s a bonus!
What are your 5 essential pieces of clothing for winter?
This winter you will need a great pair of sneakers. For me, this is a must for running around after my little boy. A great pair of wide leg trousers to pair these with. Also, an oversized jumper, staple handbag and a good wooly hat.
What items do you feel are worth splurging on?
Obviously shoes! You have to look after your feet and a great handbag is a must. A well-fitting pair of jeans are a necessity. Mine are always ACNE skinny fit, without these in my wardrobe I feel lost!
Who is your style icon?
Yasmin Sewell – She is flawless and totally individual!
QUICK TEN WITH J :
WORDS TO THE WISE
Always take risks.
My Triple Tambour shelving unit that I found at a French antiques market. It’s amazing and stores all my shoes!
FAVOURITE FICTIONAL CHARACTER
This may be pretty uncool… but Miranda Hobbs from Sex in The City – A high powered successful working mum, who is always well dressed. I admire independence and drive, and she had it in abundance.
(We think that’s pretty cool!)
MOST USED EMOJI
Everything! Anything I find that I like the look of, be it 1950's furniture or art, anything that’s going to make our home look individual and unusual!
DRINK OF CHOICE
A lychee martini from Glamour bar in Shanghai! Always and forever!
I have been very lucky to have some fantastic meals in my time, so it’s very hard to pick! One of my most memorable meals was at Whampoa Club in Shanghai, totally out of this world fusion Cantonese food prepared in way that I have never experienced since. Plus they had amazing cocktails! Second to this, anything I have ever eaten in Tokyo!
LATEST MUSICAL MUSINGS
DIVV, “Is The Is Are” and Radiohead's latest album. Both Brilliant!
MOST PRIZED POSSESSION
The little gold wedding band I inherited from my great grandmother. It reminds me of her wicked sense of humor and her wonderful stubbornness!
SHOP KATIE'S LOOK HERE