[Herald Interview] You can have style and comfort, too

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Mar 12, 2017 - 19:15
  • Updated : Mar 12, 2017 - 19:18

When it comes to shoes, there is no need to compromise comfort over style -- or vice versa.

“Technology has made it easier to have both,” said Fred Allard, chief creative director of the GRI Group, during an interview with The Korea Herald on Saturday. “As a designer you have no choice. They (shoes) must be comfortable. Women are working now,” said Allard, who worked as a shoes and accessories designer at European shoe brands and the Nine West Group in the US before joining the Hong Kong-based GRI Group in 2012. 

Fred Allard poses at a Minelli pop-up store in the Shinsegae Department Store Gangnam branch in Seoul on Saturday. (GRI Korea)

At GRI Group, he oversees the design aspects of 12 brands -- retail brands as well as in-house ones -- meaning he has on his hands the design of products, packaging, logos, stores and the overall stylistic direction of the companies.

The active lifestyles of women today has changed the role of shoes in a woman’s wardrobe. “Shoes, thanks to Louboutin and Chloe, pushed accessories to the front line in the ’70s and ’80s,” he said.

Today, however, sexy high heels have given way to sneakers, reflecting today’s lifestyles as well as women’s new confidence. “Pumps no longer mean empowerment,” he said. It is more powerful to be active, to have freedom of movement and consequently sneakers are taking a big portion of sales over pumps, he observed.

“Women are very good at understanding what they can use from fashion to make themselves stronger,” Allard said.

This season’s shoes reflect that trend, “Oxfords, lace-ups, hybrid platforms, and loafers have boyish feelings,” Allard said. But as is typically the case with fashion, things are mixed up to create new attitudes. The seemingly more casual designs come with feminine details such as pearls and lace, Allard highlighted.

As for their colors, the shoes this season come in two major groups, according to Allard. “(The) first group is the bright colors, yellow and green, for example. Then you have the white and the pastels and pearl leathers,” he said.

“Women are very good at understanding what they can use from fashion to make themselves stronger,” Allard said. 

By Kim Hoo-ran (