When Gabrielle Coco Chanel began borrowing from the vocabulary of menswear, she revolutionized fashion. It is now commonplace. Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe, and Thom Browne are just some designers who continually subvert gender stereotypes and challenge typical femininity and beauty standards. One effective way they do so is by using traditional men’s footwear on their runways.
This season, Carolina Herrera’s creative director Wes Gordon followed suit. Gordon imbued the spring 2021 collection with a far more casual, youthful vibe by accessorizing with flat brogues. Wingtips, oxfords, and brogues have a timeless appeal that ultimately transcends trends, and I’ve always thought there’s something interminably cool when women wear them. So does Angela Scott.
In the spring of 2012, Angela launched The Office of Angela Scott. Ms.Scott is determined to preserve the traditional craft of shoemaking. She wants to take the same high quality and expert craftsmanship offered to men and recreate the designs to feel powerful and feminine. Among Angela’s celebrity fans are Julia Roberts, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Aniston, Halsey, and Ellen DeGeneres.
“I started this brand because I wanted to eliminate the idea that a woman couldn’t be sexy in flats. Women have been sexy in flats since the 1950s. Whoever said comfort isn’t a good look must have never seen Brigitte Bardot or Audrey Hepburn.” – Angela Scott
I spoke with the Santa Barbara-based designed by phone on Friday. Ms. Scott, who once wore nothing but high heels, now has a propensity for comfortable shoes. She is on a mission to prove that women can look sexy in flats. She wants to show the woman who is not quite sure how to wear an oxford that it can be worn softly and in a feminine way.
Footwear has always been a passion for the designer who interned at UGG during college. While working at a construction company to help pay tuition, Angela fell in love with the entire building process, from the concept and the drawings to the completed structure. “But that’s also where I learned I didn’t want to be a woman running in high heels behind men because that was me. I was around an all-male crew 99 percent of the time, and I felt that I had to dress in a certain way to be taken seriously. It made an impression on me, and I wanted to change it” says Ms. Scott.
Angela believes shoes are the “defining feature” of any woman’s wardrobe. Men turn their heads when they see another man driving by with a nice car, and women turn their heads when they see a woman walking past with nice shoes. “Women’s shoes are like men’s cars; little Porsches for the feet” Angela opines.
All of Angela’s shoes are constructed by hand at a family-owned factory in Portugal using Italian leather and textiles. Goodyear welt construction adds to the sustainability of Scott’s designs. Skilled craftspeople assemble the components over several weeks, adding elements such as a cork insole designed to mold to your feet, a dovetail heel, and a leather outsole that can be re-soled. Each vegetable-tanned leather outsole is embossed with the brand’s signature logo as a testament to craftsmanship.
Angela named the company, The Office of Angela Scott, because as she says, “It’s not about me. It’s about all women; the collective. It’s about the office.” Angela believes the fashion industry doesn’t give enough credit or visibility to women who have regular jobs: the marketing executives, company vice presidents, CEOs, COOs. “There are so many incredible women doing wonderful things. I wanted to celebrate and honor women who are forging paths for women entrepreneurs like me” Angela says.
As the brand develops, Ms. Scott says she gets many emails from women who wear her shoes. “They say they walked into the boardroom and a man who never gives them the time of day stopped and compliments them on their shoes”. Angela observes that the shoes are really “conversation starters” and wants to give her customers more of them.
Angela is also thinking about ways the brand can be more of a resource for our women. “I’d love to offer tools and resources that make women feel confident—whether it’s a briefcase to stay organized or desk accessories. As women, if we can support, honor, and build each other up, I think the workplace will continue to look different” she says.
These days, fewer women are heading to an office, but Angela points out that many women still like to get dressed as if they were going to work. Still, it’s hard to ignore that we are all spending more time at home, and Ms. Scott is working to provide products that are more “house shoe-inspired”. Currently, Angela is busy designing something softer, more flexible, and a rubber sole instead of a leather sole. “It’s still dressed up, but there’s an ease to it,” she says.
Among Angela’s best-sellers are the Mr. Doubt brogue, the Mr. Colin monk strap, and the Mr. Evans plain wingtip. Angela’s bestselling boot is the wedge heel, Mr. Harrison. Prices range from $175 for the sneakers to $695 for the boots. The brogues and oxfords are from $495 – $550. In addition to her website, Angela’s footwear is available at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Olivela, and a few smaller boutiques around the U.S.
In 2015, Angela collaborated with the legendary recording artist will.i.am and his brand EKOCYCLE. These Angela Scott shoes are freakin’ awesome!” said will.i.am of the oxfords made of recyclable material and sold in Harrod’s of London. Ms. Scott also produced a small capsule collection of men’s shoes for Neiman Marcus. I asked if designing a men’s collection is of interest. Angela doesn’t rule anything out, but for now, she is focusing solely on women.