Accessories, Interviews, ShoesTDO Interview: Barefoot Tess

What woman doesn’t love shoes? We do!!! That’s why we were very excited to interview Chelsea Strickler, the buyer for Barefoot Tess. This online shoe retailer offers a carefully curated selection of designer shoes, specializing in large size sole styles. Check out our interview with Chelsea and find out what brands are investment-worthy, what you need in your closet now and much, much more!

TDO: We have to admit – you pretty much have our dream job. Can you give us an idea of what an average day is like for you?
Chelsea Strickler: BUSY! Buying shoes for Barefoot Tess is not like buying shoes for your average shoe boutique. Our goal is to offer the same cute, trendy shoes that a size 7 can buy to girls that wear a size 11, 12, 13…even 14 and 15! This requires a lot of back end work on our part, negotiating with shoe companies and sometimes getting down on our hands and knees, begging them to make larger size shoes for us. It’s quite expensive and labor intensive for companies to open larger sized shoe lasts and molds, which is the main reason it is so difficult for us to get the larger sizes made. After the initial season working with us, most vendors realize what a large market they are missing out on and are excited to go forward.

TDO: I think one of the hardest things about fashion is keeping up with trends. How do shoe trends differ from clothing trends?
CS: With shoe trends, you really have to pay attention to materials, toe shapes and heel heights. Right now, patent leather is hot…and so are round toes, flats and tall flat boots. We also try to pay attention to up and coming designers like Loeffler Randall and Matt Bernson (among many others!), but not ignore the classics like Delman.Â

TDO: It seems like we’re back to rounded toes now. Does that mean we can’t wear our pointed-toe shoes any more? And honestly, promise me, we’re not going toward square toes any time soon!
CS: Round toes are definitely back and are popular on many different styles of shoes…from flats, to heels, to boots. I would not toss your pointed shoes just yet; pointed toes are still great sellers for us and will always be a classic. I’ll be on the look out for square toes at the next shoe show!

TDO: Talk to us about your picks for fall. What shoes do we all need in our closets to be really on-trend this season?
CS: Boots. Flat knee high boots are a must have for fall. The classic leather riding inspired boot is always one to fall back on, but we are seeing a lot of new fabrications this fall including patent leather riding boots as well as shearling and fur accents.

Also, don’t discount the moccasin. We have moccasins this year from Dolce Vita, Minnetonka, Mocs and a new up and coming designer called Manimal. She makes all of her shoes by hand in her apartment in Boston – and they are truly unique and amazing in every possible way.

TDO: A lot of us have a hard time knowing when to invest in a shoe that really will be timeless and always in style, versus just buying something inexpensive because it’s trendy and will be out of style in a week. Do you have any advice?
CS: If you are going to invest in a shoe, I would make sure that it is something timeless and well made. Our best selling “investment” brands are Delman and Loeffler Randall. Your Grandma probably had a pair of Delman’s in her closet; they really know how to make a beautiful, quality shoe. Loeffler Randall is a newer, hipper brand that makes beautiful riding-inspired boots, flats and heels. These will set you back a few hundred dollars but they are beautiful, fresh and perfectly made.

TDO: Any styles we should be throwing away yet?
CS: Hmm…fashion is so interesting now because it really seems like if you wear it right anything goes.

TDO: What’s ahead for spring shoes? What trends should we be watching for?
CS: Gladiator-inspired sandals are still going to be strong in the spring, as well as ballet flats in fresh beautiful colors and materials. Patent leather is not going anywhere any time soon and we also saw a ton of large floral embellishments on shoes…on the front, the side, everywhere! My favorite spring shoe is a sandal from Chie Mihara with an enormous white leather flower on the side.

TDO: And last but not least, we all have that amazing pair of shoes in our closet that just makes us feel fantastic, and works with even the trickiest outfit (or, at least, we dream of that shoe!). What is your favorite shoe that’s in your closet now?
CS: Wow. That is a toughie!!! I have a LOT of shoes so it’s hard to pick a favorite. Can I pick two? I think it’s a tie between my Loeffler Randall “Matilde” boot and my French Sole “Rebel”. Both equally amazing.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Chelsea! For more information, please visit BarefootTess.com.

The Daily Obsession draws from the expertise of a coast-to-coast editorial team offering dedicated readers reports of the most luxurious products and trends. We provide sophisticated and relevant angles on the latest fashion trends, must-have beauty products, insider interviews, travel destinations and of course, our current obsessions.

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