MAGAZINE February 22nd, 2021

MEHER KAKALIA Interview

 

She lived in London for almost twenty years. After Brexit, Meher Kakalia moved to Berlin. A city less sophisticated than London but brewing with art and anything but provincial. There is a shopping street where Meher dreams of opening her store. From Berlin, she tells us something about her brand.

What are your iconic shoes?

"Colorful ballet flats for summer and boots for winter." 

How and when did you decide to become a shoe designer?

"I was born in Karachi and studied finance in London, but I wasn't cut out for that job. I felt the creative calling growing inside me, so I decided to open a brand with a link to my roots. I've always loved all things antique, embroidery, and traditional precious objects. I decided to take my shoes' brand by linking back to the manufacturing tradition of Karachi."

So you produce in Pakistan with local artisans.

"Exactly, actually I also produce elsewhere, in India or Portugal, let's say I like to develop the product where there is a strong tradition on the ground. Going back to Karachi, I found these Pakistani women artisans who make shoes, and they've been making them the same way for 400 years, since the time of the Mughal empire. These women had to travel and leave their children at home, so we arranged for them to work directly from their homes in the villages. We print the design. They have a clear example of what they need to do with embroidery. They make it, and then from the village, the embroidery travels by bus to the atelier where our shoes are made. At first, I thought traveling on the bus would cause the embroidery to fail, but it is an efficient system that works very well and is in everyone's interest. We try to buy leather locally (while the accessories of the shoes are usually Italian): the beautiful thing is that all the shoes are different from each other, with a handmade character".

What are you presenting at WHITE?

"More than a true FW collection given the period we are facing that will be a capsule, but I want it to be special. I did something unusual by putting together African shell fabrics and real Scottish tartan for highly recognizable boots." 

Do you have a dream for the future?

"Opening a store here in Berlin, continuing to do collaborations, and launching the menswear collection."

 

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