We love introducing you to inspirational women who are challenging the norm with the aim to bring you something exceptional and different.
Ashley Lim, creator of the self-named luxury shoe brand, is definitely one of these women. We were lucky to meet last year when we pooled our resources to open the doors to our pop-up, Australian Designers Collective, in The Rocks, and have been creative inspiration and collaborated ever since.
For a start, she’s a trained architect who has turned her aesthetic principles and design skills to fashion. Now with the launch of her latest collection, WORKING GIRL 2019, via crowdfunding platform Indiegogo, she’s challenging the traditional shoe business model.
All her shoes are handmade from premium Italian leather by craftsmen with over 30 years of experience at a family-run footwear design workshop in Lim’s native city, Seoul, South Korea. You know this is something we value highly at Hills & West, so wanted to share her story, introduce you to the beautiful process of making shoes and her latest collection.
‘Since we started, we have always been about making beautiful, stylish shoes that are also comfortable and ergonomically sound. We’ve now been able to reduce the price and make them affordable – up to 40% less than my last range. Women can have it all!’
Tell us a little about yourself?
An architect-turned-shoe designer based between Sydney, Australia and Seoul, South Korea.
When did you start making shoes?
I launched my first collection in August 2014. I have collaborated with a couple of other RTW (read to wear) fashion labels, most recently ROOPA.
Since established in 2014, I’ve been fortunate to see my shoes featured in prestigious fashion magazines with the likes of Vogue, Elle, Marie Claire, and many more. Most recently, I was honoured to be recognised by Habitus Magazine as one of the ’10 Top Asian Fashion Designers To Note’. I’ve also seen some powerful women wearing ASHLEY LIM shoes including Kelly Rowland to Australia’s former First Lady.
Womanhood. And art (especially performing art and film) and architecture. I often find my inspiration from Surrealism and Dadaism if I can be more specific.
As an architect turned shoe designer, I relate my shoe making process to that of architecture. Sketch design – design development – construction (technical) drawings – (shoe) construction – test and make changes if necessary – final product.
Shoe making is a very complex process. This is somewhat a simplified version.
From the sketch design, firstly, we make a new last (a wooden or high-density plastic form) based on the design. Select the material. Once we have the new last, we make patterns. Cut the material and the sole. Punch if applicable, stitch, sew, assemble uppers. Then, lasting. Lasting is the process by which shoes are shaped around a high-density plastic form, called a last. Then, they are placed into an oven to allow the leather to cure. Once the curing process is complete, we trim the soles, attach them with the heels, and polish them to finish.
Tell us about your latest collection ‘Working Girl’.
Marilyn Monroe once said ‘Give a girl the right pair of shoes and she’ll conquer the world’.
After a copious amount of caffeine and countless nights of very little sleep, I’m super excited to share our latest collection WORKING GIRL 2019.
Working girls have many roles and are often required to be a wonder-woman: working full-time, hitting the gym, maintaining a social life, and being a super-mum before and after work. Working girls want to conquer the world.
Every superhero has a mortal enemy and for most of us, it’s our shoes. There is more to shoes than just looks. The right pair of shoes should be a combination of style and comfort that make us feel special, look great and boost our confidence from the ground up. Most of the time, however, we are left with no choice but to compromise: either pretty but painful shoes or comfortable yet boring shoes.
As a tribute to all hard-working women around the world, our new collection inspires power, confidence, and femininity that high-heels evoke but with a great level of comfort that enables you to go after your dreams whilst looking fabulous and feeling comfortable.
This collection is exclusive to Indiegogo (a crowdfunding platform). Simply put, crowdfunding;
Allows you to pre-purchase shoes from my new collection WORKING GIRL 2019 at a special price – 30% less than the recommended retail price.
Allows ASHLEY LIM to offer you a luxury made to measure (MTM) service for uncompromising fit and comfort as a complimentary service, with an option of getting individual sizing for right foot and left foot, aka split size.
Allows ASHLEY LIM to offer greater value: we can now invest more in quality and design and reduce traditional shoe-retail costs including excess stock, advertising and overheads.
Unlike other Internet stores which simply cut costs by removing the ‘bricks and mortar’ – and thereby removing the personal shopping experience – by innovating the process and crowdfunding this allows women to invest in shoes, customisable to exact sizing (for each foot) through a made-to-measure (MTM) facility.
This means that your next pair of ASHLEY LIM shoes don’t exist in a warehouse waiting for purchase: they are made exclusively for you when you order. Likewise, there’s no disappointment in going online to find a store doesn’t have your size. This way, you never miss out.
The other benefit for the business is there are no remaindered shoes, which then need to be heavily discounted, and this financial advantage is passed on to the customer at the start of the season. It’s also an environmental win: no waste because every shoe crafted is intended for a wardrobe.
This is also a first for a crowdfunding campaign. Usually crowdfunding is about producing generic items which anyone can use. It could be a book, a music album, a suitcase or an appliance. Even if the item is available in different sizing, there isn’t the option to make to measure. I’m thrilled that we are exploring the advantages of these modern technologies to support a small, traditional, handmade craft that is often inaccessible.
KICK ASS sneakers
Any advice for anyone else thinking of starting a business?
Do your market research. Then, understand it’s really ok that your first attempt is not perfect. After all, as the founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman said is true. “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”
5 People To Follow
@sixnfive @ronanbouroullec @bof @beyonce @oraclefox
ASHLEY LIM’s shoes have also been designed with advice from Dr. Kylie McCulloch, president of the NSW Podiatry Association, Australia, which ensures they are not only good-looking but also supportive of your lifestyle. Now that has to get you heel tapping.
They are absolutely stunning so please do support her and treat yourself to some gorgeous and comfortable shoes via Indiegogo here.