Chie Mihara: Shoes for Lasting Love
Shoes can quickly transform an outfit as well as how you feel. Whether you’re dressing up something simple with an elegant pair of heels or dressing down your finest, comfort is paramount. Chie Mihara provides all of this and more.
My first encounter with Chie was through a pair of shoes at an eclectic shop on the Milan canals; they caught my eye. A bold mix of neutral snakeskin and bright orange details, I couldn’t pass up something so unique and versatile. Trying them on, I felt exactly as Chie hoped, great, comfortable, and in love with how I looked wearing the shoes.
Entering Chie’s studio, she told me one finds two large windows with sweeping vistas of the mountains near Elda, Spain. Together with whitewashed wood floors, they create a luminous friendly atmosphere offset by vintage furniture. She keeps fashion history books on hand for inspiration. And, of course, shoes.
Developing a Personal Style
Chie describes her personal style as minimalist. She enjoys brands like COS and Max Mara and pairs them with Chie Mihara lace-ups.
Since she was very young, drawing Manga and creating stories in notebooks, she enjoyed fashion. Eventually, she studied fashion in Tokyo and began her career under designers there. Her background in fashion enabled her to design a unique yet commercial-conscious footwear line.
She attributes the attention to detail, so apparent in her shoes (some are hand painted), to her Japanese heritage. While she believes her links to Brazil bring in the brightness. She learned about high-quality shoemaking in Spain and brings all these aspects together in her designs.
Community for Design
Elda, Spain, is “a very close-knit community,” so Chie works hand in hand with suppliers. All shoes and a majority of materials are sourced and produced locally. All suppliers use supply chain tracking to ensure full transparency and understanding of the origins and development of their materials.
With only about 23 employees, most of whom have been with Chie Mihara since the beginning, the close-knit atmosphere extends to the family business. The love of this community and passion for their craft transfer to a Chie wearer.
Chie’s aim is for this to be a lasting love as well. With an eye towards sustainability, she avoids trends— believing that timeless design and superior quality create products the wearer will keep for a long time (the best way to avoid waste). Chie herself still wears shoes from collections from over ten years ago.
Additionally, Chie Mihara avoids the waste of mass production by only producing based on pre-orders from customers. In the future, Chie hopes to carry these principles to a full line of handmade clothing from their family-owned factory. Handbags have already entered the mix this season.
Looking at the latest fall collection, Chie continues to prove that quality-made goods will always triumph. Moreover, her love for the craft proves that design can drive sustainability.
Explore more Chie Mihara at chiemihara.com
Words by Emma Voigt