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Tamara Mellon

Tamara Mellon

by Melissa Magsaysay

The Accessories Icon Talks About Inclusive Fashion and Revolutionizing the Industry One Step at a Time

Since 2001, Tamara Mellon has been uplifting women (both their backside and confidence) with perfectly designed stilettos. Now, with her namesake brand, Mellon has built a business that creates, serves, employs and of course, still uplifts women, listening to them and giving them the footwear that best suits their lives.

Mellon has made it her mission to create a brand that consistently listens to its customers in real time. Her direct to consumer business model is nimble enough to pivot, design or re-design styles to address customer feedback.

Powerful Profile: Tamara Mellon
Photo Courtesy of Tamara Mellon

This feedback informed her latest launch - the new Icon boot, an offering of the classic Icon boot which was released in 2017, but now in 3 sizes. The small fits a 14.25-inch calf, medium fits a 14.96 inch calf, and finally large which fits a 15.75-inch calf.

True to Mellon’s track record of putting women first, the new calf sizes are a step toward making her business even more inclusive.

Here, she talks to Page 11 about challenging the status quo and literally breaking the mold in order to create a more innovative business.

“We know that we can’t accommodate everyone right now, but we are taking a step in the right direction.”

Q & A with Tamara

Are extended widths something you've been thinking about for a while? Why was now the time to launch?

We launched our original Icon boot in 2017 and it immediately became a best-seller. We quickly began to receive feedback from women telling us it didn’t fit their calves. But changing the width of the boot calf is not as simple as it sounds. It’s quite a process, as traditional Italian factories, where we make our shoes, only increase the calf size as the shoe size increases. This assumes that women with larger feet have larger calves (and vice versa), and of course that isn’t always the case.

Having a direct line of communication with our customer revealed how important this was to them, which means it is important to us. Being able to give our woman what she needs is the reason I started this brand.

Was the process more or less technically challenging than you've experienced previously? What was the biggest learning for you in doing this?

It was more technically challenging since our factories in Italy have not traditionally made custom calf widths. We measured the calves of our own team members, friends, and family to understand the most common sizes beyond what we already offered. It was less of a learning, and more of a reminder to always (always) break the rules and question tradition.

Do you believe there is a dearth of high end designer footwear that accommodates wider width and calf? Why do you think this is an underserved market?

I know a few designers who offer wider widths, but to my understanding, we are the first to offer the choice of a small, medium, and large calf size per shoe size. I think designers can get stuck in doing things the way they’ve been done in the past, and it requires taking a step back and questioning your business model in order to innovate.

Do you feel the fashion industry has become more inclusive than when you started in it? If so, how?

Absolutely. It’s wonderful to see brands acknowledging that the majority of women are not sample size. I’m very proud to be a part of this movement. We know that we can’t accommodate everyone right now, but we are taking a step in the right direction.

What more can the industry be doing to be more inclusive and push the conversation and process of being more accepting, forward?

Take more risks, and don’t be neutral on the things that matter.

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