Throughout the last couple years of working in this industry, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some incredibly talented people – some of whom I am lucky enough to call my friends. I am more than thrilled to announce that designer Amanda Lew Kee, one of my closest honey badgers, has teamed up with the dynamic duo behind shoe and accessories brand, Sully Wong, to create a limited edition line of luxury kicks exclusively for women (sorry, fellas.) Now, you might be thinking that I’m a little biased here – of course I am – but the fact of the matter is, this is one bad ass shoe that deserves your attention. Ladies (and gents), take a look and decide for yourself.
Check out that leather. Drool!
Named the SWALK HI, this slick high-top offers women an option to go off-duty without looking, well, off-duty. Clean and minimal, they’re designed to, “amplify the quality of the chosen materials and unique details,” via the premium raw-cut leather uppers, Japanese leather-lined denim interior (sick!), silver stitch-tag detailing, black waxed rope laces and contrasting white soles.
“The SWALK HI collaboration personifies all aspects, both in design and philosophy, which Sully Wong and I share as a team. The design itself is sleek, smart and constructed with the finest attention to detail and luxury materials. Together we are aiming to give the women’s market a sophisticated limited edition option, in the realm of casual athletic footwear, focusing on quality over quantity.” – Amanda Lew Kee
What I love the most is that they’re unassuming and could just as easily work on a guy as a girl (matching pairs, anyone?) The real beauty of the shoe, however, isn’t evident at first glance but will come with continued use. Like your favourite pair of jeans or leather jacket, what these guys have managed to do is combine two materials that only get better with age. With the raw Japanese denim, you’ll get a nice patina set into the material that will give a truly unique reflection of the person wearing the shoe. In a sense, it almost tells a story of all the adventures that the person has taken while wearing them.
Now, offering a great product is wonderful, but someone who is doing their job considers all aspects in order to elevate the consumer experience, and a large part of that has to do with packaging. Extending the creative process, each shoe also comes with a denim dust bag to round out something special that people can take home. It’s little details like these that really go a long way.
Catching up with Amanda over one of our regular coffees in downtown Toronto, I decided to ask her ten quick questions to get a better idea of how the shoe came to be, her style essentials and what advice she can offer the boys.
10 Questions with Amanda Lew Kee
1. How did this collaboration begin?
George and Henry invited me to collaborate on the first Sully Wong women’s premium sneaker design. They were interested in targeting an angle of the women’s market that I represent – young professionals who live a global lifestyle of comfort and casual luxury with an appreciation for quality over quantity.
2. How did you guys work together? What input did each party contribute?
The essence of a successful collaboration is when the collaboratives can mix and move in the same direction. Sully Wong presented me with a beautiful shoe with such fascinating textures and a sleek silhouette that resonated so much with my aesthetic that right there and then we collectively decided that was the one! The sneaker exhibits the beautiful balance of the masculine athletic nature of SW and the bold and sophisticated look of ALK. They gave me the assignment to explore the design through styling and images. I approached the shoe as a complete look and began to add finer details in the same way that I dress and layer on jewelry in the morning. Silver hand-stitched double tag to accent the feminine ankle, silver foiled lettering to elevate the heel, all minimal and all with purpose. For the images I worked with a talented group that I’ve known for a very long time; photographer Christopher Wadsworth, stylist Serge Kerbel, hair and make up artist Justine Veneracion. We spent a fun morning shooting at Drake 150, adding another layer to the project through use of images, bringing life and soul to the product. This was my favourite part of creation, experimenting with the final sneaker in a real setting; collaborating with the photographer, stylist and make-up artist to amplify the sneaker from an already beautiful product to an animated lifestyle.
3. What did you learn from your past collaboration with Roots and experience as a designer that you brought over to this project?
Always trust your gut. Communication is key.
4. Did you have a muse or inspiration for this particular style?
The bold and confidant woman who appreciates comfort without ignoring aesthetic. A woman like Cara Delevingne or Rihanna.
5. What defines Canadian fashion to you?
Perosnally, Canadian fashion is defined by taking risks. The market in Canada is very small compared to the global playing field. It takes hard work and guts to claim your piece and make your mark. Take chances and learn lessons.
6. Why did you decide to use mixed materials in the design of the shoe? Why was that important?
I love the contrasts of textures and believe that the strongest way to express this is to refine and break down to basics.
7. How should women incorporate this into their style repertoire?
The sneaker is designed as a transitional piece. It’s bold and sophisticated aesthetic can bring a look from day to night through all four seasons.
8. What are some must-have essentials that you never forget before heading out the door?
I always carry a moleskin and a purple pen to jot down notes and ideas, my iPhone to stay connected, a compact leather wallet that is easy to find in my purse, one neutral and one bold lipstick in case my mood changes throughout the day and a Quartz movement wristwatch because i’m old-fashioned at heart.
9. What’s next? Will there be more shoes in the future? Perhaps a dip into the menswear game?
I’ve been working on a project with The Drake Hotel group and I look forward to further developing my design range outside of clothing. My goal is to never stop learning and always create.
10. Help the guys out. What’s the best piece of advice you can give men when it comes to dressing themselves?
Always dress your best. You never know what type of situation you will face. A properly pressed dress shirt or creased trouser can take you a long way in life.