British Shoe Designer Souraya Karami: Behind the Seams
I have shoes that I wear for comfort and shoes that I wear for cuteness. I have one pair of Esska shoes and those are the only pair I wear for both.
Esska is a London-based footwear line designed by former architect, Souraya Karami. The line was born in June of 2006 when Souraya realized there was a gaping hole in the market for shoes that could be worn from the office to the bars and not kill your feet in the meantime. She used her architectural background to transition from designing buildings to designing footwear. Her shoes are heavily influenced by line and form as well as her thirst to offer women shoes that are equal parts stylish and comfortable.
Today, Esska is world renowned for its stylish and unique designs and retails in Switzerland, France, Germany, Scandinavia, and the United States. Inspired by the streets, buildings, and bold colors of city life, each pair has a uniquely urban flavor. Beyond the supple leather and chic design, Souraya hopes her designs will make women feel good.
SB: Describe a typical day in your life.
Karami: In the last seven weeks, it has been feeding and changing my little baby boy. Before he was born, it was work, work, work. I wake up at seven, am in the office at nine, work until six or seven, go back home, prepare dinner with my husband (who is a good cook, so it’s mainly him who prepares; I just chat), have dinner, watch a movie or have friends over to play games, and sleep. (I admit it—I’m in bed by 10 p.m.!)
SB: How would you describe your personal style?
Karami: Relaxed and casual. Clean, minimal, and bold.
SB: When and how was your passion for fashion born?
Karami: It has always been there. When I was a kid, my mum told me that I used to put my new shoes next to me in bed. I have always loved shoes and was very picky about them.
SB: What advice do you have for aspiring designers?
Karami: Be focused, study your market, and plan well. If you are determined, talented, and focused, you have all you need to succeed.
SB: If any celebrity could wear your shoes, who would you choose?
Karami: My shoes. Hmmm …. tough one. I always get this question, and I struggle. I am not sure I design with celebrities in mind; I actually design with non-celebrities in mind! But they can all wear my shoes.
SB: If you were not a designer, what would you be?
Karami: A writer.
SB: Where do you shop?
Karami: Everywhere … In vintage shops, department stores, and mainly boutiques. I am not a shopaholic; I like to find pieces that I fall in love with. And it’s not easy.
SB: Describe how a design goes from your head to your hands.
Karami: I get inspired from everything, but I only start designing when I need to come up with a collection. Ideas get stored in my mind until I start the design process, and thus the sketches. I like clean lines and bold shapes, so there is a lot to play with.
To be honest, I design mainly with myself and my friends in mind. Some shoes, I think, “Oh, this would be prefect for Lina, it’s totally her style.”
From friends in the UK to consumers in the U.S., Souraya designs with the passion of an artist and the eye of an architect. While I am not lucky enough to call her one of my friends, I am lucky enough to have a pair of Esska shoes that is totally my style.
Behind the Seams is a series focusing on designers who are breaking the mold with their unique perspective on women’s fashion. If you would like to suggest a worthy designer, please send it to email@example.com for consideration.