Inclusivity is something that’s well overdue in the fashion industry, but more so in the world of shoe design. EGL sat down with Baltimore-based Shoe Designer, Tori Soudan, to pick her brain and more.
Tori Soudan’s shoes have been seen on everyone from Carrie Underwood to Angela Bassett to Debbie Allen to Bozoma St. John. In 2017, she unveiled her much-anticipated brick and mortar store in Tysons Galleria, but her line was originally launched in 2011.
Soudan describes her designs as the “classic statement” shoe that makes a statement, which transcends time and trends. The Tori Soudan Collections offer lots of dimensions and contrasting textures to add an extra pop to any wardrobe—they are also often inspired by international fashion.
Originally, Soudan got into fashion because of her mother.
“It started when I was young,” she says. “I come from three generations of dressmakers, and when I was nine, my mother taught me how to sew, my first design task was to make my Easter dress.”
For years, Soudan continued sewing, “to me, it was like making art.” Eventually, she studied design abroad in France. One day in France, Soudan witnessed a master shoemaker put together a shoe, causing her to direct her attention from clothing to shoes.
Once making the decision to become a shoe designer, Soudan wanted to offer designs of the highest quality and chose to manufacture her collections in the same factory as the world-renowned design house, Manolo Blahnik—making her the first black shoe designer within the Italian-based factory. When Soudan began, she had a collection of five styles. Now, she has enough styles to fill a store, but she’s doesn’t not stopping there. Soudan plans on opening boutiques across the States and eventually growing into a national brand. Soudan’s hope is to become an inspiration to others, as for them to pursue their dreams.
Designer, Tori Soudan’s final word of wisdom, “If you’re thinking about starting your own label, I would say that it’s important to take some time to really understand your creative expression that you want to project and stay true to it, and just be open and absorb inspiration for your line. And I would say also maybe start small and test the waters, then expand from there.”
Tori Soudan, Tysons Galleria, 2001 International Drive, McLean, VA
Written By: Brianna Gillard