WHO IS KENDALL REYNOLDS?
If she’s not on your radar by now, allow Row A Seat 1 to escort you to all of the fabulousness behind the KENDALL MILES DESIGNS brand. At 22. the ‘Millennipreneur’ shoe designer started her business during her junior/senior year while studying at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
Although the genesis of the company stemmed from a bad breakup, eventually it became a beautiful nightmare as Kendall allowed her creative sketches to phoenix into a major win… Voila, a brand is born! And some of the sexiest, artistic high heels were designed in the process placing Kendall and her brand at the top of the ‘Trendsetter’ list from IKRAM, Vogue to Black Enterprise, and now Row A Seat 1.
Many reports and research upon ‘Millennial behavior’ speak of the average Millennial being “self-absorbed and lack work ethic,” but Kendall doesn’t share those traits. In fact, upon asking her mother to help her build her brand, Kendall took that extra step and attended Ars Sutoria, a world-leading fashion school in Milan, Italy, ‘where she learned the technical development methods for shoes, from design to construction. This has allowed her the specialized knowledge necessary to combine avant-garde construction methods while maintaining a timeless, classic look.’
DID I FORGET TO MENTION SHE’S FROM THE SOUTHSIDE OF CHICAGO?
This made the 20-minute phone interview with Kendall that much sweeter with a lot of laughter. It’s always exciting to see a fellow native breaking through the fashion industry and adding some Chicago flavor to it.
Check out the full feature below as Kendall shares her journey while slaying the streets in her Kendall Miles Designs stilettos.
Row A Seat 1: When did you fall in love with fashion?
Kendall Miles of Kendall Miles Designs: I think I fell in love with shoes first, my love is for shoes one-hundred percent. It’s something I grew up in because my mom had this really fabulous shoe closet. So by the time I was about 8-years-old, she couldn’t get me out of her closet and she hated it. (Laughs) My foot grew big really young and my foot size is a full size bigger than my mom’s size. So I was a size 10/11 trying to squeeze my feet in her shoes, stretching her shoes out and she was so mad, but I couldn’t help it because I always loved shoes. They have to be super high heels and super sexy!
Row A Seat 1: How did Kendall Miles Designs start?
Kendall: It all stemmed from a bad breakup, I was in LA for school at USC and my former boyfriend from high school moved there to study as well, but at different schools. When we broke up it was really tough for me because I didn’t have any connections to anything else except him and it was both scary and sad.
Through the heartbreak, I decided to channel that energy into doing something creative. That’s when I began sketching shoes which helped me cope, I started seeing my growth and that I had real ideas for shoe designs. During my mom’s next visit I pulled together all of my designs and I told her I wanted to start a business, I want to be a shoe designer and I need you to help me build a business around my designs. She likes the designs, but her focus was more on school, but I stuck with it and I completed school on time while building my dream, which I started during junior year (2015).
Row A Seat 1: After USC, then Milan, Italy… How was that experience?
Kendall: When I realized this is really what I wanted to do, the summer between my junior/senior year I enrolled in this program at an accessories design university in Milan. I went out there and took a 3-week crash course and learned about the technical aspects of footwear, history of footwear, pattern-making, sketching. It was a really intense class, it was 9-to-5; five days a week.
The experience wasn’t all that great. My professor at the time didn’t see much potential in me as a designer; I guess because my sketches were more artistic than technical and I guess she saw it as a negative. But, sketching is hard and I’m constantly practicing my sketching, it’s something I’ll always strive to get better at, and the program was my confirmation that this is exactly what I wanted to do.
Row A Seat 1: For you, which three designers are the epitome of footwear designs? What makes these three so unique?
Kendall: Manolo Blahnik is always number one for me. Number two for me would be Tom Ford, YES! And, Sergio Rossi would be number three.
For me, these three designers have always been consistent with their designs. It’s really important that designers have their own point of view instead of chasing or trying to create trends, and this is what we’re seeing at the huge fashion houses like Gucci, Prada, and Valentino. They’re constantly trying to chase the trend or get ahead of the trend that the artistry of the actual design process is lost. These are my top three because they’re constantly being creative, constantly introducing new innovative technology and their designs are always on point.
Row A Seat 1: One word: IKRAM. Talk about a major key…
Kendall: YES! (With a laugh) Ikram is definitely a character. However, I’m so appreciative and grateful that she believed in me and saw potential in my design ability and my brand. I’m so humbled by her support and I’m going to do everything that I can to make her proud; I’m going to do everything that I can to get more sales at her store… I’m so grateful to have her on my team!
Row A Seat 1: With Fashion Week upon us, any info of inspiration on the KMD SS17 Collection?
Kendall: Spring is still in production in Italy as of now, but delivery is set for the first week in March. The SS17 collection is inspired by Ancient Egyptian culture. In a nutshell, it’s a minimal silhouette, very simple and the shoes are adorned with amazing jewels and real stones like turquoise stone, tiger’s eye, black onyx, and Swarovski crystals. It’s so beautiful it looks like shoe jewelry; it definitely resembles the essence of Ancient Egypt!
PSST… I have a few sneak peek images from the KMD SS17 Collection…
Row A Seat 1: How has the support of KMD been, thus far?
Kendall: We have been getting so much support across the board; we’ve met with Vogue twice already. We’re laying the groundwork and getting the ball rolling. A lot of people are catching on and we’re getting a lot of support and it feels really good.
Row A Seat 1: Before you go, can you give some helpful tips on breaking into the shoe design industry?
Kendall: I would say sketch a lot, study the Greats, study vintage (vintage designs from the 1940s and 1950s), learn the technology, learn what’s going on in Italy because there’s so much going on there, there’s so much you can do with technology as far as treating leather, manipulating leather, applying embellishments, laser cutting or high frequency. There are so many options to play with. Most importantly, do what you say you’re going to do.
Row A Seat 1: Which KMD shoe is your absolute favorite as of now?
Kendall: It would have to be the Masque (Red). It’s amazing, it’s a showstopper and everywhere I go wearing that shoe women are literally falling at my feet asking me where did I get them!