banner-aiHe might be one of the biggest up-and coming shoe designers in the industry right now, but New York-based Alejandro Ingelmo’s love story with footwear goes way back.

By Louis Angot.

His great grandfather was a cobbler in Spain, and his grandfather moved to Cuba, and carried on the tradition by starting a business of men’s wingtips, renowned for the quality of their construction. After Castro’s Cuban revolution, the family fled to Miami, and had to start over a new life.

Alejandro wasn’t interested in the family business and wandered from job to job and from school to school before landing in New York City. After studying interior design at Parsons, he took some shoe design classes and, inevitably, he came back to what seemed to be programmed in his DNA. Without wasting any time, he interned at Donna Karan and, with a renewed love for the business, and soon launched his first women’s shoe collection in the fall of 2006.

Flash-forward to 2014, Ingelmo is now coveted by editors and celebrities who flock to his store in SoHo. Behind each towering stiletto there are hours of meticulous conception and construction. While he stays true to the craftsmanship and traditions of shoemaking, he keeps pushing the envelope and moving forward. It comes as no surprise that he feeds off the creative energy of the Big Apple. “I think it’s always very interesting to see what’s going on around the world, being influenced by technology, being inspired by people. What I do is very ‘now’, or at least my influences come from what’s going on around me.” This mix of tradition and modernity is what Alejandro Ingelmo is all about: a balance between the new and the traditional.

Among his inspirations: art, nature and, most importantly, architecture top the list. He compares his work to architects like Calatrava and Kenneth Koons; the making of a shoe is like the construction of a building. “[You need] a certain understanding of the structure and the weight, and the proportions. Those are the fundamentals of architecture.” The heel becomes a column, on which the foundation of a building needs to stand. He keeps that in mind when he develops shoes, to not only make a woman feel sexy, but to also make her feel comfortable and empowered. Just like the women of Miami, that inspired him in his youth.

An idea can start from a simple shape, then Alejandro works on the lines, the cuts, and details that only him may notice in the end. That’s how a boomerang or a butterfly become a coveted high heel. He even released an ongoing collection of athletic footwear that were inspired by the original Tron movie; the concept initially scared the buyers, but Ingelmo’s talent made it a success.

Strangely, Alejandro’s parents didn’t want him to follow a creative path but looking back at his journey, he keeps the same attitude he always had: “Never regret anything you do in your life.” Sticking to that mantra brought him nominations at CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund and at the Swarovski Award for Accessory Design. With both a men’s, a women’s shoe line, and handbags, Alejandro Ingelmo is on the path to become a household name.

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About The Author

Louis Angot

A second year student in journalism at Concordia University, Louis Angot has been making his way in the Montreal’s fashion scene for over 2 years now. An assistant at Montreal’s Fashion Bureau, he is also a columnist for Spoiler Magazine.

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