Talking Style and Customizable Shoes With Joker's Closet Founder Ashley Ebner
When your brand launched just six months ago and you're already doing collaborative runway work at Paris Fashion Week, you know you're doing something right. Joker's Closet is a new label, specializing in luxury shoes that you can customize and create to make your own unique footwear. CEO and founder Ashley Ebner, talked with JustLuxe about her thoughts on style, her upcoming designer collaboration and what the customization of shoes means to her.
Studying footwear at London College of Fashion set Ebner on a very specific career path. She has always been a lover of attention-grabbing shoes that speak not only to her, but to the women around her. "I grew into a habit of finding unique footwear 'statement pieces' that would catch people's eye and urge them to ask questions. Not because of the brand, rather because of the cool design." Ebner recalls.
With this idea of personal "statement shoes" Ebner decided to launch Joker's Closet with the hopes of being able to give women a way to create their own dream shoes, but with her personal twist. "I developed Joker's Closet to give consumers the ability to co-design fashion-forward footwear using our curated palette on our seasonal designs," she explains. The silhouettes offered for customization are Ebner's style—very cool and on trend.
And while you can't create your own shoe from scratch, that's part of what Ebner hopes set them apart from other customization sites. "We believe the structural design of the footwear should be left to the design team – it should inspire, excite and offer fashion forward designs," she says. There are some limitations with only having designated designs to work with (mainly things like heel height and style constraints), but they're much more fashionable than any other customized footwear we've come across.
We will admit the "play" area of the Joker's Closet website is surprisingly fun. Guests can pick their design and then go into full customization mode, choosing colors and fabrics for their shoe down to the thread. There isn't a plethora of choices, but sometimes an edited palette is better. Pink polka dots, fish skin and zebra patterns are all missing from their fabric selection (trust us, it's for the best). Instead, coral leathers, navy patent leathers and pastel suedes are all available to customize your new shoes. "[We] select and control the color palette each season. This allows the customer to create unique one-of-a-kind footwear through color and texture experimentation, yet still holds true to our original designs," Ebner says.
And maybe it's holding true to her design aesthetic that's making her so successful—allowing customers to customize her fashion rather than create their own. "Customization is part of our everyday culture. Customizing our Starbucks coffee has become an expectation," Ebner explains. "In the fashion industry, many consumers seek something fresh and forward, yet unique to them, therefore using a co-design approach gives consumers the ability to create and wear footwear that no one else has. It also gives them creative power and allows them to be playful in the process."
While the idea of customized shoes isn't new, Joker's Closet seems to be giving women a healthy medium of creation and fashion that other websites are unable to offer. And when we play around with colors and textures on the site, hot new combos seem to pop up out of nowhere. Ebner feels the same, "My favorite creation constantly changes. As you can imagine I'm always seeing different color or texture combinations on our designs, created by our customers. I really love the multi-strap wedge from our FW 13/14 collection in black and cement leather."
And just when you think you've narrowed it down to a set of new silver-leather-pink-suede-multi-strap-chunky-heels—she creates a new collection. Last week during Paris Fashion Week, Joker's Closet presented a 16-piece collaboration with Korean designer and fashion week veteran, Lie Sang Bong. Debuted during his ready-to-wear collection, the shoes will be shown again during Seoul Fashion Week. "Lie Sang Bong is one the most important and inspiring global fashion brands of our time. This collaboration not only offers a new interpretation of Joker's Closet's vision, but changes the way the fashion industry perceives fashion footwear by incorporating co-design and customization," says Ebner. In this collection, Lie Sang Bong has customized and selected the color and textures available for design.
What's best about this brand isn't the ability to create your own crazy-colored palette (though that's fun too), but that it's almost like you can shop for a shoe you love and then start playing around with it. You don't have to work from the ground up. And while we're seriously coveting a pair of "TO" and "HELLO" heels, it's really more the styles than the colors and textures that are pulling us in.
Joker's Closet shoes are available online and are priced from $295-$420.