We all know a brand that makes our heart skip a beat, but we tend to forget there is someone special - someone that works very hard and that barely sleeps in order to give you the shoes of your dreams. Today we are meeting with Anita Da Silva that brought back to life a legendary footwear company, Bass Shoes.
KZ- Where are you from and what are your studies
Anita- I was born in Montreal from Portuguese parents. After one year at University studying Sociology, I
realized that it wasn’t for me. It’s actually my best friend who said: “Why don’t you go study in fashion
design”. Even though I would spend days reading all the fashion magazines (Vogue, Bazaar, etc.), I needed
someone to make me realize it. So I finally decided to study in Fashion Design at LaSalle College.
KZ- Was footwear always a passion or you discovered it throughout the years.
Anita- I always had a passion for shoes, when I was younger most of my money went to buy designer shoes. I was working two jobs and one of them was in a great shoe store just to get the discount to afford my favorite
designer shoes. I never thought of being a shoe designer, in school it was more concentrated on clothing.
After graduating my first job was shoe designer for a footwear company… and the rest is history.
KZ- You have now been designing for Bass for the last 5 years. What was the biggest challenge when you first
Anita- The biggest challenge was to get the customer to remember how cool Bass used to be. I wanted people to remember Bass for their great history and heritage. There are not a lot of true American brands that goes
back as far as 1876. I decided to start building the line on their classics and reinventing them to today’s
market. I also brought back the vintage Bass logo and adding “since 1876” on all labels, emphasizing the
KZ- In terms of sources of inspiration, does it exclusively come from footwear design or from other areas as well?
Anita- One of my biggest inspirations is going to flea markets all over the world and finding great Bass vintage
samples. Traveling is a great source of inspiration for me; Cities like London, Tokyo, Paris, Stockholm and
LA just to name of few are very inspiring for the people’s unique sense of style. I always love to people
watch and see what they’re wearing but most importantly how they interpret trends.
KZ- 5 spots to visit when travelling in order to feel inspired by trendsetters.
1- Les Marais in Paris is one of my favorite spots to shop, especially the little streets. They just open an
ACNE store, which is so creative. Cafe Charlot is my favorite place to stop for a coffee while revising my
notes from my trip and sketch some ideas.
2- East End in London is where I get really inspired, from the people to the music scene or the street art,
I find it’s where most of the trends start. Before heading back to the Soho hotel (my favorite), I sometime
stop at this local pub called The Owl & Pussycat or have a great pizza at Pizza East Shoreditch.
3- Portabello Market is also one of my favorite spots in London. The vintage clothing area is a great spot
to find unique vintage shoes or clothing. I bought one of my favorite fur coats there.
4- Rosebowl Flea Market in Pasadena is probably on the top of my list. It’s great for getting a good idea
of the upcoming trends. I often take great street shots of people there for my blog (shoedogs.tumblr.com).
On our way from Rosebowl, I always stop at Cliff’s Edge Café to grab a bite from a long day of shopping.
5- Hong Kong is also a great city, it’s timeless you have the most futuristic architecture next to the oldest
apartment buildings, probably one of the most inspiring city. Of course you have the best shopping malls,
but my best experience is shopping in the little streets where the local people shop. From Mong Kok to the
little streets of Tsim Sha Tsui, that’s where you get the most unique finds.
KZ- What are the top three essential shoes that you own
Anita- Some wedge sandals from Isabel Marant, my Bass gold Weejun’s and my Bass Creepers (not in stores yet): I have 3 versions of them, with gems, pony leopard and with a flower print… I’m obsessed with them!
KZ- Working with China or working with European factories?
Anita- I work with China and El Salvador. El Salvador does all our Weejuns moccasins, it’s an amazing factory,
like the way they use to make shoes in Italy. Like many brands, China also does a lot of our shoes. Today
China has amazing technicians that build shoes and we see a lot of Italians in China opening factories and
training the Chinese. In fact, China is getting so good at making shoes that the prices keep getting higher
every season. Some companies are already starting to develop their shoes in other countries.
KZ- I know you used to work for Aldo in Canada. What is the challenge working for a retailer compared to a
Anita- When you work for a retailer you have a quick reading of the sales through, the customers are telling you
every week what they like and don’t like. It’s easier to turn around and markdown a style or make a quick
test for next season. Working for a wholesale brand you need to work one year ahead so you kind of need
to be able to see the upcoming trends a year in advance and convince your buyer/salesmen that this is
what’s coming. So it’s important to believe in what you do and why you did it.
KZ- Living in New York is in itself a great source of inspiration. Where is the best spot to people watch while sipping a morning latte?
Anita- The East Village where I live is my favorite area. Peels café is a perfect place to people watch for a quick
local café, I love Ost Café, which is two blocks from my apartment.
I also like to go to Café Cluny in the West Village on the weekends, it’s a great place to hangout on a
KZ- Where do you see yourself in the next five years
Anita- Having my shoe line with Danilo who is my amazing husband and also a shoe designer. We are two very
creative people who share the same passion for fashion & footwear. We have been working together for a
very long time now and having our shoe line would definitely be our dream come true.
KZ- You mentioned you have a blog
Anita- Yes, I have a blog with Danilo called ShoeDogs at: http://shoedogs.tumblr.com/.
It’s pretty much something that we do in our spare time. As I mentioned before Danilo and I share the same
passion for fashion & footwear. We enjoy taking pictures of inspiring people when we travel, my favorite
outfits or just post a picture of the new catwalk from one of our favorite designers. We enjoy doing it.