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Noah Waxman studied the sciences in college, but another subject always intrigued him more: shoes.
Now the newly minted designer plans to enter the footwear industry with his eponymous women's and men's label for fall '13. The women's offering centers on pumps, flats, boots and oxfords in clean silhouettes with vibrant pops of color and texture, while the men's chukkas and oxfords feature tooled leathers and contrasting hues. Most of the shoes are priced from $450 to $1,250.
"I like things that feel different, but at the same time very wearable," the New York-based designer said. "I never like to create something that feels kooky."
Waxman said he was born to create footwear — it just took a trip to The Netherlands for him to realize it. He was living in Amsterdam after college when he saw a handmade shoe in the window of a home. He eventually sought out the maker of that shoe, who in turn introduced him to craftsmen in the city of Utrecht.
"It was an unofficial school," Waxman explained, noting that he spent four years in Utrecht studying everything from leather cutting to last construction. "It was a group of people learning shoemaking for different reasons. That was the first time in my life where I was working with my hands in a really connected way and not just staring at a computer."
The endeavor also rekindled Waxman's childhood love of shoes.
"I remember growing up and being very focused on shoes — like what my mother had — and they just made me happy," he said, recalling that he also sketched footwear in his free time while growing up in Bucks County, Pa., and New York. "My grandfather was from Romania and he was a furniture maker. Shoes are similar in that they balance design and function. [Creating my own footwear line] was something I always wanted to do, but it was sort of latent. It took being in a different world and a different place to realize how much it meant to me."
The designer brought his skills back stateside. His line is handmade in California with materials from the U.S. and Europe.
Waxman has been showing the fall '13 collection to buyers and will display select styles at the MRket men's trade show in New York in July, but the full men's and women's lines will debut for spring '14 during FN Platform in August. Other plans on the horizon include bowing branded e-commerce and eventually branching out to handbags and small leather goods.
Noah Waxman studied psychology and biology at Washington University and New York University before moving to Amsterdam, where he lived for a decade and studied traditional shoemaking for four years.
With a mix of European and U.S. influences, nostalgia and newness both play into the aesthetic of Noah Waxman footwear."That mix of cultures and that rub of foreign and home is a [driving force behind] my shoes," the designer said. "[I combine] things that feel familiar with things that feel foreign and different."
Canadian boutiques Eugene Choo and The Block Clothing Co., both in Vancouver, British Columbia, have picked up the line for fall '13.