Jess Blanch, STYLE.COM
It’s always nice to see the face of an old friend during the hustle of Paris fashion week, and this time I was blessed to catch the now-L.A.-based Australian Emily Cooper fresh off the plane and in town for sales appointments for her handcrafted-footwear label, Meandher.
It seems like just the other day when Cooper announced she was moving to Italy to attend school at Milan’s prestigious Ars Sutoria, a decision to take the men’s brand she started in 2010—boasting a twist on the classic brogue—to the next level. “I went from producing really good quality in Vietnam to going and learning everything about shoe construction, quality, material, and just that whole European—and in particular, Italian—touch,” she says. “Now, I go into the factories in Portugal and Italy where we produce, and I follow them around the production line. We speak different languages, but we get there in the end.”
Prior to this, she’d had no formal training in footwear but a very memorable stint distributing espadrilles—Applegators—spurred by a holiday in South America. That summer in Sydney, they were all over our beaches, an early sign that she’s always had an innate sense for taking a classic and making it feel of the new and next.
Things have come a long way since then, however, recently branching her label out into womenswear, which she calls a “whole new beast,” and announcing a partnership with the iconic brand Equipment. “We held our first-ever press event and trunk show during fashion week in New York, in Equipment’s Soho store,” she says. “They will be stocking us in their New York and L.A. stores.”
Her first womenswear campaign, with her “mate” Poppy Delevingne as the face, is just about to launch. “We were at a dinner and I was trying to work out how to launch womenswear and asking for advice, and Poppy was making all these suggestions and then was like, ‘Well, I’d do it, but I’m not cool enough,’ and I was like, ‘Are you kidding? Would you really do it? Can you do it next weekend?’ And so she did.”
With plans to expand past the brogue and penny loafer, and with dreams of her own stores, Cooper says her ethos is always to keep it simple. “There are so many brogues out there, so refining that silhouette to make it feminine—the perfect round between a point and a round—that’s what I focus on,” she says. “We just did our first boot this season but [are] still keeping [it] within that whole androgynous vibe and still very classic. We will continue to play with color and material rather than playing with the shape.”