The Vendeur Profile: Maxine Wille
How does one go about making a killer high heel consciously? It’s a highly charged question with a lot of answers. We sat down with Maxine Wille of Maxine Shoes to discuss strong women and making ethical choices in the luxury accessories industry.
We don’t know about you, but we are firm believers in the power of a seriously fabulous shoe to finish off any outfit. That said, where do you go when you want to respect your ethics too? This was the question Maxine Wille asked herself when she set about creating her namesake shoe label in 2017. ‘Finding extraordinary and responsibly made shoes was almost impossible,’ she remembers, ‘that’s why I started the brand.’
How it all began
Inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of her Grandmother and Mother, Maxine set about filling a gap in the market. Her eclectic designs start life in her London studio, inspired by her love of pop culture and street art. The shoes are crafted with an ethical sensibility in Italy. ‘From day one the brand DNA has been about humour and honesty’ she confirms. On meeting Maxine you can see why. Always smiling, she has an infectious passion for creating beautiful shoes. They’ll carry you through work and on to playtime! Hence the popcorn prints and smiley emoji faces that have become classic styles. You can’t help but smile when wearing them. As an added bonus they are very comfortable… well they were designed by a woman, go figure!
Every decision Maxine makes has a clear intention. The factories where her shoes are made are integral to the essence of the brand. Based in the Marche region of Italy, they are family owned and run, using techniques perfected over time. Maxine worked tirelessly to find creators that share her passion for artisan craftsmanship. For this reason she believes it’s important that the shoes are created in a sustainable environment. She wanted to empower the people who create the shoes as much as the women who wear them. ‘Most engineers have learnt their craft from family members which makes it a very familial experience,’ she explained. Supporting local businesses and crafts people was an obvious choice for her.
“Finding extraordinary, responsibly made shoes was almost impossible, which is why I started the brand.’ – Maxine Wille
Responsible production is hard to come by
Within the production process nothing is left to chance she explains. The careful cutting of the leather hides mean waste is minimal, and only the pieces that will be used are printed on to. Therefore they save more materials and energy than average shoe manufacturers. The leather is also dyed without using chromium, something Maxine was adamant about from the start. ‘Knowing that there is at least one harmful component in the process that can be substituted is a good start, chromium is persistent and will never leave the environment.’
Not only is Maxine Shoes about inspiring strong, independent minded ladies, but its creator is on a mission to change consumer attitudes towards luxury products too. ‘Sustainability and luxurious goods go hand in hand. I still encounter so many customers who are unaware. It’s not easy to communicate that design is just as important as the responsibility the brand carries.’
Maxine’s shoes aren’t just responsibly made, they’re an important talking point. For those of us that love to express ourselves through our sartorial choices, wearing a pair of her shoes is the perfect way to start more conversations about how sassy sustainable footwear is the future.