As a former competitive ballroom dancer and a mom, shoe designer Anyi Lu knows firsthand a woman’s need for “sensible shoes.” But the Tiburon-based footwear designer has made it her mission to create a namesake line that doesn’t sacrifice style for comfort. The 34-year-old Tiburon resident, who also happens to hold a degree in chemical engineering, is best known for her gorgeous yet practical flats and heels. For Lu’s upcoming fall collection, look out for her array of menswear-inspired styles in quilted suede, lace-up booties and silver buckles, oh my!
What made you switch from chemical engineering to shoe design?
Art and design have always been interests of mine. I began to design shoes when I realized there weren’t any high fashion shoes that felt good on the foot. I was determined to provide a beautiful, stylish and wearable alternative to the painful pump. As a busy woman with a very active three year old, I am constantly on the go and cannot afford for my feet to hurt or slow me down. I wear my designs everywhere: to the office, on the playground, on planes, and no matter where I am, I crave style and comfort.
We heard a rumor that your shoes are made of the same material astronauts line their suits with? True?
My shoes are handcrafted in Italy using old world craftsmanship and only the finest materials available. One of those materials is Poron© which was originally developed for use by NASA. It conforms to the foot, maintaining resiliency for impact cushioning—the pressure of the foot is more evenly distributed. As the lightest possible construction material, Poron© reduces foot fatigue and gives the sensation of walking barefoot.
If your shoes could talk, what would they say?
Let’s go dancing!
Who’s the one person you would love to design for?
Clothing designer Vivienne Westwood. I appreciate the attention to detail, beauty and craftsmanship in her designs. I am a big fan.
What tips do you have for women looking for a pair of fashionable yet comfortable heels?
I always recommend shopping in the afternoon when your foot is at its real size—getting fitted properly by the sales staff and of course trying on an Anyi Lu shoe! The “Anyi Lu Fit” collection combines an elastic collar upper with a stitched sock-like bottom. This is known as Sacchetto construction. The fit allows the shoe to conform to the bottom of the foot, thus creating a flexible shoe and essentially hugging the foot.
Can you call one pair of shoes your favorite?
I always favor the collection I’m in the process of designing. I spend so much time with the sketches, the shoes become like family.
What about designing for women north of their ankles?
I am very happy designing shoes.
Find Anyi Lu shoes at Arthur Beren; 222 Stockton St., 415-397-8900 or Nordstrom; 865 Market St., 415-243-8500