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Jamie from Nelson Made: “I Wanted To Breathe Life Back Into The Footwear Industry In Australia”

by: Well Made Clothes Staff | 9 months ago | Features

Image: the Juliette Sandals in Celery.

We’re obsessed with the new collection by Melbourne footwear designer Nelson Made. Rendered in a palette of sea blue, powder pink, and best-selling celery (the green of our dreams), these are the sandals we’re wearing every day now that spring is finally in.

After working in the footwear industry for years, Nelson Made designer, Jamie, launched her label to do things her own way. This includes crafting all Nelson Made flat sandals herself, in her Melbourne studio, and crafting all Nelson Made heeled sandals in a factory in China Jamie has worked with for years. This means 80% of Nelson Made footwear is locally handcrafted in Melbourne, and the label is committed to making this 100% by 2021.

In celebration of the new collection by Nelson Made, we caught up with Jamie, to discuss her experience in the footwear industry and what inspires her.

Well Made Clothes: You have a storied history working in footwear design. Can you walk (lol) us through this?
Jamie Nelson
: I started out hand making for local footwear atelier Preston Zly, where I learned the craft of bespoke making in a small studio. I then received an Ian Potter grant to study a Masters in Fashion Footwear at Cordwainers, London College of Fashion. Returning back to Australia I worked as the footwear (and bag) designer for Country Road and then for Gorman and Kmart. Each of these roles taught me so much.

Well Made Clothes: What made you decide to launch your own footwear label?
Jamie: I had been designing footwear for some of the best retailers in Australia - my dream job! But the longer I worked in the industry, the more uncomfortable I felt watching the overconsumption and wastefulness inherent in fashion. It didn’t align with my personal values (of respect for people and the planet), so I decided to dig deep and create a brand with a responsible model.

Image: the Sonia Sandals in Sea Foam.

Well Made Clothes: Speaking to you off the record it was interesting discussing how the way in which you wanted to produce – making small quantities yourself in Melbourne – determined the kind of footwear you could design. Can you walk us through that?
Jamie: We are committed to creating shoes locally with a low environmental impact, so our research and development process starts with this in mind.

Making footwear by hand is a laborious job, with many components and processes involved. We knew we wanted to make in Melbourne, but we also wanted to bring accessible prices to the market, so we decided on sandals that are relatively easy to assemble compared to boots and loafers that are more labour intensive.

We design sandals that are simple to construct, so we can put them together relatively easily in the Melbourne studio, we focus on attention to detail and materials rather than bells and whistles that take a large amount of work to produce. This forms the basis of everything we design.

Image: the Juliette Sandal in Black Croc.

Well Made Clothes: Why was it important to you to make by hand in Melbourne?
Jamie: I am a maker at heart, and am happiest when I’m in the studio, with my hands busy and my mind free to roam. I also wanted to breathe life back into the footwear industry in Australia, which used to be so strong. I know many talented machinists and pattern cutters, clickers and makers who have so much knowledge that will go with them when they retire - this is such a waste of knowledge - I want to support what small industry there is left.

Well Made Clothes: What aesthetic considerations underpin Nelson Made as a label?
Jamie: We design well considered pieces that are modern and wearable. There is a simplicity and attention to detail that underpins our collections. The pieces are classics and are designed to live on well past their season in your wardrobe.

Well Made Clothes: Which footwear designers are you inspired by?
Jamie: Jacquemus, Mari Giudicelli, MNZ.

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