I first learned of luxury unisex shoe wear label March NYC while darting from show to show during New York Fashion Week. As snow piled high along the streets, looking effortless and street-style-cool was well- a real effort. I happened to look down and see the most gorgeous calf hair black and white speckled boots on Tamu’s feet. Without thinking, I blurted, “Who made these boots and where can I get them?”
It was less than a week later that I found myself sitting down with menswear design Guru Simon Spurr at a quaint coffee shop in the west village talking all things March NYC.
Where did the name inspiration for March NYC come from?
I wanted a strong name that conjured an image of what the product might be/look like. Having referenced a vast amount of uniform over my 20 years as a menswear designer, I was drawn to the strength, precision and cohesiveness of the word MARCH. The ‘NYC’, despite being based in New York, actually represents ‘New Youth Culture’, something that in this political climate is on rise.
Since inception I’ve also wanted to have a humanitarian angle to the brand (to give back), and so eventually the brand will connect with humanitarian organizations, engage with the consumer and give them the opportunity to support campaigns such as MARCH 4 Peace, MARCH 4 the Environment etc.
When did you know that you wanted to become part of the fashion industry, did you always want to become a designer?
Actually, my introduction to the fashion industry was a mixture of serendipity and luck. I’ve always been attracted to the arts (especially modern artists like Richard Serra, Sol Lewitt, Robert Mangold), and luckily I’ve had a few strong teachers in my past that encouraged me to draw, and eventually go into fashion.
I was part of a very strong year at Middlesex University, London, graduating in 1996; and have been in the industry ever since.
The past 20 years has been a rollercoaster of hard work late nights and passion, but I feel extremely blessed to have worked directly with the likes of Hedi Slimane, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.
Coming from a background designing menswear why did you want to design a unisex shoe line?
When I started my old namesake brand back in 1995, I started with 3 pairs of jeans and grew the business to its pinnacle point of being nominated for CFDA men’s designer of the year 2011 and 2012. I knew, when launching my 2nd brand that I again wanted to start with a pure concept and limited product offering. Wearing all black 99% of the time, I have become know in my circles for expressing myself through my choice of footwear; so what better place to start than with a considered and unique offering of unisex boots.
Focusing again on one product category and executing it to the highest quality was also important to me. I’ve dressed many leading men over the years, now I have something to offer the leading ladies on their arm (or should I say on their feet).
If you could describe the aesthetic of the brand in three words what would they be?
Quality. Confident. Protagonist.
Now in the age of social media, how important do you feel it is to create strong brand identity when starting up a new line?
Branding is paramount. It’s no longer enough to produce quality product, and hope that people will find the brand. Strong social media presence, customer-design participation, and keen market awareness all now contribute heavily to a brand’s success.
The aesthetic of my initial social media launch is targeted towards people that connect and aspire to musician’s like Jamie Hince from The Kills, whose life and career partly embody the proud and confident spirit of the brand.
You’ve currently released two core styles for the collection, any plans to expand into some seasonal styles?
Yes. As I mentioned, the limited, initial offering was a premeditated strategy, but I do plan on expanding it to include seasonal options, and also a vintage apparel concept where the customer can participate in the design process. Naturally, coming from a menswear background, the nature of the designs may tend to be more masculine, however, I feel that this is a gap in the women’s market that is currently underserved.
What advice would you share with someone wanting to begin working in the industry?
Some of the best advice I was given in my solo career, and that I would like to pay forward, was to stay true to your brand’s DNA. If that’s the way you dress, or an aesthetic you like, test the market in a considered way, hold true to your ideals and ultimately stand for something you believe in.
Take us through your design process. Where do you find your inspiration, source materials, etc…
Inspiration can come in many forms, from the obvious place or the most abstract situation. I could be on the treadmill at the gym and see someone walking on the street with great style, or be influenced by a piece of art or fabric. Having social context is important though. Understanding what people want to wear (at all levels) and how they wear things is also an important consideration. I’ve always promoted individualism, and to wear what makes you feel comfortable or at your best.
Of course, like any industry, there are the typical routes of sourcing fabric from textile fairs like Premier Vision, and also calendar restraints on getting thing made on time to hit certain deadlines. But I’m fortunate enough to love what I do, so what may be a job to some, is an extension of my passion to me.
What do you think people should look for when investing in a luxury shoe?
Naturally, it depends on the customer’s aesthetic.
Personally, I have always chosen to make product of the highest standard, supporting craftsmanship that would otherwise diminish and be lost for future generations. But simultaneously, I’ve always tried to offer the customer the best value for that product, often financially positioning my product underneath that of the designer brands, despite knowing it’s made at a higher quality level.
But more specifically, with regards to the actual product, it’s important to look for a shoe with a stitched sole (vs cemented which is basically glued on), and that has a full, leather heel (vs a hollow, plastic heel) to soften your stride and absorb impact. As generation Y looks to buy product with greater resale value, having a product that lasts could now be a welcomed and fast growing factor in determining which brand to purchase.
If you had one tip on how to live a more stylish life what would it be?
I’ve always believed that immersing yourself in other disciplines, such as art, architecture, furniture and interiors makes for a more, well rounded aesthetic in life. Broadening your influences, and exposing yourself to other experiences, feeds the soul and makes for a more stylish life.
To see all of Simon’s gorgeous line check out the images below.