grounded: stilettos get the boot with yosi samra's signature foldable flats

April 2015
grounded: stilettos get the boot with yosi samra's signature foldable flats

By Rachel Watkins

Yosi Samra is a sole whisperer. Literally. The soft-spoken designer’s collection of signature fold-up ballet flats has rescued many stiletto-weary strutters from the treacherous six-inch spike. He’s even converted the most stringent high-heel worshipers (ourselves included) – those who swear up and down by the virtue of fashion’s most notorious shoe, to ultimately put their feet firmly back on the ground.

An innovator of the elastic-top, foldable ballet flat, Samra designed his version at the ripe age of 22. Several years later in 2009, he formally launched his collection online, immediately attracting fans globally and a cult celebrity following. What started as a mere accessory to soothe weary feet at the end of a long day — or after too many hours on the dance floor, quickly became a staple shoe to wear from sun-up until sun-down.

From color-block patent leathers and lizard-embossed suede, to ostrich, croc, velvet and more, the options are chic—and endless. But when the ballet flat just won’t do, his sandals, shoes, and boots are equally impressive. Naturally, the innovative designer even has a bridal collection in the works entitled Hitched by Yosi Samra, launching in mid-April. The newest in the Samra collection will feature comfy-luxe foldable flats for the bride, bridesmaids, and flower girls. Every pair has “something blue” with special accent lining and yes, the motto forging the collection is “to have and to fold.”

As for the fellas, there may be some shoes in their future, too. Samra developed a men’s collection designed and ready to debut, but is waiting for just the right time to unveil. After all, he’s been a tad busy (insert sarcasm here), now with more than 1,000 stockists across the United States and 85 additional countries, along with 15 storefronts in Asia and the Middle East.

Samra certainly has plenty on the horizon, but he’s also currently pausing his jet-setting schedule for his “best and most important” project ever: fatherhood. Daughter Sadie is a newborn and seven pounds of scrumptiousness. And dad, has already mastered the art of changing diapers. Just in case you may be wondering, of course Sadie already has a few micro-mini pairs of Yosi Samra ballet flats to her name.

While the Dallas-based designer was making the rounds at FIG’s Fall1 Market with his own statement accessory, his fur-ball of a pomeranian Dexter — we pulled him (and Dexter) away from the fashionable flurry to chat for a few minutes and to get the ultimate in designer scoop.

DFW Style Daily: Of all the things you could design, why shoes?
Yosi Samra: “I grew up in my father’s shoemaking factory in New York City, constantly surrounded by evening and bridal shoes. From the age of 7, I was stocking shoes and by 16, I was running my dad’s warehouse—managing the shipping and receiving department, production, and more. I went to college in Arizona, played the drums, and started my own nightlife promotion company, but soon I returned to NYC and the shoe business to help my family.”

Why the foldable flat? 
“When I returned to New York after college, I was working with my dad during the day but continued to work in nightlife promotion after hours. I saw so many girls walking home barefoot, carrying their high heels, and that was my inspiration. I wanted them to have a good shoe to wear at the end of the night.”

How did you elevate the standard ballet flat to a cutting-edge fashion staple? 
“We invest in top-quality leathers from Argentina, which provide a luxurious look while offering good value for our accessible price point. Our designs are durable yet they feature unique details and textures. I launched the collection in 2009 with four colors; now, we have hundreds of different styles. Girls will tell me that they hate flats, but once they try on a pair, they understand. Our shoes mold to the foot and are both comfortable and chic.”

You have racked up quite a celebrity following. Who was the first star to wear your flats? 
“I think it might have been January Jones—then word quickly spread. Miranda Lambert doesn’t always like to wear heels on the red carpet, so we’ve designed custom Swarovski versions for her. Both Sarah Jessica Parker and Jessica Alba’s [respective] kids are even wearing our children’s collection now.”

What else is in store? 
“Well, I’m very excited by Hitched, as it brings me full circle to where I started in the bridal world with my father’s shoe business. We are also working on our first U.S. storefront, likely in Las Vegas. But, what I really love, is to continue evolving the ballet flat. The Resort 2015 and Spring 2016 collections will be very fresh and textural; we are working with interesting materials like mesh, denim, and raffia, along with iridescents, dimensional details, and printed leathers.”

We’ll take one of each, please.

Yosi Samra is available at L. BartlettLou LouPlanet BardotStanley KorshakSt. Bernard Sports, and The Biz, and at Images used courtesy of Yosi Samra. - Thursday, April 2, 2015