Always on the lookout for fun and interesting designers, one footwear brand in particular caught our eye. We were introduced to ELIA, a wholly Egyptian-made brand of shoes worthy of every style. Wanting to know more about the designer behind the brand, we contacted ELIA and got in touch with Egyptian shoe designer Amira Motawea. Barely two years-old, ELIA started in 2015 when Amira sought out a way to exhibit her love of shoes. Known for its gender blurring flair, ELIA footwear creates shoes for the modern woman – “Think Chelsea boots and cut-out Brogues,” Amira begins. As the sole designer at ELIA, Amira combines her deep-rooted passion for footwear with her own sense of style to create truly unique pieces.
Her background in business and marketing helped her shape and launch her brand, positioning ELIA to capture peoples’ minds with designs that are both functional and beautiful. Amira’s time at Fustany [the lifestyle and fashion portal for Arab women] helped her in her newfound career, “As [their] Business Developer, I gained insight into the industry in terms of trends and what appeals to the audience.”
“I am obsessed with shoes! I’ve always had this way of restyling my shoes either by coloring them in or adding bits of jewelry to make them unique,” Amira elaborates. “I started by visiting small workshops all around Egypt and I managed to get an apprenticeship at one to learn more about how shoes are made.” Taking pride in using mostly Egyptian materials and working only with Egyptian artisans to create her shoes, Amira considers her process as a way to help the local fashion industry flourish. Amira picked up on every little detail at her apprenticeship until she felt she was ready to branch out and make her own designs. Amira went on to find a local factory that would provide her with the quality she desires for her shoe line, and embarked on learning the basics of sketching online.
Feeling like she’s got a grasp on the skills needed and having found what she was looking for, Amira created her very first sandal which she lovingly dubbed the Pharaonic Sandal. “I wanted to design a pair of shoes that tells a story about Egypt,” Amira explains. “[Historically], the very first pair of shoes designed in Egypt were leather sandals. So I decided to make that my starting point and created a simple sandal using genuine leather, combining both comfort with modern style.” Amira chose the name ELIA ‘إليَّ’ [which translates to ‘Mine’] to give it a more personal feel. As for her designs, “[they] tell a story about ancient Egypt through its culture, streets, architecture and history.”
Does fashion ‘make’ the person or does the person ‘make’ fashion?
What you wear is a reflection of who you really are; the way you carry yourself says a lot about your personality and style – so yes the person ‘makes’ the fashion.
In your opinion, what makes footwear statement pieces? Why?
An eye-catching shoe – is what every woman looks for! A statement shoe is all about what you add to the shoe which makes it a little unexpected. It can be the leather, the fabric, the color or even the cut. I believe shoes can take your outfit to a completely new level; you just need to know how to style it.
How would you describe your style and what inspires it?
I would say, it is laidback with a bohemian twist. I get inspired by culture, people, and places. I love to discover new places and get to know new faces. The different ways people carry themselves, the colors they wear, and the different textures all say a lot about their unique cultures. This is what I love the most, simply exploring the way people embrace such elements in the streets.
What makes footwear important?
Shoes are a necessity across all cultures. It completes your overall look.
What makes them special?
A shoe is special because you can immediately feel a personal connection with it. It is this connection that makes you stand out.
Is there such thing as the essential every-day piece and what qualities would it have?
My every-day piece of advice would be, if you are going to wear the shoes, you are going to have to be able to bear walking in them. Pick a shoe that makes you feel good and comfortable with a unique design, whether they are a pair of flats, heels or boots.
What do you think is the one piece that every fashion lover should own? Why?
A custom-made pair of shoes, it is personal.
Who from the fashion world would you love to collaborate with?
I would love to collaborate with Sophia Webster, Manolo Blahnik, Brian Atwood and Paula Cademartori.
What does it take to become a style innovator?
It is in the smallest of details! You have to be open to anything, committed and continuously learning.
What is exciting right now in fashion?
How quickly it changes.
Who or what has been your greatest fashion influence?
My fashion influence is anything that is artistic, authentic and has an identity.
Who are your favorite emerging designers, and what do you love about them?
I love Sarah’s bags, Bambah and Jude Benhalim – their pieces are unique and creative.
What is the highlight of your ‘style’ career so far?
Authentic with a modern twist.
Every fashionality has as a style obsession, what’s yours?
Shoes have always been my obsession.
Do you follow any fashion influencers? If so, who are they and which would you recommend?
Dalia Nsouli for her unusual styling ideas, Stuart Weitzman for his beautiful detailed designs, and Olivia Palermo and Jessica Alba for their super creative mixing and matching of styles and colors.
What item of clothing or accessory (if any) do you wish that people wore more often?
A statement piece either (scarves, accessories, shoes, clothing or bags).
To be stylish is to be fashionable. True or False and why?
False: You can be stylish but not necessarily fashionable, you just need to wear what suits you and that is how you will have your very own style.
You can get any of ELIA’s fabulous designs anywhere in the world! For more information, email Amira at email@example.com and make sure you follow ELIA on Facebook: ELIA.Egypt and on Instagram @ELIA_Eg for updates!