In the early 17th century Charles Perrault wrote a story about a pair of shoes that transformed the life of fairy-tale princess Cinderella. While many might swoon over prince charming, others wish a fairy godmother would create them their own signature glass slippers.
Ali Aboutera has created the answer to fairy-tale shoe wishes of all kinds. The Egyptian entrepreneur, with the help of his cousin, turns intricate fashion dreams into tailor-made pairs of heels. His brand, Misura, is a concept that started from Aboutera spending late afternoons watching his father manage his renowned leather-goods store.
“I come from a shoe-making background. My family owns a specialised store, where many clients often asked for custom-made shoes for special events and weddings. Given their specialty in ready to wear shoes, they always had to turn those clients away,” said Aboutera.
Those frequent denied requests inspired him to start a new line specialised in turning any shoes-related idea into reality. Misura offers the ultimate personalisation service with customised shoes, as well as a smaller section that offers ready-for-purchase designs.
According to Aboutera, when the idea first popped into his head, his cousin, Omar, was the very first person he considered as a partner due to his extended experience in the same industry. It was not long after conducting extended research on the market, that his childhood dreams turned into tangible plans.
“When we first started our research, many indicators supported our initial assumption that the market lacked a tailored shoe label. Meanwhile, when shoes were available, quality was always a major concern. A large segment of our target audience faced issues such as having to settle for covering ready-made shoes with different fabrics or having to fill other pairs with pads to make them fit,” said Aboutera.
According to market research, many women are excited by the idea of designing their own shoes. Based on the brand’s early months of experience, the team agreed, saying that their customers don’t glance twice at the ready- to- wear designs once they hear about the possibility of creating their own shoe design.
Aboutera observes the traffic walking through the welcoming glass doors, as the customers interact with the team and eye the high heels on display. He inspects each client go through this process and announces with certainty what style each woman wants, that suits their unique identity. Many customers surprise the designer with new requests,
Misura comes from the Italian expression ‘De Facto Si Misura’, which translates to ‘made to measure.’ Day and night, clients divulge their personalities and daily routines to Aboutera, in the quest for a fashion-forward interpretation of their desired footwear. Even though fashion trends glorify unified styles, Misura is an Egyptian window for personal individuality.
Misura provides various levels of personalisation. Some clients ask for a few alterations on pre-existing designs, by choosing different material or adding an accessory, while others ask for more radical requests.
“Some clients prefer working with our designer on completely new designs. In this case, she starts by sitting with Omar, our lead designer, in order to discuss what she has in mind and start sketching. Then they choose together the heel, materials, and accessories before agreeing on a fitting date. This often takes an average of five to 14 working days,” said Aboutera.
As the creative partner, Omar approaches each pair as a piece of progressive art or an elaborate haute couture gown, which requires meticulous attention to materials and quality. As Misura’s lead designer, he personally travels to various destinations every season in order to hand-pick his fabrics and embellishments.
Materials vary depending on seasonal trends and yearly color pallets, Milan is often his favorite city stop for supplies. Since bridal and evening wear are quite essential to Misura’s business, he often focuses on materials that would suit both occasions.
High heels are often associated with classier occasions, however, they are rarely connected to either comfort or practicality. As part of their vision to revolutionize footwear and revive the rapidly vanishing craftsmanship, the tailored brand also seeks to make high heels more attainable.
“Given our specialty in high heels, our shoes often vary between 5 to 12 cms in height, I cannot claim that our designs are comfortable. However, since each shoes is made for a certain woman, it is relatively more comfortable than usual,” said Aboutera.
They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but Swarovski crystals are far the most suitable for footwear. Misura, gives its growing client base the chance to bedazzle their designs with captivating crystals. For a unique touch, the designer personally sources stones unique to each customer.
“Swarovski is by far the main brand behind the best crystals in the world. They are quite clear; meanwhile, they have a large selection of color variations, shapes and sizes. With that said, the brand itself is very flexible when it comes to accommodating clients and designers’ needs,” said Aboutera.
Making shoes in Egypt today is a difficult business. A few decades back, Egypt was well-known for being a renowned exporter of high-end footwear. With the help of a long-line of ancestral artisanship and ethical tanneries, the country occupied a renowned position in the industry. Nonetheless, the recent invasion of commercial fashion and machinery has thrown the artisan craft in rapid fire; causing a sudden deterioration of the local industry.
“Unfortunately, nowadays shoes are regularly made with the help of machinery. On the other hand, our shoes are handmade without the interference of any technology. If you depend on machines, you will get 500 pairs of identical designs. Nonetheless, we aim for a very limited number of pairs from each sketch,” said Aboutera.
The science of creating high-quality shoes and innovative design requires a qualified shoemaker. Unfortunately, skilled artisans are rarer than precious stones, the majority depends on Chinese imports. In an attempt to keep the industry from falling further, Misura is focused on recruiting promising craftsmen and working on enhancing their quality while accelerating speed.
The brand’s earliest voguish experiment was a design covered with Temraza’s spectacular pearls and dashed with L’Oréal’s rainbow of makeup. Misura joined creative forces with local designer, Farida Temraz, to create a couture-worthy line.
“Farida is a renowned and talented designer. Meanwhile, she saw our designs at a very early stage because we both share the same investor; 138 Pyramids. Accordingly, she became familiar with our brand long before anyone else. She was deeply excited since the early beginning to collaborate and create her own line under Misura,” said Aboutera.
The brand recently celebrated its SS17 season by showcasing 10 pairs strutting down the runway alongside Temraza’s white dreams and Femme Fatal extravagance. The two home-grown brands aimed to start a feminist-driven revolution and create the ideal look for women that seize the day and stand for their own goals.
“We certainly hope to collaborate with Temraza once again during the upcoming season. Meanwhile, we are also interested to collaborate with few other local names; including Yasmine Yeya.” Aboutera added “Maison Yeya is an interesting design house specialised in elaborate couture bridal gowns.”
While his clients discuss their new shoe haven, the founders are inspecting the possibility of expanding around the country in order to become more accessible to a larger segment of potential customers.
“Personally, I dream of the day every woman will be able to create her own shoes from scratch with the highest quality and least hustle,” concluded Aboutera.