One degree from the prestigious London College of Fashion and a stint working as an investment banker later, Aruna Seth launched her eponymous shoe label. The brief layover in another career, she says, was to help develop her business acumen and the efficiency needed to run a business. Combined with her passion for shoes – with a personal collection of over 150 pairs – and a love of culture, a brand was born. “Every shoe exudes glamour and is a part of me,” she says about her craft and her passion. Earlier this year, the young designer’s bridal and fashion lines became a household name among the UK fash set when Pippa Middleton – sister to The Duchess of Cambridge – wore a pair of Seth originals to the royal wedding (the in-demand Lynn, a silver leather sandal touched with Swarovski crystals and a crystal butterfly), making headlines and igniting curiosity in North America. Her signature cerise wedge embellished sweetly with Swarovski crystals and bow is also a veritable bestseller in London, and Seth says, “Girls will literally grab my feet as I walk past wearing them to ask me where to purchase them!” But the hard work doesn’t stop. The designer is currently looking to expand all collections within the brand, with sights set on a store in London and forays into Asia and India. “I want to build a classi,c good quality shoe brand that stands the test of time; I’d love to be here in one hundred years like Chanel.”
What inspires you?
I have a family heritage in shoes. My father has been making shoes for over 40 years; he is my biggest inspiration, and designing and creating beautiful shoes is in my blood.
Why did you decided to launch the brand?
My designs are based around what I love from shoes and my travels. Before I started my line, I could never find the perfect shoes for day to evening occasions. I wanted to create shoes for the red carpet with that extra ‘wow’ factor. I wanted to create shoes leaving an impression and create designs girls quickly build up a strong emotional attachment to.
How has business shifted since you started?
We started in the midst of recession, so selling shoes of an unknown designer brand was challenging. But we’ve persevered through and year on year sales are getting better and we’re gaining more international recognition. Pippa wearing our shoes helped the brand become even more globally recognized.
Were you surprised or shocked by anything when you became a designer?
I started this business because I love designing shoes, but when you have a successful business you realize you have to spend a lot of time focused on your business and not concentrating on design. It’s unfortunate, but I still fit some in late at night after a day’s work.
What is your customer, your muse?
A glamorous lady who loves to be refined, yet stand out from the crowd. Aruna Seth is a treat to spoil shoe lovers. We certainly design with different countries and cultures in mind. For example, Russia has a “more bling the better” approach and loves black shoes boots and Swarovski-encrusted style; the US is a broad market from wedges to high heels and an array of colours; and the UK is very fashion-led, and girls love higher heels at the moment.
Where do you want to take the brand in the future?
I want to build a classic good quality shoe brand which stands the test of time; I’d love to be here in one hundred years time like Chanel. We are looking to expand our accessories range next year with scarves. It is great to be able to match up a pair of fabulous shoes with a hand-bag so we just had a delivery of new clutch bags in a range of colours to suit our shoes. We’d also like to continue to expand into different markets such as North America, Asia and Russia.
Any dream collaborations?
We’d love to collaborate with a brand like Temperley. Our shoes perfectly match their dresses, which are very ethereal and dreamy with fabulous details such as the great beading.
Your fashion dinner date, past or present, would be…
It would be a dream to meet any of the designers that I aspire to be like. I love Bluemarine and Valentino, both brands have exquisite, feminine and rich designs. I’d love to pick their brains about their business strategy and designs.
What’s a piece of advice you’d give to aspiring designers?
Passion, perseverance, openness and good customer service are key ingredients to the fashion industry. Being passionate about your brand and product is highly important. You have to persevere and wish to be in the fashion industry for the long-term, keep chipping away at building relationships with buyers, clients and marketing the brand.