New footwear label Bronwyn is the creation of talented designer Sarah Street. Images by Holly Sarah Burgess.
Talented footwear designer Sarah Street launches her own footwear label today named Bronwyn which features chic styles that are perfect for the modern woman’s busy life. Sarah was formerly head designer at Mi Piaci and Overland Footwear and honed her knowledge of footwear over the past 12 years in both New Zealand and the UK. She has a sharp eye for stylish design and has created Bronwyn to offer conscious, carefully crafted shoes that are meant to be worn for many seasons to come.
From last to leather, Sarah’s design ethos for Bronwyn centres around thoughtful silhouettes and considered details with contemporary comfort and unwavering quality. Bronwyn’s debut range is available to shop online now and will be available at selected stockists once local stores re-open.
We caught up with Sarah to find out more about her brand, what inspires her and what her favourite pieces are from her first collection?
How did your new label come about and what was the inspiration behind it?
I have been wanting to start my own brand for a long time, and I guess in some ways I was waiting (procrastinating) for the perfect moment and the courage to do it. A lot of starting a brand is actually just taking a massive leap of faith and hoping like hell everything will work out. Of course from there, there is a lot of hard work, long hours, tears and moments of utter despair and feelings of inadequacy, but it’s all part of the beautiful journey.
The whole ethos behind the brand is creating footwear that complements the multifaceted lives we, as women, lead. The brand is also centred around a slower approach to fashion. Creating wardrobe staples that can be worn for seasons to come. Every style is designed to have that perfect balance of a minimalist aesthetic paired with subtle, elevated detailing, and contemporary comfort. The collection is split into a capsule collection and foundation collection. The capsule collection is more of a limited edition edit with key seasonal hues but still in timeless silhouettes. The foundation collection is created from key pieces that will stay in the collection year round, the colours are very neutral and the styles are minimal in aesthetic, but all with elevated detailing.
I named the Brand after my late mother Bronwyn, and she has definitely been one of my biggest inspirations. It has been an absolute journey, and I hope I have made my Mum proud.
Tell us about your first collection for your new brand?
My first collection is definitely a transitional one for me. I’ve named it becoming, because I feel like I’m really on a journey of finding myself, and redefining my own unique identity as a designer. I’m really enjoying changing my thought process around design, challenging myself on what I have done in the past, what I can do with the future. It’s been really liberating and also incredibly unnerving, but a highly enjoyable experience all round and I hope the women who discover Bronwyn will love the collection as much as I do.
What are your favourite pieces from the range?
Hardest question! I love Cas, I love the utilitarian aesthetic of it balanced with that all day practicality of a low heel, I am also a fan of the extra wide rand on Cas. I find it a style that is easy to dress up and down which is a major bonus, so it’s great being able to pair them with a suit or a pair of jeans. I also really love Stevie for a go to forever mule, and Ross is honestly like walking on clouds!
Footwear from Bronwyn’s debut collection.
There has been an increasing awareness from consumers and the fashion industry about the issues around creating fashion ethically and sustainably. How important is that to you with your own business and what factors do you take into account when you personally shop from other brands?
I think as a brand owner and a creator of product, you have a responsibility to the consumer and the planet to create and produce consciously. This for me in starting Bronwyn, was a non-negotiable. It took me a really long time to find the perfect manufacturing partner that aligned with my values. We work with an incredible, SMETA accredited factory in Brazil, and their leather partners are all LWG certified tanneries. Transparency for me was key too, I wanted to be able to work directly with the factory and the people that were hand crafting my shoes, I wanted to create with them, fit the shoes with them (albeit all via video) to ensure the product was unique from the last up, not something that was simply picked off a shelf from an agent. There is definitely a cost that comes with producing anything sustainably, and also limitations, but as the manufacturing world transitions to a more environmental approach, and the consumer understanding and mindset shifts along with it, it will hopefully get easier and more accessible.
Personally, I’m absolutely not perfect, but I am becoming increasingly more aware of what I buy and how I will wear it, and what place it will hold in my wardrobe. I love simple yet flattering silhouettes and pieces that can be worn in a number of ways, with a number of different items. My style and wardrobe has definitely become more streamlined over the years as I’ve been learning how to be a better and more conscious shopper. I love supporting New Zealand brands as we have such a talented pool here, and I always try to invest in pieces that I will wear for seasons to come.
How would you describe your personal style and how does it influence your designs?
Comfort and practicality is key, especially running after two little ones. I think naturally as a designer your personal aesthetic becomes interwoven with your brand’s aesthetic to some degree. What’s important for me is that the styles Bronwyn offers are chic yet timeless, complement the wearer, and can be worn for seasons to come.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received that you keep referring back to as a designer?
That it is important to always follow your intuition, be open to change and be able to shift and evolve as and when you need to, because as a brand and as a designer to grow is to change. The other piece of advice from a multitude of sources has always been to listen to your consumer and create with them in mind always, because you cannot sustain a brand without them.