A new shoe label with a mission to be different.
Neous shoes are easy to wear. They’re also beautiful to look at—you can just as easily store them on a bookshelf as in your closet. Such a thing is rare in footwear, but is the raison d’être for Alan Buanne and Vanissa Antonious, the London-based co-founders of new shoe label Neous [pronounced knee-us]. With a mission to offer a contemporary shoe line with a twist, their MO is centered on the unusual—there are no neutral colored glove pumps or slip-on loafers in their lineup. Instead, they focus on dynamic fabrications and innovative design. Heels are reimagined as sculptures and buckles are oversized. “Our vision is to create a brand inspired by the beauty of form, colors and wearability,” say the pair. "We employ a minimalist and understated approach where less is more and practicality is considered.”
“Our woman values quality and design, she appreciates form, beauty, and fashion.”
Antonious and Buanne first met at the University of Sydney in Australia, simultaneously studying and working in fashion retail. An instant friendship blossomed, and shortly after they set out on careers within the fashion industry. Antonious as a market editor at Harper’s BAZAAR in Australia and later the UK, and Buanne practicing under a Florentine shoe maker before joining Nicholas Kirkwood as his right hand man. Years later, with plenty of study and experience behind them, the pair teamed up to follow their dreams. “At Harper's Bazaar UK I specialized in accessories—namely bags and shoes,” says Antonious. “I felt there was a gap in the market for wearable, Italian made shoes at a contemporary price point with minimalist yet unexpected design. With Alan having the technical skills and knowledge it was a natural choice to make shoes.” The feeling was mutual for Buanne, whose family has been in the shoe business for generations. His father and grandfather were shoe designers in Italy, and brought the family business to Australia when they emigrated from Italy in the ‘70s. “I love the process and am passionate about the skill that goes into making a shoe,” he says. “I trained with a Master bespoke shoe maker in Florence which was a unique experience that not all shoe designers have. I also identified the same gap from spending time face to face with footwear buyers over the years and gaining insight as to why some products perform better than others.”
The duo quickly decided to focus on creating shoes that were inventive and unique, but were also comfortable—a tough combination to achieve. “We wanted to create shoes that were versatile within the wardrobe and comfortable enough to be worn all day—but sold at a contemporary price point,” say the pair. “These three characteristics combined make up our point of difference along with our design aesthetic.” In practice, they’ve achieved it. Mules feature chunky (but still sculptural) heels for optimal comfort, slides are made from buttery leather and suede with large buckle embellishments, and crocheted pumps are both elegant and incredibly comfortable. By mixing unusual fabrications with thoughtful design, the pair aims to reach a customer who cares deeply about her footwear. “Our woman values quality and design, she appreciates form, beauty, and fashion.”
Like many industry pairings, both Buanne and Antonious bring a unique skill set to the company. “What makes Neous special is that it is a true collaboration in the way that we both design together,” say Antonious. “We have input in all areas of the business. We bring different experiences but we've found our skills are easily transferable. Anything we didn't already know we spent the first few months learning. That being said, it isn't always productive for us to do everything together. Alan spends more time at the factory overseeing the sampling and production and I work on the brand imagery. But at the end of the day we both agree on everything – well, most things!”
As with all shoes, the proof is in the first few tentative steps. We're betting that with Neous, they'll be comfortable and stylish ones.