Most people leave the Netherlands with a renewed appreciation for cycling, tulips and pancakes, but during a stroll in Amsterdam, Noah Waxman found his calling in a pair of handmade shoes placed in the window of a cobbler’s studio along one of the city’s famed canals. The shoes were clown-like with elongated toes. “They weren’t your average shoes and I immediately wanted to know how he made them,” the designer says. Waxman felt comfortable with knocking on the shoemaker’s door, even though he didn’t know a lick of Dutch. He says, “Everyone speaks English in Amsterdam, but the shoemaker didn’t speak a word of it. Our interaction was strange, but we connected through the shoes.”
Waxman continued his design education in the Netherlands where he learned how to make lasts, cut materials and, making the most of his prime locale, traveled to other European shoemaking cities as often as possible. “It was a great chance to see what and how other people were designing,” he says. That perpsective laid the foundation for Waxman’s eponymous collection of women’s and men’s leather footwear which, despite his zeal for European travel, is designed in New York and crafted in California. “[Footwear design] is a beautiful art form and too good to let it go completely,” he says in regards to his domestic production efforts. “I want to help it keep going.” And, Waxman adds, American-made products are finding support in international markets. “There’s a lot of interest in Asia and Italy in American craftsmanship,” he notes. “It’s new and exciting to them and we should be making more than shoes.”
The Spring ’14 line–his second full collection–plays with textures mixing leathers with raffia and introducing wedge silhouettes for women. Waxman focused on fashion colors like blue and green for men, as well as sandals and exotic skins. “I don’t want to make anything ho-hum, but I want people to be comfortable in their own skin. That’s the fun and challenge for me,” he says. Wholesale prices span $150 to $398 for classics; $750 to $998 for exotics.