Thinking Outside the Bag

Classic accessory company Sondra Roberts launches a footwear line.

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Classic accessory company Sondra Roberts launches a footwear line.

Thirty years ago, Sandra Camche walked into every upscale accessory store on Madison Avenue, carrying a collection of handbags crafted using the same luxury materials as the purses lining the shops’ shelves—but at half the price. Coined Sondra Roberts, the collection quickly caught on, and is now carried everywhere from specialty boutiques to Bloomingdale’s. So it’s fitting that in honor of the brand’s 30th anniversary, Camche’s sons Robert and Glenn are carrying on the company tradition, and their mother’s memory, by launching a shoe line committed to the same high-quality, low-price combination.

Available beginning Spring ’12, the collection of wedges, heels, sandals and flats will feature high-end materials, like Italian leathers, jute from Spain and embossed exotics, at an affordable retail price range of $45 for sandals to $198 for snakeskin-printed leather heels. With many styles crafted to coordinate with the brand’s bags and stand out on retail displays, Glen Camche, the company’s president and creative director, sees the progression into footwear as a natural next step. “We have sold our handbags at hundreds of shoe stores for many years, and we already have an established customer base,” he notes.

For spring, Hillary Latos, footwear designer for Sondra Roberts, says the collection’s inspiration was “very nautical,” with lots of navy, raffia and stripes. “We wanted to create a range of shoes where women could go from day to night and from vacation to the city,” she explains. For Fall ’12, the brand is planning a 70s-inspired collection of closed-toe booties and chunky heels, featuring tonal textures and rich brocades and velvets. “I think the trend is getting away from the super skinny stilettos and toward something more balanced,” she says.

“We were just trying to go back to the heritage of the brand,” Latos adds of the brand’s inspiration for fall, which involved looking at vintage Sondra Roberts designs, as well as Glen’s “carefully curated and archived” collection of his mother’s classic Judith Leiber bags. “Some of the craftsmanship on those vintage designer bags you just don’t see today,” Latos says. —Audrey Goodson

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