After 15 years in the apparel business, Isobel Schofield decided it was time for a change. “I found myself really burnt out,” the British-born designer remembers. “I took some time off to recharge my creative batteries and find my new path.” While she was on this “creative walkabout,” she reached out to a Midwestern clog company and asked if it would take her on as an apprentice. “One thing led to another, and I fell in love with the process of making shoes.”
She launched Bryr, her line of American-made clogs, in September of 2012. Based out of a small workshop in San Francisco, Schofield buys most of her leather from a century-old tannery and uses solid wood for her soles. “To me, the quality of the craftsmanship and the materials is always the most important,” she says, noting that she learned this during her time as head designer at Splendid. “I think that’s where everything really clicked,” she adds.
Now, her creative process starts with “finding a gorgeous hide,” taking it back to her studio, playing around with a few ideas and then making a new design. “I make all my first protos in my size, so I can wear them for a day or two to make sure they feel comfortable and look great,” she reveals. “Once they’re past the ‘street test,’ we go into a limited run of about 10 to 25 pieces.” For Spring ’15 (available for pre-order on Nov. 3), she’s feeling inspired by the West: the Gold Rush towns in the Sierras; the pioneer spirit of the hippie communities of Big Sur. “I love the independent, free-spirited feel of California, the rugged coastline and the pastoral valleys,” she says.
FP: Which celebrities or famous people would you love to see in one of your designs? IS: I love Alexa Chung’s style and I think she’d look great in our clogs.
FP: Where do you like to shop? IS: I’ve always been a big vintage shopper. I have a million cute vintage dresses in my closet, but I’m usually just wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
FP: Which shoes in your closet are getting the most wear? IS: I mostly wear my clogs, but if I also love my beat-up old Blundstone boots.
FP: What shoe must every woman have in her closet? IS: Our new Camilla lace-up brogues.
FP: Which trends do you hope to never see again? IS: Crop tops.
FP: Which designer do you admire the most? IS: Margaret Howell
FP: What is your favorite part of your job? IS: I love the moment when all the elements–the base, the leather, the buckles, the laces–come together and become a shoe.
FP: If you weren’t designing shoes, what would you be doing? IS: Traveling the Americas in a vintage camper van.