Being named to the ‘Trendsetter’ lists from IKRAM, Vogue and Black Enterprise is something that is hard to describe. Yes, it was thrilling and served as validation for the hard work Kendall Miles Designs has put it in to developing luxury shoes unlike anything that’s currently out there. But it also made me reflect on how I got there.

I attended Ars Sutoria, the world leading fashion school in Milan, Italy. This allowed me to acquire the necessary knowledge to combine avant-garde construction methods with the timeless, classic look I wanted to create with my shoe designs. It helped being surrounded by the inspiration and history of Italian shoemaking.

Italian shoes have long been considered the finest in the world, sold in the top boutiques and departments stores around the world. It started with brilliant trendsetters like Salvatore Ferragamo, who became known as the shoemaker to the stars in the 1920s, ultimately designing shoes for icons like Judy Garland and Marilyn Monroe. Or Bruno Magli, created by siblings Marino, Bruno and Maria. The trio learned to make shoes by their cobbler father, and then turned the family basement into their workshop.

These were some of the trendsetters I wanted to be like, and I have so much respect for their hard work and their humble beginnings. Whether it’s sneakers, sandals, or high heels, Italy is the place for the highest quality shoes around. When you see an Italian-crafted shoe, you know it’s elegant, beautiful and sexy. When I launched Kendall Miles Designs, I knew my shoes needed to be handcrafted in Italy—our factory is in Florence. In my eyes, there was no other option. Because part of being a trendsetter is paying homage to those that came before you.

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