Marais USA

Catherine Chen and Haley Boyd (far left and far right)

Catherine Chen and Haley Boyd (far left and far right)

Tell us how you guys met? What are your backgrounds?
C: We met during our Sophomore year at Parsons School of Design. We had this crazy teacher the very first semester of fashion design that infamously fails half the class every semester. Luckily, we escaped unscathed and became good buddies in the process!

Tell us a little about how you founded Marais USA, and on what principles?
H: We really founded Marais USA, because we couldn’t find the simplest, most obvious shoes. A plain black patent flat was for some reason a void in the market. No one was making a good one for less than 100 bucks. We didn’t understand why simple had to be expensive, so we design all the basics that we can’t find anywhere else.

The price point is very accessible and recession friendly. Do you see the line staying within these price points or do you have plans to also produce a higher-end shoe as well?
C: Right now we design for ourselves and consequently our budgets. We always have an overarching goal for the collection. For this season, it was to make a great knee-high boot for $150 and classic oxfords that are pretty much seasonless.
H: Our main focus is to keep things simple and affordable, but we’d love to do some limited editions in the future, so we can have more freedom with materials and embellishment.

What were your inspirations for your Fall collection and color palette?
C: We were really inspired by functional, utilitarian, classic shapes that translated to a more androgynous collection. We designed shoes that can pretty much be worn with anything from pants, to skirts, to dresses, to shorts with tights! Mainly, we pretty much wanted to take the thinking out of getting dressed in the morning… at least as far as footwear is concerned.

What are some of your favorite places near your Greenpoint studio? And for that matter, Brooklyn?
H: Five Leaves americano every morning, Coco 68 for a half chicken dinner, and the Ft. Greene Flea is the by far the best flea market in NY
C: Sweetwater (best bklyn burger), 10ft single (best vintage shop), Greenpoint Coffee House (best eggs benedict and fresh OJ).

Besides a killer pair of shoes/heels, what else should every girl have in their wardrobe in this economy?
H: It’s definitely worth investing in an awesome winter coat. I finally splurged on a classic, long, black one at Philip Lim last winter, and was able to get away with wearing cheap mondays and tshirts under it almost every day! A nice coat really pulls your outfit together, plus I’ll probably be wearing this jacket for the next 5 years
C: Black Wolford tights… they are pricey, but it really saves you money in the long run. You will wear them all the time and they will never run.

What do you guys listen to while you are sketching?
H: Jane Birkin, Nina Simone, and Stevie Wonder come up the most, but I usually just put my Itunes on shuffle.
C: Right now I’m listening to Phoenix, Harry Nilsson, Billy Joel, and Grizzly Bear.