In this exclusive interview, we delve into the life and career of Yosi Samra, the innovative mind behind the renowned Yosi Samra brand. Yosi Samra’s runway-inspired styles have been featured in Vogue, InStyle and Glamour Magazines and spotted on some of fashion’s most trend-setting celebrities, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Anne Hathaway, and Halle Berry.
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Yosi Samra, a second-generation shoe designer, has made a significant impact on the footwear industry with his innovative fold-up ballet flat design. Growing up in his father’s shoe factory in New York City, Samra was immersed in the art of shoemaking from an early age. This exposure to the craft sparked his passion for footwear and laid the foundation for his future career.
Samra’s inspiration for the fold-up ballet flat came from observing women struggling with uncomfortable high heels at events. He noticed women walking barefoot, clutching their heels in one hand and their tiny clutch bag in the other. Recognizing this unmet need, Samra set out to create a stylish yet comfortable shoe that could easily fit into a small purse. His iconic fold-up ballet flats, known as the Samara, were born out of this vision.
The introduction of the fold-up ballet flat revolutionized the footwear industry. Prioritizing both style and comfort, Samra’s design offered a practical solution for on-the-go women. The shoes quickly gained popularity, transforming the Yosi Samra brand into a household name.
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In addition to the unique fold-up design, the Yosi Samra brand is known for its high-quality materials and attention to detail. Samra personally selects the finest genuine leathers and unique materials for his shoes, ensuring each pair is not only stylish but also comfortable and durable. Recently, Samra expanded his brand to include a line of children’s footwear.
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Inspired by the growing trend of “Mommy and Me” styles and his own daughter’s interest in fashion, Samra created a line that allows mothers and daughters to enjoy matching styles. The children’s line has been well-received by customers, further solidifying the Yosi Samra brand’s position in the market. Despite the ever-changing trends in the fashion industry, Samra remains ahead by conducting thorough trend research and continually introducing new designs. In this interview, we explore the fascinating world of Yosi Samra, from his earliest memories in his father’s shoe factory to his current success as a leading shoe designer.
1. Yosi, you grew up in your father’s shoe factory in New York City. Can you share some of your earliest memories from that time and how they influenced your decision to become a shoe designer?
Growing up in my father’s shoe factory in New York, some of my earliest memories involve the smell of leather and the sound of sewing machines. I was always surrounded by the artistry and craftsmanship of shoemaking, which sparked my curiosity and passion for footwear.
These early experiences played a significant role in my decision to become a shoe designer, as they instilled in me a deep appreciation for the intricacies of shoe design and manufacturing.
2. You are known as the pioneer of the fold-up ballet flat movement. What inspired you to create this unique design and how did it revolutionize the footwear industry?
I was inspired to create fold-up ballet flats because I wanted women to have a comfortable and convenient footwear option. I’ve seen countless women taking off their uncomfortable heels at events and walking around barefoot, and I wanted to offer them a stylish alternative. This innovation aimed to provide women with a practical yet fashionable solution for on-the-go comfort, ultimately revolutionizing the footwear industry by prioritizing both style and comfort in one package.
3. Your brand is recognized for its high-quality genuine leathers and unique details. Can you tell us more about the process of selecting materials and creating designs for your shoes?
Certainly, sourcing high-quality materials is a fundamental aspect of our shoe design process. We work with various suppliers to ensure we have access to the finest genuine leathers and unique materials. When it comes to selecting materials, I believe in a hands-on approach. I personally engage in the process, touching, feeling, and even smelling the leather to ensure its quality and authenticity. This attention to detail and dedication to using the best materials contributes to the distinctive and high-quality nature of our shoe designs, allowing us to create footwear that not only looks great but also feels exceptional when worn.
4. Recently, you expanded your brand to include a line of children’s fashion. What motivated this decision, and how have your customers received it?
Expanding my brand to include a children’s fashion line was motivated by the recognition of a growing trend in “Mommy and Me” styles and the desire of young girls to emulate their mothers’ fashion choices. This was particularly evident with my own daughter, Sadie, who is now 8 years old. Seeing her interest in fashion and her enthusiasm for my shoes inspired me to create a line that both mothers and daughters could enjoy together.
The response from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive. The Mommy and Me concept has resonated with many families who appreciate the opportunity to match their styles with their children. It’s been a rewarding experience to not only see my daughter, Sadie, enjoy the shoes but also to have her become the face of our children’s footwear campaigns. This connection between our brand and our customers’ families has been truly heartwarming and enjoyable.
5. How do you stay ahead of trends in the ever-changing world of fashion? What inspires your designs each season?
Staying ahead of trends in the dynamic fashion industry is a core element of our design process. We have a dedicated team that conducts thorough trend research, closely examining not only emerging fashion trends but also the performance of our top sellers from previous collections. We take these insights and update them to align with current trends, ensuring that our designs remain relevant and appealing to our customers.
In addition to refining our existing styles, we continually introduce new designs based on fresh trend concepts that we believe resonate with our customer base and align with our brand identity. Our goal is to strike a balance between staying on-trend and staying true to our unique aesthetic.
Furthermore, our instincts play a significant role in our design process. We identify certain styles that we consider timeless classics and staples for our customers. These enduring designs offer a sense of reliability and comfort while also aligning with the evolving tastes of our clientele. Ultimately, it’s this combination of research, innovation, and a strong sense of what defines our brand that inspires our designs each season and keeps us at the forefront of the fashion industry.
6. Lastly, what advice would you give to aspiring shoe designers who look up to you and your success in the industry?
My father imparted two valuable pieces of advice that have guided me throughout my career: “If it were easy, then everyone would do it,” and “There is no secret to success aside from working hard and not giving up.” To aspiring shoe designers, I would emphasize the importance of perseverance and dedication. This industry can be challenging, but if you’re passionate about your craft, willing to put in the hard work, and remain resilient in the face of obstacles, you can achieve your goals and make a mark in the world of fashion.