If you are a total shoe-addict, there’s no way you haven’t heard of Sultan Al Darmaki. Darmaki (of Emirate descent) is gradually conquering the world with his glamorously embellished shoes which are basically no less than pieces of art. Based in London and manufactured in Italy, his shoes absolutely reflect the mix of cultural influences and superior Italian craftsmanship. His are the kinds of shoes you coordinate your outfit to, not the other way around; as they are true eyecatchers.
We interviewed this genius of shoes and asked him all about his designs, how he realised his dreams, and what his plans are for the future. Meet Sultan Al Darmaki!
How does a Bachelor in PR and Marketing end up becoming a successful (luxurious) shoe designer?
It’s not really about what you study, it’s about what you have a passion for and my heart has always been for fashion from a very young age. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy studying PR and Marketing. I have to admit that it’s a very important tool in order to build a successful luxury brand. You have to remember that Communications and Fashion Design are an art form and when you integrate them, you have the magic mix.
How did you go about pursuing your dream? Did you go back to school to learn more on how to design/make shoes?
I have been sketching womenswear and shoes since I was probably 12 years old, but I never anticipated that it would be an industry that I would be involved in at this level. Not until two years ago, when I strongly felt that fashion designing was my calling, and that it was the perfect time to follow my dream. To make the DARMAKI dream a reality we partnered with one of the top manufacturers in Italy who produces for the likes of D&G, Fendi and Gucci.
We read in an article that your designs span a wide range of emotions. What triggers your imagination to design a specific shoe?
It’s a combination – anything that manifests beauty. It could be a painting, a scent, a woman, or sometimes a memory or a vision.
Who is your favourite colleague shoe-designer and why?
Manolo Blahnik and Roger Vivier as they are truly the masters of footwear design.
In what way do shoes contribute to a woman’s beauty?
I cater for a fashion-forward and sensual woman, she embodies the modern woman’s confidence and femininity. She is beautiful, both timeless and adventurous in her tastes and demands excellence and exquisite attention to detail.
How many pairs of shoes do you own yourself? And is designing men’s shoes something you would think of doing in the future?
I am obsessed with men’s sandals. It got to the point where I had more than a hundred pairs. Now I am quite in love with loafers so I’m only just starting to count the number I currently own!
Yes of course I would love to design my own men’s shoe line. I have been approached by quite a few men’s footwear brands that offered me a position to lead their creative team. I do see myself designing men’s shoes in the future but only designing what I love… and that will potentially be men’s loafers and sandals.
Could you describe your ultimate fantasy shoe? Did you design it already?
No not yet but it’s definitely something I would like to present at a special event. I have always been in love with the beautiful vs harsh concept or light vs dark concept. In addition to that there’s also my admiration for the opulence of rare feathers. So it will be a concept that combines all the elements mentioned above; a reflection of the birds of paradise vs an edgy finish.
Your vision is to design shoes for women of all generations. But for which woman (alive or passed) would you want to design one ultimate pair of shoes for? And why?
Angelina Jolie. She is the epitome of style and I adore how despite dressing discreetly she is still flirtatious and glamorous.
What’s your take on why women are so addicted to shoes?
It’s just like the red lipstick, it does have a sensual impact on the woman wearing it. It gives her a lovely posture and makes her feel feminine. Let alone the fact that it reflects her mood.
Why do you think your customers are addicted to your shoes in particular?
We do offer something different and we don’t want to be mass marketed. DARMAKI is exclusively sold at selected retailers and sold in minimum quantity to maintain the exclusivity of the brand. We prefer catering to a more sophisticated client who prefers to stand out in an event wearing a pair of shoes that only a few own.
What do you think is the single most important thing that a shoe should have?
COMFORT; if the shoes are not comfortable do not buy them. Think of shoes as an investment, so for the amount you pay make sure they are comfortable, classical and will stay with you for a very long time.
What are your plans for DARMAKI in the near future?
I want to build DARMAKI into a global successful brand.
We think Sultan Al Darmaki will probably achieve his futures goal as well, so you keep an eye out for him and his wonderful footwear!
For more information: www.darmaki.com