Archive for July, 2010

I remember very clearly the first time that I heard about Cri de Coeur. A good friend of mine had forwarded a link to Daily Candy  – the feature that day (2/15/08) was the new vegan footwear line – Cri de Coeur. My boutique had only been open for a little bit more than ½ year at that point and I had been searching for a vegan shoe line that would make me think – “I so want those shoes for myself”. I contacted Gina right away and when I received the linesheets, I fell in love with every style (especially Scout).

Since then, each new collection of Cri de Coeur has been filled with stunning, vegan and eco styles. The recent addition of the Hearts of Darkness line makes Gina’s and Julie’s designs accessible at all price points. Fall’10 also brings the debut of Cri de Coeur handbags – made in NYC! Start saving – you will definitely want one – this will be a handbag for life.

We have had Cri de Coeur Trunk Shows at the shop – the most recent was last April and it was a blast. We plan to have an event like this twice a year to coincide with the new collections – so stay posted to find out details about the next one.

So – on to the interview with these 2 talented and lovly designers- Gina Ferraraccio and Julie Dicterow.

What made you decide to get into fashion ?

Julie: I wanted to fill the void in the high-end vegan fashion market.

Gina: I’ve been a fashion-phile all my life – I can’t imagine doing anything else!

How do you see the role of fashion in an eco-life ?

We think that what we wear says so much about who we are, and it is so important to wear your heart on your sleeve, so to speak, by making choices in fashion that compliment our ideals on the inside.

What have been some of the most positive experiences for you since starting your company?

It’s awesome to know that we’re making a difference by doing something we love.  It’s also been great to see that the awareness of how a vegan lifestyle can benefit the world has grown tremendously, from helping to reverse global warming, to healthy living, to eliminating animal suffering.  We rarely get asked ‘what’s a vegan shoe?’ these days.

What have been some of the draw backs ?

The cost of keeping things “green” up against the prices people can afford in this economy.  Sourcing has been one of our biggest challenges.

When you go to the footwear shows, what kind of response do you get from people who don’t know at first that you are a vegan/eco line ?

 We try not to lead with a disclaimer that our line is vegan. We like the product to speak for itself and stand on its own among other contemporary and leather-heavy footwear and handbag companies. With that being said, when asked about materials, people are often surprised about how similar to leather it looks. We would love to replace the need and want for leather goods by offering something that won’t cause people to feel they have to sacrifice style to support cruelty-free fashion.

 For Gina- what difference do you see in your company now that you have a partner – what is it that you both bring to the table ?

I can’t imagine doing this without Julie now!  It’s great to be able to bounce ideas and to have another pair of hands, and our skills are really complementary.  The design process as a collaborative effort is amazing, and we’re both constantly surprised by how much we’re thinking the same things.  

For Julie – what drew you to Cri de Coeur & – do you find that you are influenced by your music?

I was drawn to Cri de Coeur first as a consumer looking for vegan shoes to complement my wardrobe. Cri de Coeur designs were stylish, comfortable and fashion forward.

 I think that being a musician and being a designer are just ways in which I can express myself creatively. They are the only things in this world I feel I can do well. I love that I can use these outlets to also make a difference in the world by raising  awareness about the cruelty of animals in a way that is not as painful for me as if I worked for PETA or The Humane Society, for example. It is my own way of functioning in the world, but still being proactive in the change in the world.

 How did you connect with each other ?

Julie: While at Parsons New School of Design, I was looking for an internship and met her for an interview. Very quickly we realized that we worked very well together and had similar tastes and desires for the future of fashion. I really wanted to introduce handbags to the line, and we collaborated on the expansion. After that, we became partners!

 What are some of your favorite styles (from any of your current or past collections) and why?

Julie: I love Scout and Alexa. The Scout because it is simple, very stylish and comfortable.

Alexa because it is so fashion forward and unique.  Everyone stops me on the street when I wear them.

 Gina: I’ve been reaching for Lydia almost everyday this summer – so easy and comfy for running around everyday.  The wedge heel and elastic straps on Emma also make for an amazing summer sandal.  And I know when fall comes back around, Ariel and Stephanie will be my go-to boots again.

 What would you like to have customers understand about the production of your line – 

Customers sometimes balk at the prices, and being on tight budgets ourselves, we understand – but we hope people are aware that the price tags aren’t come up with arbitrarily…every step of the production process adds its own cost to the bottom line.  For example, all products are made by hand in socially responsible factories that pay fair wages, and materials are the highest quality.  Not only do they look and feel good, they’ll endure through many years of wear. 

 Where do you get your inspiration from for each collection ?

Each collection is newly inspired – by personal experiences, photoshoots, girls with great personal style, films, art, nostalgia – it all depends what we’re feeling at the time. Cri de Coeur’s upcoming fall’10 season is inspired by the idea of women on the frontier, a little rough and unkempt, but still edgy and forward thinking; Hearts of Darkness is glam and luxe – lots of rich textures.

What eco clothing lines do you especially like ?

We like Lara Miller, Vaute Couture, Feral Childe, H.Fredriksson, Popomomo, Study NY, Mociun…there are so many we could go on and on!

 I know that Cri de Coeur shoes/boots have been worn by models in fashion shows for popomomo and Vaute Couture – any others or any future ones planned.

We love to collaborate with designers during fashion weeks – there will definitely be a couple this September.  We’re also the exclusive women’s shoe designer at the upcoming NY Vegetarian Expo’s fashion show on Oct 2.  More details here: http://nyvegetarianexpo.org/index.php4

 What changes have you seen in the industry since your debut collection ?

The economic recession hit us hard during 2009, and while it’s much better lately, there is still a lingering sense of caution when people are purchasing – both wholesale buyers and end consumers.   More happily, in the past 3 years, there’s been a surge of people wanting to live a green and humane lifestyle.

 What influence do you think that Facebook, Twitter, etc., (social media in general) has had on the growth of your business ?

The social media help us connect quickly to a vast amount of fans in so many ways. Also, networking helps us link together with other like-minded businesses to get the word out and help each other.

 What’s your favorite aspect of your business ?

Julie: My favorite aspect of our business is designing the collections with Gina.

Gina: I love getting the first prototypes of our new designs and seeing all the ideas come to fruition.

 If you had unlimited investment money, is there anything else that you would branch out into.

 Oh yes! Many, many things!  If anyone out there is interested, email for our business plan and proposal 😉

Thanks to Gina and Julie for taking the time to provide such thoughtful and comprehensive answers. To learn more about their wonderful company, check them out on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/cridecoeur?ref=mf 

and on their website – http://cri-de-coeur.com/

p.s. – they now have a stunning collection of jewelry. I’m waiting to get the bracelet that I ordered and then I’ll post some pics.


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