10:49 PM |

Meet Haley Boyd and Catherine Chen, the powerhouse duo behind Marais USA. I've talked before about how inspired I am by my (former) classmates and friends who are among the movers & shakers or the design world, and these fellow Parsons '08 grads are only a further testament to that fact!

Haley & Catherine have been on a mission to create cute, affordable, well-made classic pieces that can be the foundations of a city girls shoe wardrobe, and barely 3 years into their venture, they're doing a pretty damn good job.

The two joined me for a quick Q&A!

What do you draw inspiration from?
Catherine and I design shoes that we ourselves want to wear every day. Comfort and walk-ability are huge factors for us, so we tend to focus on flats and wedges that you can actually get around New York City in.

How are you doing things differently?
Most shoe companies release at least 50 styles every season. We design a maximum of 6 styles. Our goal is to zero in on the basics and make them as awesome as possible, while still keeping the design simple and relatively streamlined. We don't try to fluff up our collection with tons of variation and decoration.

If you had to pick, which is your favorite Marais USA style? Why?
My favorite style is our Chelsea Boot. I don't think there is a single thing in my closet I wouldn't wear them with.

What's your design process like?
Well we begin by identifying what it is that we will want to be wearing, then we figure out what is already available, so we can offer something seemingly basic (yet hard to find) at a decent price. When we designed our Oxford, there was nothing else like it on the market - especially for under $100. Now there are Oxfords at every shoe shop in New York!

Do you see yourselves expanding the line? (An affordable line of accessories, handbags, etc.)
Absolutely, we are gearing up to do handbags, and a few small accessories. Stay tuned :)

If you could collaborate with any artist or designer, who would it be?
There are many, but right now Phoebe Philo is the designer I'd love to work with.

Favorite Summer time Event:
Haley: Weekly Saturday Flea Market in Fort Greene

Songs of the Summer:
Catherine: Neil Young: "Vampire Blues"

Summer Dining Destination:
Catherine: Five Leaves

#1 Wishlist Item:
Haley: White Ghost Chairs for my kitchen table

Style Icon:
Haley: Daria Werbowy


Up for grabs are a brand-spanking-new pair of Marais USA's classic Oxford in either White or Hunter Green.
All you have to do is 1.) Be a follower of the blog (if you're not already, click the little "follow" button on the right hand column), 2.) Leave a comment with your name, e-mail address, and a description of how you'd wear the Oxfords. If you need inspiration, be sure to check out the Marais USA website, and check out the girls, their team, and their incredible selection of shoes! The giveaway will be closed September 1st, 2010. A winner will be selected at random.

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