At the moment I’m at the pointy end of starting Chiqui Alta, a shoe brand for tall women. I’m getting lots of questions about why I chose to launch with ballet flats? They usually answer rhetorically with – “because tall girls wear flats, don’t they?”
I feel like I’m above all that.
The truth is when I was dreaming up the initial designs, it all came down to having to choose one style. Of course, there will be more styles (said nervously) in the future, and there will be more freedom to challenge the likes of Prada or Channel, but I had to make a stand, and I’m taking my first tall baby steps.
Chiqui Alta is a shoe brand dedicated to tall feet for urban goddesses that stand proud on their own two feet, and want shoes that help then shine.
Life’s too short to spend days researching the best places to buy bigger shoes only to find they’re all black or look as though you are prepping for a hike across outback Australia.
I’m somewhere between a 42 and a 43 and it’s hard to find modern, cool shoes. I know tall girls of all shapes and sizes find it hard to get shoes made for them.
After talking to my tall friends and listening to their preferences for different shoes, it was clear we all wanted different shoes. Yet the one shoe that we almost all wanted, wore the most and found hard to get, was a well-fitting, soft, all-leather ballet flat.
Friends sent me their beat-up, ugly ballet flats that they wore out of necessity. The common theme was – “There isn’t a choice, so I get what I can.”
We sat around deliberating shoes and envied the designer flats that stopped at the ever petite 41. We poured more wine and gushed over brands such as Bottega Veneta, The Row and Mansur Gavriel.
We wanted a shoe you could turn to all year round, that could be worn every day. It needed to suit our lives as professionals, students, mothers, friends – whatever we did, we all did a lot of it. And we wanted our shoes to look great, be as easy to put on as flip flops, as comfortable as trainers and can take you from running across town, picking up the kids or after-work drinks.
And so, the Hightail was born. The tall chicas flat.
The hightail is designed higher up the foot to house our beautiful feet and limit the toe cleavage, comfortably. It works for both wider and narrower feet, giving broader feet room in buttery soft leather that moulds to your feet, while still providing support. Narrower feet benefit too, with more “shoe” than regular flats, it helps to keep your feet in.
The back pull-tab racing stripe actually works. You can put your finger through the tab and pull on your shoe if you need it. One of my testers said she thread ribbons through the finger hole in the tab and tied it around her ankle, so it looked like a real ballet shoe. (This is an excellent tip for people with skinny feet).
Also, the pitch of the heal is 1.5cm, so it’s a little higher than traditional flats and more comfortable for long calves, used to standing all day.
Finally, the shoe itself has been designed around my real size 42 foot. The industry standard for making shoes is to cast from lasts that are 37. A podiatrist told me what this has meant many bigger shoes grow in length but not in width, and this is what causes foot problems. Chiqui Altas have their own lasts (shoe moulds), and we’ve paid close attention to making sure the width is in proportion to the length.
So, the long and tall of it is simple. We think and breathe tall feet (peuh), and we love shoes. Chiqui Alta is here. Let’s Hightail it!
What’s your favourite everyday shoe? Why do you like it? Send me a picture.