Kendall Miles Is the Black-Owned Shoe Brand That Wants to Make Luxury More Accessible
Words by Shreya Wankhade
With fashion, it can often feel like we are in a constant cycle of trying to figure out how we can elevate our wardrobes alongside the changing seasons, but in a world where trends easily come and go, the timelessness of a good pair of shoes will never change.
This is part of the motivation that drives Kendall Reynolds, the founder and creative director of luxury footwear brand Kendall Miles, which is available for wholesale on The Folklore Connect. Reynolds believes in the power of a good pair of shoes, and designs with this in mind while pushing boundaries along the way. “One of our founding principles at Kendall Miles is that Black women deserve luxury,” the brand says. “We believe in glorifying the importance of being the best, wanting the best, and doing the most.”
Reynolds, a Chicago native who taught herself how to design shoes, further immersed herself in the craft by training at the renowned footwear, leather goods and institution, Arsutoria in Milan, Italy. Afterwards, she relocated to Los Angeles, where she established Kendall Miles in 2015, which she runs alongside her mother and co-founder, Sandra. “As a luxury designer who designs for women in a male-dominated industry, building a team composed of Black women was a high priority,” Reynolds notes.
It was also important for Reynolds that her designs provide the highest quality. That’s why each pair of Kendall Miles shoes is manufactured in Florence, Italy, using only the finest and ethically sourced materials, from custom-dyed leathers and exotic skins to semi-precious hardware.
From the signature high-heeled Posh Mules, which come in multiple vibrant hues and adorned with plumes of ostrich feathers, to the voluminous Foxxy Flat and casual Miles Sneaker, each pair is designed to make an impact and boost the wearer’s confidence through a combination of comfort, luxury and quality.
For summer 2022, the brand’s Denim collection uses the popular fabric to create a range of shoes that can spice up any wardrobe while remaining in style for years to come. It is this innovative and boundary-pushing aesthetic that has seen Reynolds lauded by American interdisciplinary artist Theaster Gates as an exemplar of Black excellence for providing “an elegance, luxury and femininity for Black women”. Earlier this year, Reynolds was selected as one of 14 Black creatives in the inaugural cohort of the Prada Group’s Dorchester Industries Experimental Design Lab, a three-year program that financially supports and amplifies Black entrepreneurs and their businesses.
Declaring its mission as becoming the first mainstream Black women-owned luxury footwear company to bring Italian craftsmanship to the modern shopper, one of the brand’s founding principles is the notion that Black women deserve luxury, too, and the importance of being the best, wanting the best, and doing the most. “My designs are very much dependent on understanding the needs of Kendall Miles consumers. I want my designs to be the source that allows women to see that luxury pieces are their birthright because luxury is in our DNA,” Reynolds says. Putting her community and consumers at the heart of her work has been key to Reynolds’ success, which has seen her shoes grace the feet of Rihanna, Lizzo and Lupita N’yongo.
Since its inception, Kendall Miles has been committed to producing high-quality shoes, built on the belief that luxury footwear should offer durability, versatility, functionality, and accessibility, all as a family-run, independent business. The brand’s all-Black and women-led team is certainly aware of the pressures and barriers it takes to succeed in the fashion industry but they are more than ready for the challenges, and will be “well-heeled” along the way.