Shoes for Princesses and Cheeky Monkeys
By Antonia Villalonga. Camper for Kids Design Manager
I’ve always been surrounded by shoes. Coming from a town like Inca means that shoes are very much part of everyday life. They are part of the culture of this region of Mallorca, as it has been a centre for craftsmanship, particularly footwear, for over 100 years. In my particular case, I started out studying fashion design. Then I travelled to London to specialize in footwear design. When I returned from the UK, I started working with other brands and then twelve years ago, almost by chance, I started working for Camper.
I started working on children’s shoes when Camper for Kids was set up seven years ago and I have continued to work on this collection ever since. The first thing I thought about when I started working on Camper for Kids was how to develop iconic products like Pelotas or Peu to make them suitable for children. We already had the design but we needed to translate the original concept of the shoe and adapt it to children’s specific requirements.
The main difference when designing shoes for children is that, above all, it is essential for the shoes to do their job properly. They have to be easy to wear, to take on and off, comfortable and above all suited to the purpose for which they were designed. Obviously we also work on the aesthetics but the most important thing is to ensure that the technical design is successful.
Shoes must not interfere with the natural development of the foot and the growth of the child, which means they have to be rigid enough to hold the foot while also providing freedom of movement and allowing it to grow. Finding this balance can be a very complicated task.
Our Kids collection is divided into three groups: Babies, First Walkers and Kids, because you have to work differently with each of these three groups. The baby collection needs protection for the foot: shoes made of very soft and smooth leather, because they are not actually walking yet. For children who have started to walk, the collection becomes more technically complex because they grow very quickly. The foot is not fully developed and requires some very important features, including back support, space between the toes and very flexible shoes.
As a mother I tend to recommend that children choose their own shoes, because they choose according to some very important criteria. Firstly, they choose the shoes they like and secondly, they choose styles that are easier to put on and take off. Once they reach a certain age, it’s essential for children to be able to put on and take off their shoe themselves, as it gives them more freedom. Clearly you also have to consider the child’s personality. If a child likes playing football you’ll have to choose a product that protects the toes, while those who like dressing up and being a “little princess” will need a very different kind of shoe. The good thing is that our Kids collection is very diverse.
Our winter collection is always focused on Back to School shoes. For example, this season we have reinterpreted our classic Pelotas range adding more protection for the toes and a softer rubber sole that provides more grip. We have also added number of other iconic ranges including Beetle and Peu.
Our popular ballerinas range has been updated for winter making them more flexible and providing greater protection for the foot. My personal favourite is always our Twins collection which, as ever, has a great sense of fun, individuality and personality.