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Joan And David Shoes - Joan & David Shoes Influence the Industry

designer design comfort joan’s

If diamonds really are a girl’s best friend, then shoes must be a close second place. It seems a woman can never have too many shoes. They need a different type shoe for different purposes and each type of shoe in a variety of styles and colors.

Joan Helpern, the designer of Joan & David Shoes, might be partly responsible for women daring to have so many dreams about shoes. She wanted to wear comfortable shoes that would still be stylish and look professional in the workplace. When she discovered that such a shoe didn’t exist, she took on the task of designing the type of shoes she had in mind. The result of her efforts was the foundation of the company and the Joan & David Shoes label.

Joan & David Shoes offered women’s shoes exclusively when the business opened. Based on Joan’s first shoe design, a revamped version of the Oxford style shoe is still for sale. Joan Helpern is credited with the first designer flat shoes for women. She wanted to create a timeless design that would appeal to professional women. Prior to her breakthrough and the opening of Joan & David Shoes, comfortable shoes for women meant tennis shoes or loafers while dressy or stylish shoes involved a heel of varying heights. She succeeded in combining the comfort of casual shoes and the style of high heels for Joan David Shoes.

Joan & David Shoes are made in Italy where Joan found craftsmen willing to work on her customized shoe design in limited editions. The styles Joan created involved comfort first and focused on interesting textures rather than bold colors. She wasn’t interested in being flashy or making a fashion statement. She was interested in designing a shoe that a woman could wear in a professional office then go straight to a her child’s soccer game, run to the grocery store and back to work while wearing the same comfortable, stylish and classy looking shoe.

When the company started out, Joan was the president and designer and husband David was the chairman. Joan & David Shoes initially were sold at high-end private boutiques with their New York store opening in 1985. Two years later a lower priced design was introduced to the market to allow more customers the opportunity to experience the comfort and style of Joan’s designs. Joan & David’s Shoes went on to sign a licensing agreement with designer Anne Taylor. Calvin Klein Shoes also did business with the Helperns. Joan & David Shoes are sold all over the world known as Joan David Shoes, Joan & David, Joan & David Too, and Joan & David Couture. A men’s line, accessories, clothing and sunglasses eventually joined the label.

In 2000 Joan & David Shoes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the company was purchased by Maxwell Shoe Company. By that time Joan’s designs had already permanently influenced the market for women’s shoes. A woman with no formal design training, Joan Helpern developed her original concept of her own line of shoes and changed a world-wide industry in the process. She was named Designer of the Year in 1986, received the Golden Slipper award in 1988, the Fashion Footwear Association of New York Award in 1990 and several others.

Circa by Joan & David Shoes are available at stores such as Macy’s, Nordstrom and other fine department stores. They are also sold on line. Joan’s designs still feature comfort and style in limited editions reflecting a lower average price under $100 a pair.

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over 6 years ago

Is Joan and David in business yet and are the shoes still hand made in Italy?