Celebrity stylist Anita Patrickson grew up in Africa, influenced equally by the serene landscapes that exist outside and the design details that surrounded her inside. Now known for dressing stars like Julianne Hough, Chanel Iman, Ruby Rose, and Eiza Gonzalez, Patrickson travels often and sources the creative diversity and craftsmanship values that are found across the globe as a main source of inspiration. Today, she’s celebrating her breakout footwear line AMANU with an inaugural collection, and a pop-up shop in Los Angeles. Originally stemming from a trip to Capri, the brand is more of an experience than a label. When visiting, guests are welcomed to a no-frill space where they can choose from an array of selected materials. Then, artisans trained by an Italian master cobbler create bespoke sandals in minutes.
To hear more about AMANU, art, and travel, Whitewall spoke with Patrickson.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about AMANU and its first line.
ANITA PATRICKSON: I think of it as less of a “line” and more of an experience. It’s a sandal collection that has been curated by me but is essentially designed by the customer. You choose the style you want, colors and fabrics. Then one of our amazing shoe makers measures your foot, makes the sandal right there in about 15-20 minutes while you wait. You walk out with a truly customized, bespoke, beautiful pair of leather sandals that are perfectly fitted to your feet, in the fabrics and colors you choose.
WW: You were inspired by a trip to Capri and your background in styling to create the brand. Tell us a bit about that.
AP: As a celebrity stylist, I started to dread the “shoe part” of fittings for events like Coachella, where I knew my clients would be asking for sandals. It would honestly take about 10 sandals (all in their size) to find one that actually worked! The straps would be in the wrong place or they would be too loose or too tight or the color wasn’t exactly what we were hoping for. It was around that time that I attended a wedding in Capri. One afternoon we wandered into the adorable little shop and I got some sandals made. I was hooked! I couldn’t believe it was that simple and that much fun! I came to find out it’s not that simple, rather the shoemakers were incredibly skilled, but the process was addictive and I wanted to go back again and again and make something in every color and throw out all my overpriced, poorly fitting shoes.
WW: What type of experience do visitors get at AMANU that is special?
AP: The one aspect of this project that has been so much fun is that we have truly created something unlike anything else that exists. It’s not a Capri sandal or a regular shoe store. The moment you walk through the doors you are transported into another world and for the time you are in there the hope is, that you disconnect with the world and reconnect with an age-old craft. The human interaction and your creative decisions are what make this really special. You are being empowered by the choices you get to make and you are watching a beautiful shoe being crafted right before your eyes. With all the excess product and ‘fast fashion,’ this is truly a way to appreciate and connect with what you are consuming.
WW: Tell us a bit about your pop-up store, opening in L.A. soon.
AP: The pop up is in West Hollywood, at 605 West Knoll. This “Melrose High Street’ stretch is having such a fun moment and I love that people are strolling around, popping from store to store. We are accepting walk ins, but as a safety measure to avoid any waits we also have a booking system on our site. You can reserve an appointment just for you, or book some slots for yourself and a couple girlfriends! I’m so excited because there is nothing else like it that I have seen. It’s a huge departure from the usual shoe shopping experience and I’m really excited to see the customer’s reactions when they walk out with a one of a kind sandal that they’ve designed.
WW: What types of materials and design elements are found in the store that speak for the brand?
AP: I really love the simplicity of the brand as it stands right now. We just do sandals and we are doing it well. We are doing our best to become more and more environmentally friendly. I love the model as we endeavor in our “pursuit of less.” We make and cut only what we need and what is ordered. We do our best to waste nothing, we even create the labels for our bags from the sandal strap scraps. As we get up and running and move forward I hope we can improve on reducing our carbon footprint.
WW: Do you collect art, or travel often? If so, are either of these topics points of inspiration for you? If not, what is?
AP: I am really into art. In fact, my mother is an artist and I grew up watching her collage and create these incredible, huge, abstract pieces that are all over our house. In our bathroom at the store we have a piece of art by a dear friend and local L.A. artist, Pia Pack. Travel, however, is my first love. I hop on a plane or get in the car every chance I get. I love nothing more than exploring a new corner of the world. South Africa and Kenya, where I grew up and where my family is from, definitely plays a large role in the decor and vibe of the store and in the sandals and of course our campaign images.
WW: Tell us a bit about the cobblers that will be at the store. How did you find them, and why are they important to have?
AP: The shoemakers are the heart and soul of AMANU. They tell the story and are the very reason we exist. They are incredibly skilled and are true artists. We flew a cobbler over from Capri to train them for 6 weeks. They each have a background in leather work, but crafting sandals with this technique is a new skill set. 3 of the 4 shoemakers relocated to Los Angeles to work with AMANU. I feel so grateful to have found them, they truly are amazing. All in their 20s, they have such amazing energy and kindness in the way they work. They make the experience even better than anything I could have dreamt.