In 2015, Sarah Staudinger and George Augusto created STAUD in Los Angeles. The aim was to design innovative pieces for contemporary women, focused on forgoing trends with modern, timeless classics. Flattering cuts and sophisticated shapes followed with tops, dresses, skirts, and more complemented by an array of must-haves—transparent bags, bucket hats, sunglass necklaces, chain belts, and now, shoes.
In late February, the brand launched its first-ever shoe collection. Complete with six dynamic styles, the line is a comprehensive selection of footwear for women who are redefining what makes for a sensible and chic shoe. The offering is a simple elaboration on how the brand is continuing to transcend trends, from strappy sandals to wedged slides.
Whitewall spoke with Staudinger about the evolution of STAUD, adding exciting shoes into an everyday wardrobe, and how she lives with art.
WHITEWALL: Tell us a bit about the creation of STAUD, and why you and Augusto wanted to establish a new label.
SARAH STAUDINGER: We founded STAUD because we felt that it was difficult to find something that wasn’t overly trend-driven or had a timeless quality at an accessible price point. We saw a gap in the market for sophisticated, well-priced clothing and also felt really strongly that the landscape was feeling stagnant and repetitive. It was important to us to keep it refined and to not only create product that felt unique, but content that was equally as unique and thoughtful as the product. We put a lot of time and thought into our content creation, messaging, and overall aesthetics so that our customers connect to our product on a more emotional level.
WW: Tell us a bit about it transitioning into footwear. Why was that a step you wanted to take?
SS: It was truly just the natural progression of the brand. The timing feels right. I feel strongly about bringing the same sentiment to our bags to shoes. There is an emotional response to the “perfect” shoe, or accessory, that I feel like is missing from the market especially at an accessible price point. I wanted to create versatile footwear that is playful, chic and fresh. The gap I saw was a combination of those things but ultimately my goal was to provide women with a shoe that can be worn day to night, be dressed up or dressed down, and that adds some excitement to their wardrobe.
WW: Tell us a bit about Billie, Gita, Gina, Astrid, Keith, and Rio. Who are the names after? What does the diversity of styles allow for?
SS: To me, they are all timeless and fun. We took elements from our handbags and incorporated them into our footwear. The Bille wedge has a PVC strap calling back to the Shirley, the Keith comes in our classic croc embossed leather, and the colorways sit with our Spring 2019 ready-to-wear pallet—a balance between neutrals and pops of color. The Rio is our first rendition of the flip flop. I wanted to keep it as classic and as traditional as possible, but with a subtle update. Everything is comfortable, practical, and you can dress them up or down. That’s a huge part of our brands identity across the board, and you see that concept in our handbags, ready-to-wear, and now in our shoes.
WW: Do you have a favorite handbag piece from your new Spring 2019 collection?
SS: The Hutton is my new favorite. The shape is so unique it really moves beyond the typical handbag. I am also loving our Lincoln bag as it not only functions as a handbag, but also as a jewelry box, makeup case, or a travel accessory. It is the type of bag you don’t put away in your closet. You leave it out as décor, or at least I do. It is currently living and thriving on my dresser full of my necessities in a very organized way. I am currently using it as a bit of home decor on my dresser. They’re both vintage-inspired bags with an architectural element.
WW: You lived in New York before moving back to your home state of California. What does STAUD offer women living that parallel, bi-coastal life? How is the brand bridging a gap like that?
SS: I like to think we bring the best of both cities into our collections. The laid-back ease of L.A. and the practicality and functionality of New York City. Bringing a little more of elevated fashion to the idea of California dressing but still keeping it easy and not fussy.
WW: Tell us a bit about how the brand has evolved to include apparel and accessories.
SS: Our ready-to-wear collection has developed in a big way. As the brand has matured so have the collections. We have gotten to a place where we love taking risks but have a language and really know our customer. It’s nice to see how they have responded and grown with us, in a way.
WW: Tell us a bit about the creative process behind your designs. Does it begin with a sketch, color, fabric, or perhaps travel inspiration?
SS: It begins with an idea, a mood or a feeling, and then I discuss with my design team and we show each other different forms of inspiration. We bounce ideas back and forth until we have a complete story that can move across all our categories and take different shapes. Usually we think of a girl—where she is, what is going on, what does her entire day or week look like, what time is she living in, etc.
WW: Where do you go for fashion and design inspiration?
SS: I like to watch older films, read through vintage magazines, vintage shop (probably too often), and visit libraries whenever I can.
WW: Do you have art in your home?
SS: I am currently moving houses, and in transition, I bought a Cassi Namoda piece. She’s an up and coming artist I am really into. I also love Emma Amos and Cara Walker.
WW: In a time when social media can be inspiring, do you have any favorite Instagram accounts?