September 07 2013

Alejandro Ingelmo: A 4th Generation Cobbler with a Flair for the Avant-Garde

New York-The Standard Interview

Cuban rooted, Miami raised, fourth-generation cobbler, and bonafide friend of The Standard, Alejandro Ingelmo is set to show in the High Line Room for his fifth consecutive season. From Ingelmo, a CFDA Vogue Fund finalist, we expect another racy collection of pencil-thin stilettos and über cool sneakers, all in rare and psychedelic materials. (Justin Timberlake performed in a pair, of sneakers that is, at the VMAs last month). We went over to Ingelmo's studio/store on Wooster St. to get a sneak peak at the collection, which includes his first-ever running shoe.

What’s the inspiration for SS14?
I love to work with metallics and light, which plays such an important part in the materials and in the silhouette. There is something very geometric about it. I’m always playing around with a certain shape but taking that shape and giving it life in different silhouettes. A lot of light colors, a lot of texture.

From the S/S 2014 Collection

When's the last possible moment you can make a change to one of your designs?
If it’s just pattern work then maybe a month. If it involves new lasts, new heels, new constructions, new shapes, then that’s like a three month process.

Does that take some of the stress away from showing for you because all of the samples are done in advance?
No, because I usually find something to be stressed out about no matter what it is.

Why do you like showing at The Standard?
It’s amazing as a designer to be able to come into such a beautiful space and create it, recreate it, and every season do it a little differently.

Alejandro Ingelmo presentation in Feb. 2012

So what’s the plan this season for the High Line Room?
Man it’s so last minute! It’s based on communication and expression and how that’s often conveyed.

What exactly would that look like?
Just think about how we communicate and see things...

How did the collaboration with Kenny Scharf come about?
That was through Paul Kasmin Gallery and they were looking for someone very New York who made cool sneakers, so they contacted me. I was thrilled!

Were you familiar with Kenny’s work before that?
Yes. I was born and raised in Miami. I think he [Scharf] has a place there, and I remember that he had done something in one of the buildings. He used to drive this really long Chevrolet convertible to the beach. It was really beat up. He was definitely the only one on the beach with that car.

What age were you when this was happening?
21, 22, 23?

What inspired the move to New York?
Being exposed to the artists and music industry hanging around Miami Beach, not to mention the New Yorkers coming down for vacation, obviously rubbed off.

If you weren’t a fourth-generation cobbler would you still be a shoe designer?
Yes, I came to love shoes on my own terms. I always wanted to do something creative, and having this history, it was kind of like well... I love sketching and drawing, and taking something from my imagination and using my hands to built it, to bring it to life.

I’ve always loved architecture too, so I thought about studying that....I think shoes and architecture have a lot of similarities. You’re building something up. It’s a structure. It holds something important.

What architects are you fond of?
I love John Pawson. I like Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid. She finally got to make something! For so many years it was all conceptual and finally someone gave her the chance to actually make something, and it was so expensive... but now you can finally see her work in reality.

Zaha Hadid's Galaxy SOHO in Beijing

A question about your personal style: You stick to the gray t-shirt. Why?
I just feel comfortable in a gray t-shirt. I think when you have something that fits well that you feel comfortable in, you are more inspired and free.

Is there one thing as a designer you are really trying to say?
There is always something that comes back to heritage and family, and I think that is really important about who you are. Just taking that to something new and trying to have a modern and progressive take and try to be a little different, not always do what everyone else is doing.

Right this way ...