Dynamic duo Mary Alice Malone and Roy Luwolt launched their breakout label Malone Souliers in 2014. Since then, the business partners have captured the attention of retailers and celebrities, with an aesthetic tailored to the modern-day woman.
The brand has resonated, said designer Malone, because it appeals to the female intellect as much as it does her senses. “As women, we want to be beautiful and powerful, but we also want to be greeted with manners and have someone hold open the door for us,” said Malone, a former equestrian prodigy who trained in the Cordwainers program at the London College of Fashion. “The shoes must have a simplicity, and they also must appeal to that complex woman in all of her aspects.”
Among the high-powered women who have become fans are Beyoncé, Amal Clooney and Jessica Chastain.
Retailers readily acknowledge the label has quickly evolved from startup to serious contender in the luxury market. The brand is now in more than 350 global points of sale.
“We have loved Malone Souliers’ collections from the beginning,” said Matches Fashion buying manager Cassie Smart, an early adopter of the brand. “We were drawn to the great use of color and shapes inspired by vintage and architectural design. The brand has a very strong DNA and a creative, intellectual elegance.”
The best example is the brand’s popular 100-millimeter Maureen mule, with its pointed toe and contrasting straps. “They established a very recognizable aesthetic with the Maureen that is very feminine and elegant,” said Nayla Touma, VP and DMM for footwear at Bergdorf Goodman.
Aesthetically speaking, brand executives are constantly refining their offering. For example, there is a new 45-millimeter kitten heel coming out next spring. What’s more, Malone Souliers is counting on collaborations. Among its more noteworthy: an ongoing capsule collection with fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic, now in its third season.
“Roy and Mary Alice have an unwavering attention to detail and a complex understanding of femininity, which for me never fails to enhance my collections,” said Ilincic.
And company executives have hinted that a new collaboration with a ready-to-wear line is in the works, with the
goal to launch next year. But it is the business savvy of co-founder Luwolt — whose previous jobs have included serving as a luxury brand strategist, asset manager and working on one of the campaigns for former President Barack Obama — that has put Malone Souliers on the path for financial success.
“You have to make sure your checks and balances come out, ensure you’re first banking on the equity of the brand before you bank on financial equity; spend no money until you have to,” he said.
In addition, Luwolt advocates for a corporate environment free of bureaucracy. “I don’t care about seniority,” he said. “If you have a good idea, I’m going to shut up and listen to you.”