Shoe line Katz and Birds by Israeli designer Hadas Katz epitomizes functional whimsy. Her loafers are a step up from basic loafers, with eye-catching hand embroidered patterns like boats, birds or flowers. Some boast tassels while others sparkle with beaded creatures affixed to the top. You sure can't buy these at Macy's! That, of course, is what makes this quirky chic line a new favorite of mine.
Her Etsy store pays such close attention to detail that even their listings have the most thorough shoe measurement help I've ever seen. Upon measuring my foot I'm sad to say I don't fit into her smallest EU 36 (US size 6) since I'm a teeny tiny size 5, but hopefully some of you normal or larger footed girls can get in on the action.
Being different is a good thing, so I'm pleased to share our very first interview and brand spotlight with Hadas Katz of Tel Aviv. Also, I think we can all agree the play on her name is adorable!
Where are you from?
I live in a city called Givataym, Israel. It's close to Tel Aviv but it's more peaceful.
What led you to design shoes? Specifically vegan shoes?
I am a Shenkar college graduate majoring fashion design. During my schooling I used to create clothes inspired by nature or speaking about animals in some form. These subjects are important to me. Nature makes me relax, it's beautiful, inspiring, and it makes you value the little things in life. I can enjoy little rays of sun when lying under a tree, or a breeze that makes you think some romantic thought about something that happened in the past.
Animals are also a big part of this world. They are innocent, and the way they can communicate with us and with each other- is magical to me. I imagine the hidden world that humans don’t always see, a world where animals have emotion and a character. I believe Disney's classical movies were a big influence to me :)
Many people express their concern for animals through words, explaining facts about animal welfare. I am a bit different: I express myself visually through emotion in the form of art and design.
I love to design shoes (and clothing) because I believe fashion is a big part of our lives. It can change our confidence and influences our moods. It has a huge impact on how we feel and how much magic we surround ourselves in. That is what fashion and animals have in common- the ability to touch our feelings.
I want women, whenever looking in the mirror or down on their shoes, to either smile or have a glimpse of a soft atmosphere and magic. This outlook is always side by side with the fashion that's upbeat.
What's your shoe making process?
At first I have to get inspired by something, so I search through the web for something that is important to me or that will touches me. After I find it I make sketches and choose my favorites.
I make embroidery samples and collect materials. I also sketch the shoe shape, heel shape and pattern. Then I go to consult with my friends that will give me their views and opinions. When a style is chosen I use the shoe mold to get the pattern according to it. I go to the city for the heels and sole factory to order some samples according to my design. I make the embroidery for a few pairs and cut the rest of the pieces according to the pattern.
Making the embroidery is really the longest part . When making the fox bead figure, for instance, I use a photograph of a fox and use several shades of beads in order to create it. It's like painting with a needle really. I must love the expression on its face, otherwise I will do it all over again. I sew each bead individually and it must look perfect to me even if it takes a bit longer.
When I make the embroidery I am never alone. My cat is always curious about the beads and threads. Even by the sewing machine!
When all the pieces are cut and ready I sew the shoe together. Then I go to Tel Aviv to the shoe maker that does the final steps like putting on the sole. I give a few pairs to my friends and family to see how they feel in them and if they are comfortable. Then I take pictures of the shoes by themselves and on a model, and upload them to my store on Etsy.
How would you describe your style?
I would say my style is romantic, gentle, feminine, comfortable, and emotional with a feeling and a story behind it.
Who do you see wearing your shoes?
I really hope I can touch other women that connect with nature also. I imagine a gentle type of girl, that is curious about the world and loves art , good food and nature.
What are your favorite places to eat in Tel Aviv?
Oh!!! A very good question! I love food… I believe Israel is one of the most amazing places to visit in culinary terms. You can find everything from around the world. The kitchen is very rich with different origins and the combinations are very creative. I love to learn how to make every ethnic dish I can get my hands on and turn it vegan. There are many vegan bloggers that do just that. In general, the vegan population in Israel is very big, which I am very proud of!
My favorite restaurant at the moment is Vong- it's a Vietnamese restaurant, They make exotic dishes with tons of flavor and freshness, which can easily turn into vegan dishes.
Nothing beat's folk cooking. My mother- in- law can make traditional dishes that have been in her family forever. The best one is called "kube", a common food in Iraq, the Middle East and parts of the Caucasus. It is a filled dumpling that can be boiled or fried. Its outer shell made with semolina or cracked wheat flour, rice or potatoes. We cook it in a vegetable soup and for filling we use a vegan alternative for meat, like mushrooms and nuts and fried onions.
What's next for Katz and Birds?
My main purpose is to make lives happier. I hope to continue doing so with the shoes and hopefully with clothing, bags and accessories as well.
I hope you're all in love with Katz and Birds as much as I am. Whimsy, romance and special details are what make my world go round! Her flats are comfy, yet add an individual touch to nearly any outfit. Comfy can be chic- animals don't need to suffer for fashion and neither should we!
For once, being a loaf(er) doesn't have to be a bad thing ;)
All images courtesy of Katz and Birds