“Even designing comfortable shoes is a kind of calling.”

Published in The Good Life magazine | November 2016

Hagit Ronen, Teva Naot’s design director, explains how to keep on top of the latest trends and reinvent yourself in the challenging world of comfortable shoes.

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Hagit Ronen

Hagit Ronen, Teva Naot’s design director, has been with the company for 26 years, yet it seems that her passion, excitement, and fascination with this field’s many creative challenges have never faltered for a moment.

Ronen stumbled into the world of footwear design almost entirely by accident. Her husband came from Kibbutz Neot Mordechai, so she joined him there and began working in the kibbutz’s famous footwear factory. After a while, she realized that she had fallen headover-heels in love with the profession, said “I do!”, and traveled all the way to Italy to study at the renowned Arsutoria School, without even knowing a single word in Italian. “Most of my classmates were from families who had been in the footwear industry for generations. I was the only one with almost no experience or knowledge, but because the course was highly technical I was still able to study there, despite not actually understanding the language.”

When Ronen returned to Israel, she was greeted by brand new billboards showcasing shoes she had designed before she left, but the factory was in turmoil. During Ronen’s absence, it had been assailed by many difficulties, not least of which were the kibbutz financial crisis and key management changes. “I still remember that we weren’t sure how we would pay our employees at the end of the month. But we got through it and now everything has changed.”

Thanks to?

“There were a number of reasons, but I think that, at the heart of it all, there was someone who was able to really empathize with what we – as real human beings living in the modern world – are experiencing today. People want to buy products from someone they can rely on and believe in. And that’s precisely what Teva Naot represents. Most of the marketing messages we have stood by in the past are still relevant today, especially that constant message of reliability and stability. Our staff has always believed in the product, its philosophy, and its niche in the world. Today, we enjoy a better quality of life, so living healthier lives is the right thing to do – the results speak for themselves.”

Ronen works alongside five other designers, each responsible for a different field. It’s a complex process, including not only the initial concept and sketches, but also the crucial practical steps: cutting fabric, sampling (“settling” the shoe on the foot to make sure it’s comfortable), and matching the shoe to each type of foot.

Describe a typical day in the life of a shoe designer.

“Generally speaking, we have two major collections each year: summer and winter. But you have to understand that while we’re discussing the 2016-2017 winter season, which hasn’t even started yet, we’re already beginning to work on our summer 2018 collection. It’s challenging because we still don’t know how the public will react to our newest designs, which will soon be on display. Purely in terms of numbers, each collection has 35 new designs, with a different focus for each market. The Israeli market likes a more natural look, while Americans, for example, expect a little more glitz and glamor.

“On top of that, we’re also developing new lines, sometimes two per season. This means a whole lot of brainstorming sessions with our great design team, working with the latest trend forecasts, and finally choosing the real spirit of the line: the story we want to tell during each season.”

How do you deal with the challenge of juggling fashionable and comfortable design styles?

“It’s definitely a challenge. We design a wide range of products in various quantities, which allows us to preserve Naot’s distinctive DNA, while also adapting ourselves to current trends. If, for example, pointy-toe shoes are the latest hit, we might interpret that by designing a shoe that’s pointier than our traditional styles. We don’t ignore trends, but it’s more important for us to maintain our unique identity and incorporate our own essence into whatever is currently fashionable.”

And where do you think the footwear industry is heading right now – stilettos or comfort?

“It’s no secret that comfort is becoming more and more ubiquitous. It’s incredible to see how much the casual look is taking over the fashion world, even at the major Italian shows. The division will always remain, but there’s no doubt that comfortable shoes are becoming more sophisticated.”

“Comfort is becoming more and more ubiquitous. It’s incredible to see how much the casual look is taking over the fashion world, even at the major Italian shows. The division will always remain, but there’s no doubt that comfortable shoes are becoming more sophisticated.”

Crossing the generational divide is also very typical for Naot, where a 15-year-old girl and her grandmother can wear the same style of sandals…

“Absolutely, and I think that, so far as that goes, the whole world is changing. At the last fashion show I attended in Milan, I met an 80-year-old woman who was wearing ripped jeans and sneakers, and looked amazing. As ideas about what’s appropriate to wear at what age become less clearly defined, we’re seeing younger people going to secondhand stores and buying clothes that our grandparents wore. If we add the idea that the casual approach is becoming fashionable in and of itself, because it’s cool to look like you’re not trying too hard, then you arrive at exactly the same place we’re trying to reach. Girls, mothers, grandmothers – nothing is designed for any specific age group, because our designs are for people of any age who appreciate comfort, are confident in themselves, and appreciate quality and a good life.

“It’s also linked to the rising life expectancy: we’re going to be around for a long time, so we should get the most out of it.”

 I’m hearing some kind of calling. Feminism, perhaps?

“There’s definitely a greater mission. Our US distributor always say that we’re not making shoes – we’re making the world a better place. People who wear good, supportive, well-fitting shoes get used to the feel of it and you could almost say they’re learning to walk again. That, by the way, is the perspective that drives all of our designs: our shoes must be so good and comfortable that we want our loved ones to wear them. Those are the exact standards we aspire to.”

 Anything else you want to add?

“Like many others in Israel, our field of manufacturing and professional crafts is becoming increasingly marginalized. Anyone can import products, but there is a wellspring of Israeli creativity, character, and innovation that simply cannot be found anywhere else. I feel that this just isn’t appreciated enough, which is deeply unfortunate. I look at the Italians, and how proud they are of their footwear industry, how they protect it and safeguard it in their own country. But here in Israel there are so many difficulties for our manufacturers to overcome.

“Those who simply give up on us are just making it even more difficult for local industries to thrive here. We have a lot to be proud of, and it’s up to all of us to protect it.”

 

Naotics of the Month: November

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  1. Christine Flores is looking too cute in our Kayla sandals. Shop the Kayla at Simons Shoes.
  2. Ann Wingrove, one of our very own sales reps, is pictured in our Gazania boots! These boots are on trend with a casual industrial look. Purchase these boots at Schuler Shoes.
  3. Lifestyle blogger Chelsea from Chow Down USA wore our Taku boots while on a trip to the Big Apple. These shoes kept her so comfortable all weekend long, even after walking 5+ miles each day. These popular booties can be found at Dardano’s Shoes.
  4. Fashion blogger Hailey from Discourse of a Divine Diva is looking fabulous in our Unicorn sandals. Check out the selection at Morgans Shoes.

Do you want to be featured as next month’s #Naotic of the month? Send us a picture of you in your favorite Naots!

#ShopSmall with Local Independent Naot Retailers!

With #ShopSmall Saturday right around the corner, we decided to show some love to a few of our favorite independent Naot retailers. Each store has a unique background that brings something extraordinary to their local community, whether it be a philanthropic cause or an on-site podiatrist. But one thing is for sure, the stores are extremely proud to be selling Naot Footwear to their beloved customers. Keep reading below to see why each store has a special place in their community!

Little’s Shoes

5850 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA | 412-521-3530

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Little’s Shoes a family-owned business located in the heart of Pittsburgh. While being the second generation at Little’s Shoes and fourth generation in the shoe business, it is safe to say the family knows their shoes and how to service customers. In fact, they take pride in providing the best service by getting to know their customers, having a good time with them and treating them like friends.

One of Little’s Shoes’ most memorable moments was when they hosted their first #NaotGivesBack event this past summer. For each pair of Naots purchased, the store donated two pairs to the Squirrel Hill Food Pantry. Because each purchase resulted in a donation, there was an incredible reaction from the community and Littles was able to donate 100 pairs of shoes.

Dardano’s Shoes

1550 S. Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO | 877-DARDANO

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Dardano’s Shoes is a family-owned business in downtown Denver, which first opened its doors in 1938. Almost 80 years, 4 generations and a large expansion later, the business remains strong today. At Dardano’s, not only will you find one of the largest selections of comfort footwear, but they have an incredible staff of skilled fit professionals that will take the time to assist you with whatever footwear needs you may have.

The store’s staff is so spot on that their customers keep coming back for more. One of their customers is a true Naotic, purchasing three pairs of Naots in a single day. Not long after, she brought in her husband and two sons to come in to try on her favorite brand. It’s safe to say they were extremely pleased as they walked out the store  with the men’s Pilot and Chief. A month later the youngest son came into the store after getting back from a 3-week excursion through Europe.  He was looking for a 2nd color in the Chief because it was the only shoe he wore on his trip. Being #Naotic truly does run in the family!

SHOP NOW: http://dardanos.com/women-s/shop-by-brand-women-s/naot.html

Mar-Lou Shoes

5471 Mayfield Road, Lyndhurst, OH | 440-449-SHOE

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Mar-Lou Shoes was born to solve Marcia Lou Unger’s dilemma of having to fit her size 10 1/2 narrow feet. The store has now grown into one of the largest shoe stores in Ohio and by far the one with the largest selection of fashionable, hard-to-find sizes for men and women. The assortment of footwear, the knowledge of the staff and the dedication to finding the perfect fit defines Mar-Lou Shoes. 

One proud moment for the store was the #NaotGivesBack event this past March. For every pair of Naots tried on, one pair was donated to the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities. The turnout was incredible, having customers come in from all across town just to participate in the heartwarming event. It truly brought out the best in the Cleveland community.

SHOP NOW: http://marloushoes.com/shop/brands/women/naot

Snyder’s Shoes

101 E. Ludington Avenue, Ludington, MI | 231-845-6346

 397 River Street, Manistee, MI | 231-723-3383

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Snyder’s Shoes first opened in Michigan in 1938 by a young entrepreneur, CR (Bud) Snyder. Bud brought a vision of quality merchandise, proper fit and customer service which became the foundation of the store’s success. What makes them stand a part from the rest is the fact that there is always a certified podiatrist on hand and a repair facility serving both locations. Not only is the store extremely family friendly, but they welcome furry four-legged friends too. This goes to show  how the staff at Snyder’s goes out of their way to leave a valuable and good impression with every customer by treating them as friends, not just consumers.

Giving back to the community is also a big priority for the store. Along with hosting #NaotGivesBack events, you can find Snyder’s participating in breast cancer awareness events throughout the month of October. This year during the “Paint the Town Pink” event, Snyder’s donated 10% of all sales to the local healthcare foundation that organized the event.

To find a local independent Naot retailer in your community please contact us.

Naotics of the Month: October

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  1. Stuart Brazell is wearing our fabulous Kayla sandals at The Grove near West Hollywood. She owns the Kaylas in more than one color! These best sellers can be found at Morgan’s Shoes.
  2. Claudia Candelas is pictured with our Levanto boots while traveling in Spain. These boots are perfect for a fall to winter transition, which can be purchased at Simons Shoes.
  3. Rock and Rose Clothes took her Canaan wedges for a weekend getaway in Las Vegas. The comfortable wedge had her feet feeling comfy while walking the strip all day long. These can be purchased at Eneslow.
  4. Kristina paired her Tiaki shoes with this little black dress for the perfect “athlesiure” look which is a huge trend. Get yourself a pair at Dardano’s.

Do you want to be featured as next month’s Naotic of the month? Send us a picture of you in your favorite Naots!

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Fall in Love with Naot Footwear

While it’s been a little bittersweet for those that live in the middle and northern parts of the country to say goodbye to their sandals, they’re also welcoming all that fall fashion has to offer – starting with their feet first. If you’ve ever worn a pair of Naots, you know how delightful they feel on your feet as soon as you put them on. To welcome fall and introduce you to some of our newer styles and colors, we’ve put together this ‘Fall Shoe Guide’ to highlight some of our favorites.

Naot Avila

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Our Avila boots (also pictured above) treat your feet like royalty with their pampering suede footbed and snug fit supporting your ankles. Dress them up with tights and a tunic or down with skinny jeans, you’ll want to wear these with just about everything!

Fit: Medium Width

Shop it at Simons Shoes.

Naot Luga

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This adorable mary jane style shoe comes in four different colors and features our removable Koru footbed. This is a great travel shoe, definitely one you can wear all day because of the flexibility, arch support and shock absorption.

Fit: Medium

Shop it at Simons Shoes.

Naot Helm

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These lightweight ankle booties have Naotics everywhere singing their praises because of their style and comfort. They feature double sided zippers, making it extremely easy to slip on and off and when they’re on, they hug your ankle just enough so there’s no sliding around.

Fit: Medium

Shop it at Simons Shoes.

Naot Celesta

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If you have a slightly wider foot, our casually chic Celesta shoe is for you. It is made with our removable Allegro footbed and the faux buckle Velcro closures adjust for a perfect fit.

Fit: Wide Width

Shop it at Simons Shoes.

Naot Kirei

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Year after year, the Kirei remains one of our top selling shoes. Highly recommended by podiatrists and doctors, this style tends to be very popular with travelers, teachers or just for everyday wear. It’s not uncommon to own several pairs as it’s available in 11 different colors.

Fit: Medium and Wide Width options

Shop it at Simons Shoes.

Naot Gazania

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Our Gazania lace-up boot is a new style that is fun, funky and of course, super comfortable! It features a zipper on the inside of the boot so you won’t need to constantly tighten the laces each time you put them on. This rugged chic look pairs well with jeans, leggings and even a simple little black dress with tights.

Fit: Medium

Shop it at Simons Shoes.

Naot Boreas

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Available in both black and brown, our Boreas ankle boot could just be the fall shoe you’ve been dreaming of. It’s lightweight and also features a side zipper for easy accessibility. It’s contrasting leathers and oversized buckle gives it a wow factor.

Fit: Medium

Shop it at Simons Shoes.

Naot Dashing

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Our Dashing mary jane with a 2” heel is both fabulous AND functional. The rubber outsole makes them extremely durable for all-day wear and our anatomical footbed will mold to your foot the more you wear them.

Fit: Medium

Shop it at Simons Shoes.

Naot Pilot

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Our top pick for the fall for men is our Pilot boot, which comes in gray, navy, brown and black. Men love them for their extreme comfort and classic style with the ability to dress them up or down.

Fit: Medium

Shop it at Simons Shoes.

Shop all styles at Simons Shoes here.

Naotics of the Month: September 2016

The weather may be cooling down, but our Naotics’ style is just warming up!

In early September, beauty and style blogger @beingzhenya slipped on our Tampa sandals on her visit to Chicago. She described the brownstones in Chicago as gorgeous, but we must admit, her outfit is what really catches our eye.

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Lori Leinard rocked her Dorith sandals all over Disney World in Orlando, so you know she was comfortable! Can you guess which Disney character she’s representing in this picture?

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Our next Naotic is one we’ve seen before. Risa from Philadelphia returns as a Naotic of the Month wearing her Naot Santa Barbara sandals with her adorable daughter Isla. Read more about her look on her blog here.

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The Naotic that’s last but not least is Amanda from Portland who embarked on a trip to Thailand this month in her Naot Santa Fe sandals.

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To shop all of these shoes and more, please visit Simons Shoes here.