The Wall Street Journal sat down with Anyi to discuss her inspiration for starting ANYI LU and the process of starting her own business. As the WSJ is one of our favorite publications, we couldn't be more excited about the article.
Read the article on WSJ.com here.
Full text from the article:
A Chemist Sought a Formula for Mixing Comfort and Fashion
Anyi Lu Got Tired Of Suffering In Formal Footwear, So She Launched Her Own Line
Sometimes a great idea comes after a lot of soul-searching. Or, in the case of Anyi Lu, sole-searching.
Having worked as a chemist first at DuPont and then at Chevron, Ms. Lu spent several years suffering in uncomfortable shoes. "I was usually working in a factory, on my feet, and chasing people up throughout the day," she explains, "but then I'd also need to be in meetings with executives throughout the day, so I'd need to dress professionally."
Ms. Lu says that while her male colleagues would linger at work chitchatting or head out for happy hour, she would race home to get her shoes off.
"I looked everywhere and tried everything, but there was a constant trade-off in women's shoes: either comfortable or nice looking," she says. "My male colleagues did not have to make a choice between professional footwear and comfort, and it bothered me for years that women did."
The issue came to a head the day before her sister's wedding in 2004, when the bride called Ms. Lu begging her to find her comfortable shoes.
"I said that's impossible—people spend months looking for the right shoes for their wedding dress!" Ms. Lu says. "But she said, 'No, no, I have those shoes and they're beautiful, but I can only wear them for about half an hour, so I've timed the ceremony so that I can get through it and the pictures in those shoes, but then I need to change into something else.'"
Along with a suitable pair of heels, Ms. Lu found the inspiration to start her own business. She spent the next two years researching shoes, starting with dance shoes and eventually traveling to Italy, where she learned about sachetto construction—which entails turning shoe leather into essentially a sock that molds to the foot.
In 2006, she officially launched her shoe line—called ANYI LU—and quickly won orders from Nordstrom. Her shoes now sell at Bloomingdale's and Neiman Marcus, as well, and she has launched an e-commerce site.
We've just completed the shoot for our Fall 2014 season lookbook, and we couldn't be happier with the images! Our photographer Holly Stewart captured our fabulous model, Luba Vitti, demonstrating the comfort and weightlessness of ANYI LU shoes with dramatic leaps, turns, and jumps. Dawn Sutti did an amazing job with her makeup and hair, Rachel Arnow picked an incredible wardrobe, and Kristen Vandivier gave great direction and choreography despite being 6 months pregnant! Thank you to everyone who contributed!
Sign up to get on the mailing list to get your copy when the book comes out here.
It’s easy to get stuck in the yoga pants/sneakers routine when pregnant, but there’s nothing like putting on a cute outfit and some makeup to make you feel like yourself again. You may be wondering if it’s safe to wear heels, and the answer depends on many factors–how early you are in your pregnancy, how you feel, how you’re carrying, etc. The following are some suggestions to consider when choosing footwear for this special time in your life, but remember, you know your own body and safety should always comes first.
- Thicker heel + secured ankle–Early on in your pregnancy, you can get away with some height especially if you have a thicker heel and a secured ankle like the Athena in Look 1. Arch support and a cushioned insole are especially important in this case. Keep in mind, your belly will change your center of gravity, so don’t go high once you’re larger to avoid extra pressure on your joints or the risk of a fall.
- Low wedge–When you start showing and are past the point of wearing heels, a low wedge is a great option for feeling safe and stylish. And choosing a wedge with stretchy straps like the Linda in Look 2 can help with “oedema” or swelling during pregnancy.
- Elastic straps–Women in pregnancy need to be especially careful that they feel secure and have a bit of stretch to their shoes because the hormone relaxin loosens your ligaments all over your body in order to make your pelvis more flexible. Some women even go up a half to a full shoe size when pregnant. The Bella featured in Look 3 demonstrates this with large elastic straps allowing for give, though this shoe would be unsuitable past early pregnancy since it has some height.
Our three looks are meant to show how you don’t have to sacrifice comfort for style during pregnancy. The tightness of the grey, striped dress in our first look helps show off an early bump. Fitted tops can be more flattering than relaxed ones in those early months. Loose tops also look nice if paired with tighter pants like in the next two looks and can help you get away with wearing non-maternity pants just a little longer! Buying a whole new maternity wardrobe just for the last couple trimesters doesn’t make much sense, but selecting a few key pieces like the maternity jacket in Look 1 or the maternity blazer in Look 3 can bridge the gap until the baby comes.
Dress/Asos – Mamalicious Grey Stripe Dress
Jacket/TopShop – 'Wilbert' Maternity Jacket
Sunglasses/Ray Ban – Orange Cream Aviator Large Metal
Necklace/J.Crew – beaded necklace
Bag/Baggu – Basic Tote
Shoes/ANYI LU – Athena in Pewter/Black
Blouse/TopShop – Maternity Diamond Print Shirt
Pants/Cimmaroon Jeans – Cassis Marlboro
Shoes/ANYI LU – Linda in Metallic Avana
Blouse/TopShop– Maternity Pintuck Shell Top
Pants/Vince – Black Seam Legging
Blazer/TopShop – Maternity Shrunken Blazer
Bracelet + Earrings/David Yurman – Cable Classics
Shoes/ANYI LU – Bella in Pewter Stretch
*Nothing in this blog post is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your OB or midwife.
All the shoes made at ANYI LU are considered investment pieces meant to last for years and one of the best ways to maximize the lifespan of your shoes is proper storage. See below for Anyi’s expert tips on storing your favorite pairs:
- Keep them clean and dry – Before storing, it’s best to wipe your shoes down and make sure there’s no dirt or moisture left. If your shoes are damp and are put away then put back in a box–this can cause odor, bacteria, mold and mildew to form. If possible, store your shoes in an area of the house where the humidity is low and stable (i.e. not the basement). Fluctuating humidity causes shoe materials to distort from swelling and contracting.
- Keep their shape – Shoes will compress and lose their shape over time. Providing support in the form of a cedar shoe tree can help maintain its proper shape while the cedar draws out excess moisture and odors. Archival tissue paper is a good cheap alternative, especially for sling backs which can’t use a tree. Boot trees or tissue can keep the shape of your boots.
- Keep them covered – For longer term storage, it’s best to keep your shoes covered to keep out dust and even light which can degrade materials. Cotton or felt shoe bags are ideal because they let shoes breathe. Plastic bags will dry them out. For easy storage, place the shoes in bags or tissue in boxes made from archival materials. If using plastic boxes, make sure the plastic is acid-free and that they have vents for air flow to prevent mold.
- Keep them separated – For short term storage, it’s fine to keep your shoes out in the open. Just be sure to keep them upright and separated so they don’t bleed into one another. This is especially true for patent leather. Keeping them on cedar shelves with some kind of shoe tree or tissue is preferable.
For more shoe care tips, check out the materials care section of our FAQ.
Every woman deserves to both look beautiful and feel her best on her big day. Yet so many women make the mistake of buying a pair of shoes based solely on how they look and then end up in pain from the start of the ceremony to the end of the reception. The last thing a bride should be thinking about at her wedding is her feet, so picking a shoe based on both fit and style is essential. This is no easy task. In fact, Anyi was inspired to start her business after trying in vain to find a beautiful shoe for her sister to wear at her wedding that could also be worn all day.
The following are elements of construction that will help you be a comfortable bride:
- Thicker heel–Stilettos may be dramatic for a photo, but in reality they’re hard to walk in, even harder to dance in, and the heels sink right into the grass. A heel with a bit of thickness that is less than 3 inches will still give you height and let you move with an easy grace all day.
- Arch support + cushioned insole–There’s a lot of standing at weddings. Standing during the ceremony, standing in a receiving line, standing for pictures. Proper arch support and cushioning will make all the difference between wishing that time away and enjoying every moment.
- Adjustable strap and secured ankle–Most great weddings have some dancing, and you don’t want to be worried about going over on an ankle when taking a spin, or having to put on flip flops with your couture gown. Straps that can adjust and hold the foot securely will keep you dancing late into the night.
- High quality materials–This is not the time to pick a shoe with cheap materials. Not only are these materials unattractive, they don’t flex with your foot and can cause blisters. Look for high quality leathers, patents, and suedes.
We chose the Tulipe to represent “the perfect bridal shoe” because it fulfills all the above criteria for fit plus looks absolutely stunning.
The first look pairs the Tulipe in metallic pitone with a sophisticated, full-length gown. The modern, sleek silhouette balanced with the vintage feel of the lace material and pearls make for a romantic combination. A metallic shoe is the perfect compliment to a white dress since it’s still neutral but adds some contrast.
The second look is all about pops of color and fun, ideal for a destination wedding. When wearing a bright shoe like this Papaya patent Tulip, a short dress can really show them off. Instead of matching your accessories to the shoes, try another bright, complimentary color like this turquoise necklace.
For more inspiration, see how a bride customized her Tulips in this Refinery29 article.
Dress/Alice+Olivia – Sachi open back gown
Necklace/J.Crew – Opera length pearl necklace
Mary Jane heels/ANYI LU – Tulipe in Metallic Pitone
(also available here)
Dress/Badgley Mischka – Asymmetrical Peplum Strapless Dress
Necklace/Vintage – Chunky turquoise necklace (similar)
Mary Jane heels/ANYI LU – Tulip in Papaya Patent
(also available here)
We're in the process of designing the Fall 2014 season lookbook, and we're continuing our theme of illustrating the comfort and weightlessness of ANYI LU shoes with dramatic leaps, turns, and jumps. Our creative director, Kristen, worked with our photographer Holly Stewart to try out some poses for our model before our shoot next month. And she's 5 months pregnant!*
Sign up to get on the mailing list to get your copy when they come out here.
*Kristen is an experienced dancer and has her doctor's approval to do advanced levels of dancing.
We at ANYI LU love the fun of Throwback Thursday and thought we'd celebrate this widespread social media holiday by featuring a different ANYI LU style from a former season every week. This is the first week, and we're featuring the Lola in black from Spring '13! Get it Thursday April 17th only (7am-4pm PST) for 15% off, free returns. We have from sizes 36-42 1/2 but very limited quantities so first come, first serve. To order, call (888)683-9704.
The women of the 1960’s exuded a kind of confident femininity that never goes out of style. That’s why we chose this era to be the inspiration for the Spring/Summer 2014 collection. The following are three looks to go with three of the styles from the Spring collection to help inspire you to experiment with 60’s inspired fashion.
- Cropped pants with flats–Think Audrey Hepburn when trying out this first look. Women in the 60’s were not afraid to combine prints and textures, so we paired a printed cropped pant with a printed flat–the Delphine. The top is a knit pattern, which was also common back then, though this one takes its shape from today’s fashion. Throw on a pair of big sunglasses, grab a bold colored clutch, and you’re ready to go.
- Bold print & color–The ladies of the 1960’s knew how to be bold and conservative at the same time. This look takes a conservative structured jacket, but then gets daring with a big print made up of bright colors and earth tones. The cropped pant and low heels (the Gigi) also walk the line of fun and reserved while the necklace adds a modern twist.
- Mini shift dress–We couldn’t do a post on 60’s inspired style without a short shift dress. This style of dress was introduced with the British invasion of 1964 and became wildly popular because it can fit so many body types. Leopard print came into vogue when Jackie O started wearing it at the suggestion of her designer, Oleg Cassini. Pairing it with the Tulipe, a modern mary jane, in metallic pitone completes the look.
Top/Zara – cut work crop top
Tank Top/Theory – len 2 top in tubular stretch
Pants/Opening Ceremony – Calyx jacquard pants
Bag/Baggu – leather pouch
Sunglasses/Elizabeth & James – Crescent Sunglasses
Flats/ANYI LU – Delphine in black mongrovian
Jacket/Sass+Bide – world's apart cropped jacket
Tank Top/Theory – len 2 top in tubular stretch
Pants/Isabel Marant – 'kay' jean (same fabric, diff
Necklace/Joomi Lim – spiked chain necklace
Heels/ANYI LU – Gigi in bisque patent
- LE SPECS Cheshire round-frame acetate mirrored sunglasses
- PAIGE Vermont denim jacket
- TORY BURCH Edith floral-print slub-faille shorts
- JASON WU Ruffled silk top
- ARME DE L'AMOUR gold-plated cuff
- ARME DE L'AMOUR gold-plated hoop earrings
- LINDA FARROW Cat eye elaphe-trimmed acetate sunglasses
- GUCCI Mesh-trimmed silk crepe de chine dress
- BOTTEGA VENETA Roma large intrecciato leather tote
- MONICA VINADER Figi gold-plated bracelet
The oxford for women is a fairly recent trend that has quickly become a wardrobe essential but many wonder what to wear with them. Turns out, this shoe is incredibly versatile and a single pair can result in endless looks. We’ve featured three with our Amy oxford to help inspire you when deciding what to wear with this style of footwear.
- City casual–It’s fun to play with masculine and feminine when wearing oxfords. This look plays tough qualities, like leather and metal, off the softness of the blue shirt. Note that even if your oxfords are a pattern suede like these Amy’s in black and white pony, they pair nicely with another leather like that of the pants.
- Weekend casual–Oxfords don’t have to be serious! They can easily be worn with shorts or skirts. This look pairs the Amy’s with a jumpsuit for an unexpected and fun combination.
- At the office–This type of shoe is a natural at the office, but many make the mistake of going too masculine. This look combines feminine pieces like a soft, floral top and a bold necklace for balance. The cropped pants show off the ankle and the shoe. Socks can be tough to pull off with this style of shoe unless they’re knee-high or stockings so when in doubt, wear with bare feet or peds.
Blouse/Madewell – perfect chambray ex-boyfriend shirt
Pants/Rag & Bone – leather leggings (similar)
Bracelet/Eden & Eden – 70's vintage (similar in white)
Ring/Bing Bang – circle ring (similar)
Oxfords/ANYI LU – Amy in black/white pony
Coat/Zara – parka with wraparound collar
Jumpsuit/Theory – Hadrine denim playsuit
Sunglasses/Ray Ban – Wayfarer
Necklace/Sydney open air market – handmade
Oxfords/ANYI LU – Amy in black/white pony
We're back from another great trip to Bologna, Italy for LineaPelle–the biggest international leather show in the world. It's the perfect place for us to choose our materials and components for our Resort and Spring 2015 collections since our factories are in Italy and we work exclusively with Italian tanneries. There were tons of bright colors, pastels, animal prints like snake, lizard and croc, and metallics this year from which to choose. We also visited booths like Vibram and Extralight to find new high-tech materials to incorporate into the shoes for maximum comfort and flexibility. We are one of only a handful of companies in the world that uses these materials in women's dress shoes. LineaPelle is the best of both worlds for us–we combine our research to make our shoes the cutting edge of both comfort and fashion.
Sourcing the highest quality Italian leathers for all ANYI LU designs, founder Anyi Lu firmly believes that shoes are investment pieces—and with April showers around the corner, she’s well aware your treasured leather shoes are at risk. See below for Anyi’s expert tips on how to maximize their lifespan in the face of spring’s dreaded elements:
- Act fast – Leather is much more prone to damage if it gets wet, so waterproofing shoes immediately after purchase is crucial. Be sure to cover any embellishments or trims that waterproofing products might damage. If your shoes do get wet either before or after weatherproofing, fill them with tissue or newspaper and let them dry out away from a heat source.
- Case by case – Leather can withstand rain, but only after undergoing proper treatment. The ideal waterproofing product depends on the type of leather you’re treating. For example, lotions and oils are best for calf and nappa leather and sprays are best for suede and exotic skins. Do not weatherproof patent leathers, shiny leathers, sequins, or pony hair. Research carefully, as the wrong product can damage rather than protect the material.
- Patent protection – Patent leather is your best bet to conquer dreary conditions in style. This glossy, shiny leather is virtually waterproof. Do keep in mind, however, that because of the porous nature of this kind of leather, the color can transfer to the shoe and penetrate underneath the patent finish marking leather underneath permanently. Because of this, you should store patent shoes in such a way that they don't directly touch other shoes.
- Traction factor – With slippery floors rampant in spring, traction pads pack a one-two punch by preventing spills and adding to the longevity of your shoes. ANYI LU uses polished leather for its soles, but most styles also include an injection-molded rubber traction pad fused to the sole.
If you’re unsure of what kind of material your ANYI LU shoes are, feel free to write us an email. Examples of different materials from our collection include:
Calf leather: Black on ATHENA, stamped snake on DELPHINE
Nappa leather: KELLY in Pewter/Latte or any LILY
Patent leather: EMILY or TULIP
Suede: Black Lux LINDA or Metallic Pitone ERICA
For more shoe care tips, check out the materials care section of our FAQ.