Just last March, RMIT graduate Carissa Taramoeroa wowed us with her shoemaking skills at her label launch and exhibition at Tinning Street gallery in Melbourne. Her range featured a rainbow of colours and patterns by friend and textile designer Jess Eisenhauer, which were adorned with jewels by friend Amy Gopperth.
The sense of community at the label launch was obvious, as Taramoeroa’s collaborative debut pieces made their way down a runway built from milk crates and leftover steel welded by fellow artists.
Sharing tea in her studio, which she shares with two other shoemakers, Taramoeroa explains what drew her towards her pattern-centric style. “I just wanted to make shoes I had never seen before,” she says. “I would see the designs my friend Jess Eisenhauer made and think ‘Why can’t I have shoes that look like that?’”
Taramoeroa’s shoe collection is visually striking. Stepping out of the neutral colour palette we tend to see in autumn, her shoes are full of colour and energy. The designer spices up traditional ankle boot and sneaker cuts by slapping on a catchy canvas pattern or shimmering metallic leather, punching in some charms and adding a massive woodblock heel or platform.
When it comes to inspiration, Taramoeroa prefers a more fluid approach rather than sticking to the more classic styles many shoemakers learn in school. Her collection this year featured designs inspired from movie characters like C3PO (from Star Wars) or patterns and colours from 90s R&B videos, but her next collection may pull from a whole new set of visuals. She knows that her style has changed a lot over the years and that it will continue to change, but that is perfectly fine with her. “I just want to grow up making awesome shoes out of my garage,” she says, somewhat bright eyed.
Taramoeroa challenges the stereotypes that are often associated with shoemakers today. She is no elderly man sitting solo in a shop waiting to repair your broken heels or resole your boots. She’s a young artist in a studio who loves making killer shoes.
If you’re ready to pull on a pair, Taramoeroa’s tailored and handmade shoes start at $400, so start saving. You can place an order at her new online store or contact her personally to customise your pattern, cut and soling to fit your taste. “Part of the shoemaking experience is getting to make the actual shoe. Touching the leather, cutting and using the knives, sewing, gluing and hammering. I want to make and oversee every single pair that goes out and I sell under my name,” Tamamoeroa says, explaining that she wants to stay as connected to the customer and process as possible.
At this point in time, she can pump out three to four pairs of shoes a week, which is hardly a commercial level, but has plans to expand her team soon. For now, Taramoeroa bartends part-time to support her one-woman shoe show. And as she learned via her label launch earlier this year, staying organised is essential to moving forward. Making a single shoe by hand takes more than a day. After fitting patterns, stitching cuts and waiting for glue to dry, Taramoeroa fills out an order to have her wooden heels carved by Bruce Miller, the last maker of his kind in Australia. After a couple of days, the heels are sent to her studio for Tamamoeroa to make the final touches.
It’s a slow process, but one we’re impressed with. And with plans to expand to men’s shoes soon, no doubt Tamamoeroa will be a shoe-in for many wardrobes soon enough.
Carissa Taramoeroa shoes can be ordered via her website and shipped across Australia.