Earlier this year I was invited to the FRANKiE4 pop up store in Melbourne. At the time, I had heard of FRANKiE4 but had never tried on their shoes.
When I arrived at the event, I was astonished to find a buzzing space filled with women of all ages excitedly trying on multiple pairs of shoes.
It was insane! The FRANKiE4 team were hurriedly running around, helping customers, checking sizes and placing orders. There were people everywhere! I couldn’t believe the fuss!
… then I tried on my first pair of FRANKiE4 boots ever….. and I understood.
It was like walking on a big fluffy cloud. This will undoubtedly sound dramatic… but I honestly had never tried on boots in store that had ever felt so comfortable straight away.
I was grinning from ear to ear, walking around in disbelief. The lovely team member, who was fitting me, gave me a look as to say “I know right!”… I could tell they probably get that reaction a lot from FRANKiE4 virgins.
FRANKiE4’s designer, Caroline McCulloch is a qualified Podiatrist and Physiotherapist (who is also married to a Podiatrist), so she knows her stuff about designing comfortable shoes that alleviate and prevent foot pain.
What makes her designs so covetable though, is that they are slimline, modern and chic, so they are comfort shoes that women actually want to wear.
They are perfect for the ‘stylish every-woman’, whether you’re a busy mum, working on your feet all day, or simply, if like me, you like comfort way too much to be in stilettos for 8 hours but still want to rock a gorgeous pair of heels.
FRANKiE4 has a cult following, and it is not uncommon to speak to women who have purchased Caroline’s shoes to proudly admit they have 4, 6, or sometimes even 8 pairs on high rotation and that is because each shoes is designed with both style and comfort in mind.
Head below to read my interview with Designer Caroline McCulloch, as we discuss what makes FRANKiE4 shoes so unique, what inspires her creations, and why women love shoes so damn much.
Caroline, it is such a pleasure to have you on Lilt blog. For all of the reader who may not have heard of FRANKiE4, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and how the label came about?
I’m 38, I’m married to a (ridiculously good looking) podiatrist, we have 2 kids, Max 5 and Rosie 3. We own 2 Podiatry clinics in Brisbane, and we own FRANKiE4 footwear.
FRANKiE4 is named after our 13 year old fox terrier, Frank.
Despite my background as a health professional I’ve always had a love for fashion. When treating patients, it was often difficult to recommend comfort footwear styles that I wouldn’t want to wear myself, it felt hypocritical.
As a Podiatrist and Physiotherapist, footwear could not be separated from my treatment. If I was to provide the best care to my patients I needed to get their foundation right (i.e. footwear). But the options of comfort footwear on the market were ghastly. It was the day one of my patients nearly cried when I was showing her the different options of comfort shoes that would be great for her treatment, that I made the decision to look into designing my own styles.
Here at Lilt Blog we are all about stylish and practical design. Can you tell us a little bit about what makes FRANKiE4 shoes so unique and desirable?
Each style in the FRANKiE4 range is developed with body mechanics in mind, aimed to alleviate and prevent plantar fasciitis, heel, arch, and forefoot pain without compromising on style. My shoes hide the support and cushioning, as if they are undercover orthopaedic shoes disguised as a fashion shoe. This allows women to wear comfortable footwear without feeling like they are compromising on style. Women shoes shouldn’t feel uncomfortable. If they are, they aren’t doing good things for your feet.
I believe FRANKiE4 is providing a solution to an issue that has plagued women for decades by offering stylish high heels that supports and cushions the forefoot arch which is overloaded when the foot is angled with such a pitch in a high heel.
I also have a patented Custom Fit assembly of full length footbeds for a standard fit, half-length footbeds for a wide fit and forefoot fillers for a narrow fit. The assembly is included in the box. This enables the customer to adjust the fit of both left and right independently as needed based on foot dimensions, swelling, and bunions amongst other podiatric conditions.
You have a cult following of women who absolutely love and swear by FRANKiE4 shoes. I am a recent convert myself and absolutely love my Izzy boots. Can you give us some insight on what it takes to create such stylish and comfortable footwear? And what is important to you when creating a design?
An occupational hazard of mine is always looking at women’s feet, I simply can’t help it. I look at what shoes women are wearing before I look at faces. So researching trends and styles is an everyday occurrence for me.
When the time comes to start developing a new range, it starts with drawings, spec sheets, and lots of skype conferences with our supplier. Once I’ve received prototypes then I scoot over to China to work closely with our supplier on making all the changes to the prototypes needed. Once the look, the fit and the feel are just right then I start developing the different colours in time for our stockists to pick. I like to keep our colourway pallet to tones that women will easily be able to match our styles to their clothes.
What’s does a typical day at the studio look like for you?
Video calls with my supplier, liasing with the team on all things marketing, sales and logistics. Designing, tweeking, wear testing, size trialing before I have to do school and daycare pick up.
Bill (our dog) is generally laying under my desk waiting for me to take him for a jog.
How would you describe your own personal style?
My wardrobe actually matches my ethos on footwear; gorgeous designs that you feel comfortable and confident in. I keep a lot of basics on hand, so in the morning it’s easy to pull something together that is practical and professional. I love quality items, beautiful breathable textiles that are cut to suit your body shape and feel comfortable to move in. I love tailored pieces but ones that have some give. Of course, my shoedrobe is always bursting at the seams. I pretty much only ever wear samples of future ranges, I’m basically a full time ‘wear tester’.
What are your top 5 wardrobe essentials?
A white country road t-shirt
Lee denim jeans: a black pair, a dark blue pair and a worn looking light blue pair.
A Saba taliored jacket
A Zimmerman pretty flowy dress
…..shoes…. lots of shoes.
Where is the best place to shop in Brisbane?
Can you tell us about some of the people who inspire you and why?
My parents, they use to live on the land. All businesses have to overcome or accept adversities, but in my opinion farming is one of the toughest industries. My parents work ethic, adaptability and resilience has taught me a lot of skills managing my own business hurdles.
What would be your ideal collaboration or project
Funny you should ask…. we have just released a limited edition capsule range of styles I designed with a very talented Melbourne Artist Megan Grant. Read more here: https://frankie4.com.au/megan-grant
I absolutely loved working with Megan on this!
What are the top 3 resources which you turn to for inspiration?
Women who look confident and happy. Ultimately I want my footwear to support that type of mindset. When I see that type of person, her style is an inspiration.
Of course I’m also inspired by other fashion labels, it’s hard to pick a certain brand as there really isn’t any specific ones. I’m just drawn to certain colours or styles, I’m always asking myself, how can I put a FRANKIE4 twist in on a style concept that I like.
And last one – I, like many other women I am sure, have a fantasy of owning a walk in wardrobe full of shoes. Why do you think women have such an intense love for footwear?
My office is pretty much a walk in wardrobe of shoes!
I I truely believe women love footwear because footwear can impact your confidence. Heels make you feel taller and stronger for example.
Women don’t want to be hobbling around in uncomfortable shoes, they want their focus to be on more important things then thinking about when they’ll be able to kick off their shoes.
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