Packing your stuff for another cool trip and getting stuck with infinite pairs of heels and sandals that don’t fit in into your suitcase?

Believe me, we’ve all been there.  One pair of sandals for the beach, one for wandering around and exploring a new city, another one for evening look… Where do I put all those shoes, you ask? Well, no need to worry from now on: a New-York-based shoe startup, Alterre, has a solution for you.


Straps’n’Base Is The New Black

What's Your 'Alterre' Ego? Eco-Style Shoe Brand Nailing The Comfort

Founded by Shilpa Iyengar and Harmony Pilobello, the shoe company has come up with an unusual way of providing comfortable footwear, at the same time reducing waste and carbon footprint on our planet. The shoes you are used to buy are no longer the same: Alterre offers sandals – both with open and closed toe – which allow you to easily snapp on and off straps and bases.  With interchangeable parts being of dozens of different colors and prints, the total combination series is 125 – an endless opportunity to combine and create a perfect pair for every day.

 “We’re very popular among women who travel a lot,” – Pilobello says. “They can carry one base, plus lots of straps for different looks.”

What's Your 'Alterre' Ego? Eco-Style Shoe Brand Nailing The Comfort

Iyengar and Pilobello spent two years prototyping shoes and developing the modular technology before launching in the fall of 2015. The company offers two types of bases – one with a low-heel slide, and the other one with mid-heel and closed toe, made of genuine leather sourced in Brazil. Alterre works with highly-experienced Brazilian and American shoe experts, and after the shoes are carefully designed in New York City, Brazilian labor factories take upon the actual production.

What's Your 'Alterre' Ego? Eco-Style Shoe Brand Nailing The Comfort

“On first glance, women might think that this system is flimsy or the straps don’t stay in place. We needed to show that the shoes feel solid and exactly like any other shoe you have in your closet,” – says Iyengar. Alterre’s genuine mission is to create a stylish and comfortable shoe line that would be appealing and wearable for all women. The price for bases starts from $130 and $45 for straps – one combination would be $175 at the lowest. Although this number might sound a bit costly for one pair of sandals, one great asset is – Alterre works on altering the practical side of their product, mixing it with chic and vintage-inspired design, and providing women with limitless shoe combos to feel and look glam.


Friends In Business – Why On Earth Not?

Shilpa and Harmony met each other as students at Parsons School of Design in New York. At that time, Harmony was studying menswear and fashion sustainability, and Shilpa was more into women’s evening wear, shoes design, and printmaking. The two women were conscious about following a more sustainable and eco-friendly approach in making trendy footwear. The heels for Alterre’s shoes are made from recycled plastic, and for other parts, they use recycled leather – this was the reason why the shoe line was made with platform heels.

What's Your 'Alterre' Ego? Eco-Style Shoe Brand Nailing The Comfort

Along the usual bases and uppers, there are certain pairs that are named after strong and notable women, whom Iyengar and Pilobello admire greatly. The fashion inspiration came from Elsie de Wolf, Billie Holiday, Bianca Jagger, Tilda Swinton and such legends as Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy. Surprisingly, each styled pair is packed with a cocktail recipe, which, the founders believe, represents each women as a person.

What's Your 'Alterre' Ego? Eco-Style Shoe Brand Nailing The Comfort

The inspiration by strong women goes beyond than just naming shoes after them: Alterre gives 5% of its profits to Restore NYC – a non-profit organization that provides rehabilitation to sex-trafficking victims in New-York. Restore aims at stopping the cycle of abuse to women by providing them with education, a place to stay for almost one year, and a placement in a U.S. company.

What's Your 'Alterre' Ego? Eco-Style Shoe Brand Nailing The Comfort

As for working together, Iyengar and Pilobello break the well-known rule of not leading a business with a friend. Since their paths crossed one day when they were making a university assignment together, Shelpa and Harmony realized how many same interests and ideas they had about life and work. They never compete but rather complement each other, and both women are excellent at separating job from friendship. Their working ethics and personalities are slightly different, but that does not stop them from being an effective team.

“I feel really lucky to have met someone who entirely complements my way of working and thinking,” – Harmony told the Collective Hub. She has all the qualities I don’t and it’s awesome! She is great at remembering various deadlines and keeping us on track for the big picture. She also doesn’t buckle easily under pressure and knows how to stand strong when people try to take advantage of us.

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