Inspired by Greek mythology, shoe designer Christina Martini teamed up with Nikolas Minoglou to found Ancient Greek Sandals. Made using traditional techniques, the collection consists of feminine sandals with an edgy, yet wearable feel. We talked to Martini about her sources of inspiration and the craftsmanship behind the brand’s timeless designs.
The Thais Cross Strap Sandals.
Shopbop: What fascinates you most about Greek history and mythology?
Christina Martini: Ancient Greece offers an unlimited source of research and design ideas. For past collections, I have mostly explored ancient Greek art. Sculpture, pottery, architecture, and jewelry have been a great source of inspiration for me.
SB: How closely do Ancient Greek Sandals resemble original styles? In what ways are they modernized?
CM: We have a very large collection. Some original styles depict those on statues or frescos, while newer styles are more in line with our Ancient Greek concept. The sandals are modernized with new materials, such as haircalf and exotics, or through the introduction of bright colors and metallics. In addition, the whole construction is deliberately more feminine. Heavy soles and stitching on the insole are avoided, leaving the foot more bare and sexy and revealing the details of the sandal. Finally, for extra comfort, a small inner wedge has been added between the insole and sole, as well as an anti-slip heel piece in order to avoid accidents!
SB: Ancient Greek Sandals are made by craftsmen using centuries-old techniques. What is the shoemaking process?
CM: What characterizes a traditional Greek sandal is its construction. The fact that the leather is inserted through holes punched in the insole is what makes our sandals different from others. Another traditional characteristic is the vegetable-tanned leather which ages with light, time and wear.
I work very closely with our pattern-maker. When I send him a design, he makes a prototype without a sole in order for me to check the fitting and lines. As soon as corrections are made and the pattern is confirmed, the cutting knives of the upper are realized. The knives are placed on the vegetable tanned leather and hand pressed in order to cut the upper, then the leather is skived where needed and the pieces are assembled either by stitching or rivets, when absolutely necessary. In addition, the buckle, if relevant, is added.
In the meantime, holes are punched through the insole in order for the upper to be inserted. The sole with the anti-slip heel is glued together with the inside wedge and then the insole is placed. As a final procedure, the edges of the sole/insole are sanded down and waxed, and the sandal is cleaned and ready to go!
SB: Which sandals from the latest collection do you believe every woman needs this summer?
CM: There are so many, it is difficult to choose just one. Personally, I wear the Ismene style a lot. This braided sandal is perfect for day and night because of its metallic leather braid. I also love the Kiveli wedge sandal. The wedge gives a bit of a lift, and the height is really comfortable.
Finally, if comfort during everyday walks is the main objective, the Phoebe and the Lia are great. They hold the foot really well. As unequivocal proof, the dancers at the ceremony for the lighting of the Olympic torch performed wearing these two styles!
SB: What are your tips for styling Ancient Greek Sandals?
CM: Ancient Greek Sandals can be worn with anything, depending on your personal and unique style. They can be worn with a pair of denim shorts, long caftans and skirts, or even a wedding gown.
Shop Ancient Greek Sandals.