Fashion

How Larroudé Became the It-Girl Shoe Brand of Instagram

You’ve probably seen them plastered across your Instagram Feed or being sported by your favorite influencers: chunky platforms, knee-length boots and mules in bold patterns that range from gingham to daisies and in playful silhouettes drenched in eye-popping shades that come in everything from Fuschia to metallic silver. The brand? Her namesake, Larroudé. Throughout the past two years, the ‘70s-influenced design house has been quietly taking over the fashion industry for its appeal to luxury loyalists at a rather accessible price point.

But Larroudé might not have come to life in quite the same way had it not been for some unfortunate circumstances. One month after the start of the pandemic, Marina Larroudé and her husband Ricardo both lost their jobs. As they found themselves in lockdown with their kids figuring out their next move, Marina, a fashion industry veteran who had previously held positions at Barneys New York, Teen Vogue and Style.com, focused on launching a footwear line. It was something that had been on her mind for years. “Honestly, I remember reading a story on Tory Burch that she started [her line] right after she had the twins. She was home, and that was when she had that ‘a ha’ moment of doing her own brand and bringing the market. It was when she wasn’t ‘in it’ that she could see it,” Marina explains over Zoom from Larroudé’s New York office.

Marina finally felt like it was her time. She initially thought of designing private label shoes for Barneys since she had done that at her last job, but some advice from her ex-colleagues to “do your own brand instead of trying to revive something” stuck with her. By December 2020, Larroudé was officially launched with Marina and Ricardo as co-founders—the former the CCO, and the latter the CEO. “We did everything within a six-month period,” she recalls. The team, which began with five people, now has a headcount of 26, with offices in New York and Brazil. Plus, Larroudé has a factory opening in January 2023.

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Despite launching Larroudé during the pandemic, the designs weren’t exactly languishing-friendly. “We had few slides, but we didn’t develop a collection for the COVID times or for the lockdown,” she says. “We developed a brand for the long term.” The Larroudés wanted to create “a whimsical brand” that was a high-quality product. Marina’s rationale for the timing was simple: during the 2008 recession, retail was in shambles, but by 2010, “it was the best year in retail.” That gave her hope. The timing gave her an advantage. While everyone was scaling back, she was able to garner a slew of press and attention. “After the vaccine, [customers] came to us for those whimsical pieces. People wanted to have that joyful moment in their lifetime. It wasn’t planned, but it really helped us,” Marina explains.

Comfort, for Marina, was also key. What makes Larroudé’s shoes special is just that: The landing for the top of your foot is five millimeters wider than any other shoe in the market space. The width of where you are landing your feet, it’s wider, even in the high heel. “We did memory foam inside the entire shoe that we call the ‘Larroudé cloud,’ she says. Having worked in luxury fashion, Marina saw a gap in the market for these kinds of shoes that were high quality with a price point that wasn’t too extreme. “I honestly saw it as a white space, and I think that’s why we are growing,” she adds.

Larroudé launched with just a few product lines: the Kate, a chic and sleek knee-high boot; the Miso, a chunky, retro flatform; the Colette, a mule with a slim heel; and the Lee, pointed-toe ballet flats. It wasn’t long until they added several more styles, including their top-seller, the Dolly, a party-ready platform sandal. Larroudé has also expanded on the designs that have become hallmarks of their brand—the Miso, for instance, is now a clog and a boot, too. Many of the items are emblazoned with funky prints that include daisies, strawberries, gingham and polka dots.

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Marina’s upbringing in Brazil heavily influenced both the shoes’ playfulness and timelessness: “I am Brazilian and I love my summer wardrobe. I have my wardrobe for 20 years. When I was thinking about the collection, I was like, ‘I want something that’s collectible, that you can buy and then you can wear and add on into your life. Not something trendy you buy one season and are over the next,” she explains.

Much of the brand’s popularity has been thanks to influencers and celebrities. “I knew a lot of people in the industry, so I was able to send them a pair and ask what they think,” she explains. But because Larroudé is a self-funded company, they didn’t have a huge budget. “It was very a mouth-to-mouth brand that we were building it up,” Marina adds. After her influencer friends had tested out the goods, Marina began reaching out to celebrities. Fans of the Larroudé now include Amy Schumer, Drew Barrymore, Alicia Keys and Mary J. Blige. As the brand has gained steam, it’s expanded into handbags and clutches—one which First Lady Jill Biden famously carried. (They sold out thanks to that.)

Within a 12-month period, Larroudé has also had eight high-profile collaborations, including Oscar de La Renta, Barbie, LoveShackFancy and Melissa. The range of collaborations is a reflection of Marina’s personality, her affinity for both high-fashion and emerging designers: “I always worked in the fashion industry, but I never took myself so seriously.” Larroudé’s latest collection with jewelry designer Jennifer Fisher launched Dec. 1. “She’s someone who loves fashion so much, and she was like, ‘We need to do a boot.’ We were like, ‘Okay, what do women like us want that we cannot find for our price point in quality and in comfort?’ That was when the collection came together,” she says of working with Fisher.

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More brand partnerships are on the horizon, but Marina is staying tight-lipped about them for now. However, she has some dream collaborations in mind—a sneaker with Nike or something with UGGS since they’re “so cute and fuzzy” and are “having a moment” themselves. She hopes to expand Larroudé into a ready-to-wear brand. “We see Larroudé like a Vince Camuto that is a bigger brand, where we can host other brands,” Marina explains. “That’s where we see ourselves in the future, growing beyond our own brand and into a multi-brand type of group.”

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