The Right Bank Shoe Company website is cloaked in mystery, but do a bit of digging and you’ll quickly find out who’s behind the stylish designs: Donald Pliner and his wife, Lisa. Pliner recently settled a lawsuit with his hugely successful eponymous shoe company, which he sold in 2011 and stepped down from in 2015. Now, he’s free to move forward with this new endeavor, a line of high- quality, comfort-driven footwear available now locally at Main & Taylor (mainandtaylorshoes.com). We spoke with the designer about why he’s Mr. Right Bank.
You describe your collection as “retro-fabulous;” what does that mean?
After I resigned, I started writing a book. I never knew who Donald Pliner was as a business and how big the name really was. When you have a passion for what you do, you’re not aware of it. I had lost three times my life’s savings and started over again, and I started looking back at my shoes and designs. It was retro-fabulous.
How does that translate into the designs?
I’m doing stretch but in a different way. Comfort is the main purpose of the whole collection. Twenty, thirty years ago there was the Birkenstocks and Mephisto, what people called comfort. Instead of doing a basic sports shoe, there is a design behind it but it still has the comfort element. It’s about colors I don’t think exist out there, it’s about materials—taking all of those ideas and making them retro-fabulous. It has the story behind it, and the designs aren’t high-end today and tomorrow obsolete. The shoes have longevity. People recognize my quality.
Your logo has the peace sign on it, why?
We lost our first child and ended up adopting a little girl in Kazakhstan. We started a foundation called Peace for Children, so our logo has a peace sign, and all of our soles say peace.
You’re incorporating embroidered patches in your designs. Can you talk about the concept?
The skull has sunglasses on because I’m incognito, and it says 1943 because that’s the year I first started talking. We do all sorts of different embroidery. I work with a gentleman out of India, and we do another crest that instead of having the skull has a peace sign—we’re bringing back the peace sign. They are all hand-done. It takes about 15 hours to make a pair of patches. The patches are hand-sewn [on the shoe] and finished in Italy or Spain.
For more information visit rightbankshoeco.com.