Tuesday, 23 August 2022 06:08 Written by

If I said, "Rag & Bone," more likely than not, an image of Newbury ankle boots might pop into your mind. Same, maybe, with "Chloé" and those flat, studded Suzanna booties or "Isabel Marant" and — whether the designer likes it or not — wedge sneakers. So while you might not yet recognize the brand name Freda Salvador — a faux moniker concocted by co-founders Megan Papay and Cristina Palomo-Nelson —

it, too, may soon be known for its distinctive-yet-classic footwear. (I've been obsessed with the Star Jodhpurankle boot, essentially a flat Chelsea bootie with a removable ringlet of metal-tipped fringe, since last year.) In a competitive marketplace packed with derivative designs or worse, it's refreshing to come across an original footwear brand that focuses on cool-girl details and wearability.

Papay and Palomo-Nelson founded Freda Salvador in 2011 and interestingly decided to base the company not in fashion-saturated New York or the runner-up American style capital, Los Angeles — but rather in San Francisco, a place better known for tech startups and North Face. Previously, Papay sampled different parts of the fashion industry in New York: the celebrity services department at Calvin Klein, fashion and beauty public relations, and her own accessories line. Her husband's job brought her out to San Francisco and she joined the design team at a shoe company, Anyi Lu, and met her future business partner, whose family has been in the shoe business for more than 65 years. Shoemaking "was always in my blood," said Palomo-Nelson, who holds a masters in fine art from the Academy of Art in San Francisco, and who also trained at Italian shoe design school, Ars Sutoria (Sarah Flint's alma mater).

Papay and Palomo-Nelson, who are so in sync they tend to finish each others' sentences, decided to name their brand Freda Salvador to "resonate alifestyle." The "Freda" comes from the duo's admiration of feminist artist Frida Kahlo. "We love her badass-ness," says Palomo-Nelson, whose family business is based in El Salvador — hence, "Salvador."