Legging boots—loots? Boot pants—bants? Whatever you want to call them, they're the manifestation of shoe designer Tamara Mellon's ingenuity. They break down barriers between clothing and accessories, between logic and insanity. They exist as a wonderfully weird boot-pant hybrid that launches more questions than answers. Like, why? And what category do they fall under? (Spoiler alert: You can locate them under "Boots" on Tamara Mellon's site.)
She first introduced her brainchild to the world three years ago, and this season, she re-launched with a new silhouette (that promises a better fit), right on the heels of Balenciaga's version of bants that debuted on the spring 2017 runway during Paris Fashion Week. How did she feel about that—was she upset or happy? What do these new legging boots look like? See? More questions. We got Mellon on the phone, where she happily answered every one.
What do you call them?
How did you come up with it?
I actually tried to do this when I was at Jimmy Choo, but it was a little early and no one could understand what I was talking about.
Did they think you were crazy?
They did think I was crazy, which often happens to me in my life. But then I managed to really execute it with my own brand. And the idea came from a fashion editor friend of mine. Her mother had a pair from the '60s, but they were made from a PVC kind of fabric. They used to wear them under mini skirts, because they were so short. And we just thought they were so great, because I also hate seeing the line between an ankle boot and a leather legging. I wanted a clean, streamlined look.
Do people judge them before trying them on?
The thing is, everyone has that "Aha" moment when they put them on, because they look so weird on the hanger. Really bizarre. And then they put them on and they're like, "Oh! They're actually really easy to wear." They're great because you can just throw on a big boyfriend sweater, you can wear it with a T-shirt and a tuxedo jacket. You could throw on a sequin tank top and go out in the evening. In the winter, they turn into the office uniform, because everyone just throws them on every day and then wears a different top.
How are these different from the ones you designed three years ago?
We've modified it and updated it, so the fit is amazing. We got the fit of the legging part better because we made the top part from a ready-to-wear factory; from the knee down, it's made in a boot factory, and then we sewed it together. Now, it's really flattering.
What's the biggest challenge?
Because everybody has a different height, so we had to come up with the perfect height. So, if you're 5-foot-2, it still looks cool with it scrunched around the ankles. And if you're really tall, you can just pull them up.
How do you find your size?
Every shoe size has two legging sizes. So, say your foot is a 37, you have the option to order a 37 with a small pant or with a medium/large pant.
How do you wash them?
You can send them to the dry cleaners just like you would a leather legging.
How do you properly store them?
On a hanger.
How do you feel about Balenciaga (pictured below) showing legging boots on the runway?
Actually I'm really happy that they did that, because everyone thought I was crazy. I'm actually really flattered that Balenciaga copied the legging boot. I take it as a compliment, because they say copying is the highest form of flattery. And I think it will actually probably help sell ours, because the more people see of something, the less strange it is. It validates the idea. And I think more people will be willing to try it now that they've seen it.
Are you going to offer different colorways?
Right now, we have the black suede and the black stretch leather. But we've had requests for chocolate brown and gray. Balenciaga showed bright pink and it looks fantastic on the runway, but it probably won't translate into real life as well, so we'll probably keep it in easier colors to wear.
You can buy Tamara Mellon's Sweet Revenge boots for $1,495 at tamaramellon.com.