After a trip to Marrakech, Tory Noll was hooked—on the bold, multicolored rugs and blankets she found in the open-air marketplaces. "I've always been obsessed with pattern and textiles, and rugs have been an idle passion of mine for some time. I went to Morocco for work and brought back a pair of oxfords I had made with some vintage Moroccan pillows I found in the souks," says Noll. "I thought it was a fun alternative to leather—so did other people because I got compliments on them whenever I wore them, from friends and co-workers and random people on the street." Taking note, Noll started TEN & Co.—TEN because of her initials—to bring the colorful patterned shoes to the rest of us stateside.
Noll—who also works as a freelance prop stylist and is based in Brooklyn, New York—has a lot of free time in between projects and decided to start the company as a side project. "It may sound strange and non-entrepreneurial, but I don't have an ultimate goal to start a fashion empire or anything like that; if I'm having fun and not losing money, I'm happy as a clam," she says.
After hunting for fabrics in Moroccan flea markets, auctions and shops, Noll then takes the goods to a cobbler in Marrakech, where a marriage between vivid North African patterns and colors with classic Western shoe forms takes place. Because each style is made from a single rug or woven blanket, only a small number can be made—ensuring that the pair you have your eye on won't be found elsewhere.
For this year's FW collection, Noll made nine styles and added two new shapes—the flat and the bootie—to join the classic oxford. "My aim was to make more of a cohesive 'collection' and not just a random assortment of pretty textiles," Noll explains. "I wanted to keep all the silhouettes simple and not overly-designed. The rug tells such a loud story, I like having the cut of the shoe stay a little bit quieter. I also wanted to add styles that are still pretty unisex, like the oxford is, because I want anyone to be able to wear them. I've been pleasantly surprised by how even the split is between men and women who buy my shoes."
The shoes range from $160 to $250 and can be purchased from TEN & Co. online.
Images courtesy of Rene Cervantes