Malone Souliers and the MENA Region

The brand’s founder and creative director, Mary Alice Malone, sheds light on the importance and distinctiveness of the Arab customer

Luxury footwear label Malone Souliers has unveiled its latest offering: a limited edition pair of shoes produced in collaboration with Fashion Trust Arabia. Created to reflect a dual identity, the new shoes are a reinterpretation of the Marla – one of Malone Souliers’ bestselling models – with FTA’s cutout star logo and its distinctive pink and blue colors.

Malone Souliers first launched in 2014, with a collection of women’s shoes. Seven years later, the brand also includes a full men’s collection and is available at points-of-sale across the globe as well as online.

The label has been particularly successful in the Arab world, where customers’ primary concerns are luxury, quality and comfort. “As a whole, our Arab customers know luxury better than anyone else,” says Mary Alice Malone, the brand’s founder and creative director, adding that many clients from the region also favor pop-up colors, high heels and metallic sheens.

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With its high purchasing power and great affinity for luxury fashion, the Middle East is a natural market for Malone Souliers. “It’s one of our very important markets,” says Malone, “and we work very hard internally to cater to it.” Limited releases created for the Arab region include shoes made from exclusive materials, special fabrications and capsule collections. “Mules go very well,” Malone adds when referring to local women’s preferred shoe styles.

Sandals and slides tend to work best for Middle Eastern male shoppers. “Men want very different things from the stiff American and British shoe,” says Malone. “We try to go for lighter construction and soft materials. We keep things light and airy.”

While Malone admits that COVID-19 did affect sales overall, she says that Middle Eastern demand remained strong throughout the pandemic, although shopping habits did change. “We sold more kitten heels and flats, in muted and softer colors,” she says. In general, she believes, “You never stop wanting luxury, but you buy things that are more reserved.”

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Whether she’s designing footwear for men or women, Malone explains that her shoes, which are all made in Italy by skilled artisans, are often a reflection of her background in psychology. “I spend a lot of time reading about psychology,” she says. “I’m interested in what it means to be a man or a woman. From there, I go to the more technical aspect of the design – I really love the craftsmanship of shoes.”

Commenting about her support for FTA, Malone says it’s important that the world becomes aware of the great creative talents emerging from the Arab region. “As such an important luxury market, it’s important to show your own homegrown creativity and for the world to see it,” she says. “We’re proud to be supporting the next generation.”

The Malone Souliers x FTA collection is available on the Malone Souliers website, at Level Shoes in Dubai and at Villagio in Doha, Qatar, with 40% of sales proceeds benefiting FTA’s non-profit initiatives.