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Grey City's Vikki Andrews Testifies for Seattle's Fashion Scene

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Vikki Andrews and Kyle Grant are the partners behind new shoe brand Grey City. Based out of Seattle (get the name now?), the line has been around for less than two years and has already been picked up by heavyweights like Nasty Gal, Solestruck and Nordstrom. "Our first production was in Nordstrom," said Andrews. "Everyone was like, are you sure you want to deliver to Nordstrom on your first production? They were shocked that Nordstrom even ordered."

Andrews got her start in LA where she attended FIDM for shoe design, and then returned to Seattle to start the job hunt. After going on a few interviews, she decided to try striking out on her own. Grant, a childhood friend who had been working at a men's T-shirt startup, came on soon after to help out. The duo started talking in 2011 and delivered their first collection in December of 2012. We chatted with Andrews about the shoe business and how they landed Nordstrom right out of the gate.

How Nordstrom find out about you?
"There's no real secret to what we're doing. It was just a cold email introducing ourselves. We told them we grew up with Nordstrom because that's where everybody goes in Seattle. The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is huge. In high school you go with your mom and you do all your school shopping. I lived two hours north of Seattle and we'd get a hotel room [for the occasion]. So we said that in the email and that it'd be great if they took a look at our shoes. And literally less than five minutes later the head buyer emailed us back. We were sitting in front of the computer like, here we go, shot in the dark, let's see what happens, and hit send. Their head buyer for women's shoes said they'd love to take a look. They've guided us, too, they give us advice. They've been very nice to us and have taken us under their wing."

The aesthetic of Grey City is so strong. How would you describe it and your client?
"The Grey City girl is definitely the adventurous one in the group. I draw a lot of my inspiration from the music scene—I like that punk subculture—but I like the hippie stuff too. At the same time, we're growing and we don't want to pigeonhole ourselves. People are afraid of some of our stuff. I want to reach more people."

You mentioned music and many of your shoes are named after bands. But there also seems to be a '90s pop-culture influence.
"You know, I did grow up in the '90s so maybe I did do that. A lot of people did say that our stuff looked '90s. Things creep into my brain like osmosis."

What silhouettes are you into?
"We've done so much high stuff that we're going to take it down a notch in height and simplify a bit. We like to be fresh and are moving away from the crazy, Jeffrey Campbell-esque styles for the next collection. [Picture] your go-to shoe, the one you can throw on and walk to work in and keep on all day. The bootie [trend] is still strong because it's transitional. You can wear them with jeans, with skirts, with bohemian pieces, with shorts. We've got a round-toe bootie coming out for fall."

Can you talk about the fashion scene in Seattle and how that impacts what you're doing?
"Seattle has this bad reputation of [people wearing] socks and sandals or Birkenstocks. But we have a pretty cool hipster scene on Capitol Hill. I definitely draw from that. There's a lot of [great] guy style. Maybe I'm always looking at cute dudes, I don't know, but I like the scene. And girls too, absolutely. The whole '90s thing—Seattle was just so big in the '90s with Pearl Jam and Nirvana and those types of bands and we still have that strong indie music scene going on here. Going to a show on the weekends is kind of what you do."

Is there anything else about Seattle that you think people just don't get?
"There are so many big companies here. We have Boeing, Starbucks, Costco, Microsoft. Sometimes I feel like the weather really lets people be creative. You're in a coffee shop on your computer, you're sitting inside by your fireplace, you're not distracted. And I think it helps people take on intellectual pursuits. Dolce Vita is based in Seattle [and so is] Report Signature. Remember that brand back in the '90s named Union Bay? Lake Union is the lake in the middle of Seattle. Union Bay was named after Lake Union and was based in Seattle."

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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