Words by Magnus Høst
Photography Thea Løvstad
Styling Kama Krystel
LOQ is a fresh new line of playful footwear creatively titled by combining the surnames of Keren Longkumer and Valerie Quant. Their collections are designed in the heart of Los Angeles and crafted in Spain, the duo’s focus is redefining classics for the modern day woman. These two women met back in 2011 while studying footwear design in the ”City of Angels”. Though they originate from opposite sides of the world, Valerie from Los Angeles and Keren from Nagaland in India, they managed to produce something truly exceptional and unique. They share similar and opposing sensibilities that merge California’s relaxed sensibility with the rich colours and textures of India.
Interview (Keren Longkumer, KL / Valerie Quant, VQ / Å Journal, ÅJ)
ÅJ: Two designers team up and choose to collaborate together on designing footwear for women, but both originate from opposite sides of the world. What initially drew you to fashion?
VQ – I grew up in the garment world with my family, they had started an apparel company a few years before I was born so I was always around the process of design. I loved looking at fabrics with my mother, traveling for inspiration and working in the factory with the patternmakers. It wasn’t until after college I decided I wanted something different, so I switched gears and went back to school for footwear design - this is where I met Keren.
KL - I come from a country where fashion as a career choice is an unwise decision to make. I fought many a battles with my parents, and they finally surrendered. I’ve always loved shoes, and have always spent more money buying shoes than clothing. Every time I wore a pair of new shoes I felt confident and believed I could take over the world. It was like a personality makeover, an instant boost that was very gratifying, and I wanted to develop the same feel for others through shoes. So, I went ahead and studied fashion.
ÅJ: How does this physical distance affect your work on a daily basis? Do you have assigned roles when you work together?
We are on different sides of the world, which does involve more time coordination but also allows us to cover different roles. Keren can communicate with factory regarding production, while I can work from our home base and handle the day-to-day emails from stores and customers with our team in Los Angeles. We come together to design, whether it’s through emailing drawings or during our travels to Spain.
ÅJ: What are the most essential components to running a business?
Start small and work smart – from a business and design perspective. Understand your product and customer.
ÅJ: Your designs are clearly daring and playful while still being completely wearable. Who do you imagine wearing your shoes?
From day 1 it’s been Solange. She is our dream girl, and after having seen our Xavi sandals in her “Cranes in the Sky” music video we are sure that we are doing the right thing.
ÅJ: How does your environment and backgrounds influence your collections?
California influences a relaxed sensibility in our designs. We want our shoes to feel effortless and comfortable. Plus traveling introduces us to new colours and textures.
ÅJ: Materials and colours obviously play a huge part in your collections. Can you tell us about why you choose the ones you do?
Keren and I would just obsess about colours and materials in school and we still do. We always said we liked colours we could eat and leathers that evoke an immediate sensory connection. We want to our girl to have an instant attraction.
ÅJ: The fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to pollution, but nowadays the modern consumer is said to be more responsible, aware and conscious towards this issue. Do you have any work codex or values you follow strictly in regards to environmental issues?
We work with a small factory in Spain and source local leathers for our shoes.
ÅJ: Do you imagine in near future to expand your footwear collections to include clothing too?
We really have no interest in clothing but we are interested in expanding to other categories outside of fashion.
ÅJ: Okay, enough about fashion, shoes and business. What are the few things you love that have nothing to do with this?
Food, we love experiencing new restaurants and cooking at home. Travel, it’s a novelty for us to take trips, but it really resets our minds for creativity.