Into This is a column that highlights up-and-coming fashion designers that the Teen Vogue style team is, well, into. This week, we highlight designer Santa Venetia Goods, which makes clogs that encompass a laid-back way of life.
I first discovered Santa Venetia Goods, the San Francisco slow-fashion maker of clogs, on the Instagram account @thecloglife (where I go to get all my clog knowledge). The PVC clogs, paired with brightly colored socks, stuck out to me in a feed full of more traditional (read: more muted) iterations. Santa Venetia is firmly rooted in contemporary trends, appealing to my millennial disposition.
When I purchased my first pair of clogs 10 years ago, the clacking sound of the wooden heel against linoleum floors singled me out. Now, it isn’t uncommon to hear the familiar tempo of smacks—heavier and more distinct than the clack-clack of high heels—while walking down the subway steps, in line at the food coop, or at the coolest bar in town. You’d probably find a pair of Santa Venetia’s purple metallic clogs, alongside ones from Dansko, Rachel Comey, and Lotta From Stockholm, in the closets of the coolest It girls in town.
Santa Venetia was founded by two longtime friends, Raquel Bedard and Gemma Greenhill. Greenhill, who’s from England, went to school for fashion and textile design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and worked in fashion production, which made her well suited to source manufacturers (the clogs are made to order by a couple in the Bay Area) and scale the company. Bedard, who’s from California, knew about shoe construction from her time as a cobbler. “Both Raquel and I have backgrounds that allowed us not only to think that [Santa Venetia] was doable but actually make it happen,” Greenhill tells Teen Vogue.
The inspiration for the brand came courtesy of a mutual friend who was wearing an arresting pair of vintage clogs to a Memorial Day party in 2017. “The first collection was completely based around the people that threw the party and the town [of Santa Venetia],” said Bedard. The clogs were intricately embroidered, reminiscent of ’70s folk art from California, and inspired by Bedard and Greenhill’s love of California (where they both now live).
Clogs represent more than a choice of footwear. In a way, Santa Venetia isn’t simply making clogs; they’re making shoes that define an entire way of living. Clogs encompass a lifestyle ethos that was defined in an essay by Lauren Mechling, the creator of the aforementioned Instagram account and a contributing editor at Vogue, for The New Yorker on the history and cultural relevance of the shoe. “The clog, comfortable on levels both physical and spiritual, has for me come to stand for an existence untethered to the corporate grind. Clog life is not lived off the grid but grid-adjacent. It’s a fuzzy, fancy realm, littered with alpaca sweaters, Rachel Cusk novels, and trees that grow indoors, in charmingly primitive ceramic pots,” writes Mechling. The essay mentions the long history of clogs in fashion—they were worn in bathhouses in ancient Rome and well into the 18th century—but it’s the most recent iteration of clogs that encompasses a lifestyle. Mechling’s essay, and resulting Instagram account, ushered in an era of clog life that has a cult following.
Proof that Santa Venetia clogs define a way of living: The shoes are made to order. The slow process neatly aligns with people who want to live more intentional lives. “We knew we wanted to do this in a small-scale way because we wanted to be ethical as much as we could and didn't necessarily want to get involved in making these en masse,” says Greenhill. ”They truly are made for you." Every step of the clog's creation is detailed on the brand’s website, from the small embroidery manufacturer in Los Angeles to the husband-and-wife team in San Francisco who assemble the clogs by hand. The slow-fashion, made-to-order aspect of Santa Venetia’s clogs makes them eco-conscious—since there’s no surplus of product, there’s practically no waste. And that's a characteristic that is very true to #cloglife.
Comfort also plays a big role in the construction of Santa Venetia’s shoes (the clog life thrives on being comfortable). “I really wanted to look at the shoes from the construction side of things and be able to come up with a comfortable pattern,” says Bedard. Those who have broken in a pair of clogs know it can be a painful process. Santa Venetia eschews the discomfort of traditional clogs by placing a barely noticeable foam bottom on the insole. The attention to detail that Greenhill and Bedard put into a single pair of clogs results in shoes you can wear every day and enjoy for years to come.
The surprising mix of contemporary trends (PVC, metallic leather) coupled with the traditional clog form (wooden heels, nails) creates a satisfying dissonance. “It's always a juxtaposition of something quite traditional with something that you don't expect,” says Greenhill. The next shoe on Santa Venetia’s slate? A tie-dye clog that dropped in the first week of August (and is available online now). The navy blue tie-dyed leather upper is subtly aligned with the summer’s hottest trend without diverting from the brand’s aesthetic.
Another marker of what makes Santa Venetia so special is its marketing. Scroll through the brand's Instagram and you’ll find surprisingly different ways to style clogs (think: bike shorts and button-ups and skirts instead of the typical flared denim, giving us major clog-styling inspiration). The clogs on the feed are impeccably paired with the coolest neon, lavender, and tie-dye socks. I had to ask Greenhill and Bedard: Who are your favorite sock-makers? “We love Darner socks. We would love to do some sort of collaboration with them,” said Bedard. Their other hosiery picks? Urban Outfitters, & Other Stories, and Cos.
My prediction? With Santa Venetia leading the way, clogs are becoming the new sneakers—a staple that every wardrobe should have that can be paired with everything. Clog life will be the way of life.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue