Photos Courtesy of Ruthie Davis
New York-based designer Ruthie Davis teamed up with University of Delaware students to create a shoe collection that moves beyond fashion.
Ruthie Davis wants all women to find their inner warrior.
That’s why the esteemed shoe designer, known for her edgy footwear, created a shoe collection in conjunction with the release of the live action Mulan film on Disney+. The movie was released through the streaming service after delays in a theatrical release due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Disney X Ruthie Davis Mulan Warrior Collection encapsulates Mulan’s spirit, confidence, and female empowerment with a blend of sporty and feminine designs and the mantra “warrior” adorning each shoe.
“These shoes are just so reflective of what me and my brand stand for,” says Davis. Her brand is meant to make women feel strong, with heels tall enough to look a man right in the eye.
When Davis founded her brand in 2006, her goal was never to create pretty shoes. It was to create shoes where the worlds of athleticism and high fashion collide.
The collaboration includes five designs ranging in price from $398 to $898. The shoes are available exclusively on Davis’ website.
The Warrior 1 is a cutout platform boot with a zip heel. It comes in black and red and will make anyone tall enough to stand their ground with a 5.5-inch PVC heel. The Warrior 2 is a black and white, 5-inch wedge, platform leather sneaker with “warrior” stamped on the front. Coming in at almost 6 inches, the Warrior 3 is a sleek and sexy leather and neoprene lace-up boot with “warrior” branded boldly on the outsole. Warrior 4 is a chic and sporty platform high top, and Warrior 5 is a strappy sandal with a 4.25-inch stiletto heel.
Davis wasn’t entirely on her own for this endeavor. She mentored a group of University of Delaware students, where Davis is a part of the fashion advisory council and formed a tight-knit girl gang who coined themselves the “warrior women” while working on the collection.
“I’ve worked with students from different fashion schools and these students just had a great positive attitude and a willingness to learn,” Davis says. “It was incredible, I think I might’ve gotten more out of the experience than they did.”
Davis worked with the women over the span of a year, bringing them into her world in her studio in New York and taking them under her wing. She even brought them to the premiere of Mulan in Los Angeles in March just before the stay-at-home orders began. where they got to show their best warrior walk wearing the shoes, they helped design.
Wing Tang, who graduated in 2019 with a degree in fashion and apparel studies, describes walking the carpet as a “pinch me I’m dreaming” moment.
“That was such a surreal experience, and even today I look back at the shoes and I’m just speechless,” Tang says.
Davis got the girls to go outside of their comfort zones and got them to truly collaborate with one another instead of focusing on their college major.
“The designers were only trying to design, and the fashion merchandisers were only focusing on marketing and I went, ‘no, throw that out the window, everyone here is equal,’” Davis says.
For Nicole Pierpont, who graduated in 2019 with a fashion merchandising degree, says the experience and the freedom to be creative was refreshing.
“A lot of my classes were so [Microsoft Excel] focused, and I really needed that kick in the butt to show me that I can be creative while still caring about the business side of things,” Pierpont says.
As part of the collaboration, all the girls got to add components of their own style and personality into the shoe, something that senior apparel design major Jamie Weiner was happy to see.
“Some of the other women dressed up a little bit more than I did, I usually wear sneakers or flats because heels aren’t my thing,” Wen-Weiner says. “So, it was really cool that we were able to add our own styles and we even got to create a sort of jogger heel which was great.”
Davis says that the most gratifying part of the project was teaching the girls how to work as a team. When the project had first started, none of the girls in the group were the closest of friends. But now, they all share a forever bond.
The students agree.
“It was definitely a bonding experience, and now these girls are people that I can call my friends and always reach out to,” Pierpont says.
For more information and to view the collection, visit ruthiedavis.com.