Portland bait bag clutch designer creates sneakers for Keds

Posted May 16, 2017, at 1:07 p.m.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — The bait bag clutch that has rocked Maine’s maker world is jumping categories now to sneakers. Fledgling designer Alaina Marie Harris, 29, has entered a collaboration agreement with Keds for a limited run of two new sneakers featuring her distinctive nautical style.

“I am so excited. I wish I could scream it,” said Harris, whose company Alaina Marie launched in a tiny studio in South Portland in 2014 and is manufacturing bags in Scarborough with a shop in the Old Port.

One day, two years ago, a top executive at Keds walked into her Fore Street boutique and asked the South Portland native to design a shoe for their Ladies for Ladies line, which celebrates American, female designers.

Holly Curtis, the global creative director for Keds, who lives in southern Maine, fell for Harris’ enterprise immediately. “I loved the colors, the concept, and the graphic styling of Alaina’s products,” Curtis said. “I think everyone involved is absolutely thrilled with how the shoes turned out.”

But turning the patterns of the brightly colored mesh material from lobster bait bags to slip-on and tie-up footwear was a creative challenge.

“Designing a shoe is a whole new territory, a new playground for me,” Harris, who starting working on her coastal kicks last summer, said. Designed here but manufactured by Keds, she has kept the project under wraps until this week, when the shoe is finally available.

Ked launches her “mesh waves” online Tuesday. Two dozen of the 600-limited run will be available in her boutique starting June 2.

“I can’t wait to show the world what we can do. Designing this was so exciting. I love it,” she said pointing out her signature grommet on the heel of a coral sneaker.

Alaina Marie is no stranger to exposure. Her candy-colored bags have been picked up by Anthropologie and J. Crew.

But moving from arm candy to the sneaker space has kicked open the door for more. “I love to design things that make me feel happy and beautiful,” Harris, who will not rule out expanding further, said. “In the back of my mind I have thought about things like rugs. …. I just don’t want to put any limits on it.”

Harris host a Keds kickoff party at her Portland store, Alaina Marie, 332 Fore St. from 6:30 to 9 p.m. June 2.

 

SEE COMMENTS →