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Ancuta Sarca sneaker kitten heel hybrid shoes Fashion East

Ancuta Sarca’s sneaker-spliced kitten heels are brilliantly weird

As the newest addition to the Fashion East line-up, the designer’s wild, upcycled hybrids are the shoes you never knew you needed

Kitten heels have historically had a bit of a bad rep when it comes to fashion – but one person who won’t hear a bad word said about them is Ancuta Sarca. Having cut her teeth during stints at Meadham Kirchoff and Ashish, the Romania-born, London-based designer has been making waves across Instagram with her brilliantly bizarre, upcycled take on the divisive, diminutively-heeled style. Intrigued? You should be.  

Trawling charity shops and car boot sales across the city, and delving into the depths of resale sites like eBay and depop to get her hands on secondhand heels and discarded Nike sneakers, it’s at this point things get weird. With each piece crafted entirely by hand in her North London studio, Sarca sets to work splicing the two. The result is a wild mash-up hybrid shoe, which somehow really (really!) works. “I like, and I think a lot of people like, the clash of masculinity and femininity,” she explains. “I love the idea that the kitten heel feminises the sportswear and the sportswear lends the kitten heel a more masculine edge.” 

Now, the designer is set to make her debut on the LFW schedule as the newest member of the Fashion East family, with her first presentation taking place on the second day of the SS20 season. Given we’re speaking a few days before the show, she’s secretive about what we can expect from both the show and her first, fully-realised collection. “We had lots of big ideas but in the end we decided it was better to let the shoes stand for themselves,” she confirms. Is she nervous about her debut? “I don’t have time to be!” she laughs.

With young, emerging designers fighting what sometimes feels like a losing battle between creativity and commerciality on a daily basis, it’s also heartening to know that, on the same day her debut offering is being presented to the public (or at least the fashion hordes), a limited edition number of styles will also land on East London concept store LN-CC’s highly curated shelves. “It’s really exciting that they were so into the fact I wanted everything to remain sustainable and hand-stitched,” says Sarca. “I have actually found a factory in Italy which have agreed to help me upcycle and keep everything 100 per cent environmentally conscious, but for now all the pairs on sale at LN-CC are ones I’ve worked on myself.” 

That’s not the last you’ll see of the designer this fashion season, though. After the dizzying success of Sports Banger’s rave-fuelled debut show in February – which saw the label go from bootleg t-shirt brand to bona fide high-fashion infiltrator – founder Jonny Banger is set to debut his sophomore collection, Pop Culture Is Trash, on Sunday night in Seven Sisters. Having teamed up with the designer on a series of repurposed and recycled looks made from surplus Sports Banger lilos then, Sarca is once again working with the label on what she calls ‘just one very special look’. Though she’s secretive about what that might entail (are we the only ones sensing a theme?), Sarca explains she’s basically fit to burst when it comes to the next few days: “I can’t wait for all to be revealed.” Honestly same.