Made in Spain: Plomo Shoes
A culturalist of cool, Keltse Bilbao globe-trots professionally, seeking creative inspiration from the people she meets and the places she explores. This native of Spain lives in New York City and is one half of the duo behind footwear brand Plomo, which literally translates from Spanish to “lead.” Keltse and her partner Galia Katz, who is based in Mexico, are part of a new generation of Spanish shoe designers who are leading the way in contemporary style.
Fresh from a trip to Kenya, Keltse tells The Thread about her adventures in Africa, celebrity fans (which include the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker) and what it takes to craft the uniqueness of Plomo shoes.
Sketched into Reality: Plomo ‘Nuria’ Bootie
THE THREAD: How did you enjoy Kenya? And will we see an African influence for your upcoming spring 2015 line?
KELTSE BILBAO: Kenya was both fun and empowering. I travel a lot with my husband, and for this trip to Nairobi, we did a mix of volunteering and tourism. My husband is a musician/composer, and I’m passionate about the universal rights of women, so we teamed up with the Power Women Group in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa and the third largest in the world, which offers a music program for youth as well as business development aid to artisans who are women and are living with HIV and AIDS.
As an entrepreneur and a woman, I deeply believe in supporting this type of community-building, where people can learn and then in turn teach others how to support themselves. I was so inspired by these women, so you’ll see accents of things we designed together for spring ’15—like a sandal with special stitching, or beading and accessory straps that you can add to the shoe.
THE THREAD: We love how you use your cultural consciousness to elevate your design process.
KELTSE: It’s natural for me. I’m from the Basque Country—from Bilbao, like my last name—which is known for its unique culture and progressive architecture. There are great factories in Spain, where we manufacture Plomo, with rich history that have developed specialized techniques from centuries of craftsmanship. Quality is very important to us as well as producing a collection with an international attitude. I have lived everywhere—Mexico; Belgium; Miami, Florida and now New York.
THE THREAD: The craftsmanship in your designs is truly undeniable, especially the embroideries.
KELTSE: Our bestsellers are the Napa leather embroidery styles, which were part of the very first collection. I design the patterns, then work with our factory in Spain, where the milling is done by hand. The idea is to make the elegance of the materials stand out, whether the shoes are dressed up or worn comfortably.
THE THREAD: You only launched Plomo in 2010, so it must be an incredible coup to see the collection get so much support, especially from celebrity fans like Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Biel and Gwyneth Paltrow!
KELTSE: Yes, it’s a wonderful compliment! Sarah Jessica Parker is one of our biggest supporters. There are some great photos of her walking around the city and taking her kids to school, which really shows off the elegant wearability of our designs.
Stay polished in a pair of Plomo Shoes.