Ask the Expert: Shoe Maven Montana Rader’s Top Footwear Tips


It’s not every day that you meet a woman that owns 2000 pair of shoes (!!) but mainly sticks to her Prada flats. I first met accessories rental guru Montana Rader (of fame) when a fashion shoot that I had worked on needed designer rental shoes at non-sample sizes. Once I experienced her comprehensive, sortable online catalogue for rentals and quirky personality first-hand, there was no going back!

We decided to talk to the shoe maven (whose “office” is pictured above) to get the dirt on investing in designer goods, buying footwear online and what NOT to wear when it comes to statement shoes. Find out which brands she recommends, where to take your damaged stilettos and her biggest shoe pet peeve EVER!

How would you describe your business?

A well-edited contemporary shoe and jewelry rental closet for the fashion industry. I edit constantly so that my clients don’t have to waste time. There is no vintage here!

How did it all start?

As an assistant and stylist, I was always getting complimented by my clients on my choice of accessories. All the rental houses were only doing clothing and a few pair of old mismatched shoes and broken jewelry pieces. A fellow stylist suggested I start my own rental business, and the next week I got diagnosed with walking pneumonia and had to stay in bed. [While] watching the sci-fi channel I saw Field of Dreams and Indiana Jones, and I decided to build it and take the leap of faith (which on codeine cough syrup was what those two films said to me that day!).

How many pairs of shoes do you own personally?

Having worn stilettos since I was 12, I had to have all my toes broken and reset 10 years ago. Since then I primarily wear flats — Prada and Puma mostly. I don’t believe in personal excess, so I own only about 15 pairs of flats and boots; I prefer to be barefoot indoors.

For your business?

About 2000 pairs.

As a shoe expert, what brands do you think are the best value in terms of price to quality?

YSL shoes hardly ever hurt and certainly are made extremely well. I think that Fiorentini + Baker are amazing boots. They give and give [and look] better the more they are worn.

For someone who wants to invest in their first designer pair of shoes, what should they look for or consider?

Your first pair should be one you have fantasized about having and then wear it all around your apartment as soon as you get them to break it in and to learn how to carry yourself in them.

Do you think it’s OK to buy shoes online? Or is it better to try them on?

With the terrific return policies why would you ever go out to buy shoes?

What’s the best way to take care of your shoes?

The Leather Spa! [Ed’s note: It’s a very pricey service, but can perform miracles.]

What’s your biggest footwear pet peeve or tip that you’d like people to know?

I hate when I see women struggling to walk in super high heels they can’t navigate. Just because you see it in a magazine doesn’t mean it should be part of your reality. If you find the top half of your body a half a block ahead of your feet, something is terribly wrong! Also, I hate seeing toes hanging over the edge of a shoe…yuck!