Commercial Bay

Keeping It In The Family

How Pip Larner & Liz Upton Have Taken Scarpa To New Heights

Mixing family with business can sometimes come with challenges, but for the sisters behind one of Auckland’s most well-known shoe stores, Pip Larner and Liz Savage wouldn’t have it any other way. We spoke with the duo about Scarpa’s legacy and keeping it in the (stylish) family.

When you took over from your parents at the helm of Scarpa, was that the first time you’d worked with each other? What were those early years like of getting to know each other as business partners and your different approaches to business?

We have been working in the business on and off since we were teenagers - part time through school, university and even kept involved when we living overseas. Safe to say it’s an inter-generational business and we live and breathe it. We work out most mornings together to connect outside of the office. We have found this invaluable to lean on each other as sisters in a time when small businesses have faced some interesting times!

How did your approach to the buying process change during the last two years of the pandemic? And has it made you reassess your strategy for buying going forward? 

Yes it has been a challenging time for all as we haven’t been able to go on our usual buying trips for our Scarpa collections-to Milan, Paris & New York due to the borders closing. however we have been pleasantly surprised with how the designers  showcase their collections to us virtually. An example would be when we view Stella McCartney - the location is in their showroom in Milano and we have a live video conference with models walking in the footwear and handbags. This gives us 360 degree views of the product on the foot which allows us to see how it fits and how to style it, as well as all the design features and angles. However nothing beats the real life experience and we can’t wait to see our friends/designers in person on our buying trip next month!

In regards to our buying strategy yes we were mindful of having more of a casual focus in our collections during the pandemic however our designers have been inspired to bring more glamour and fun to their collections so we are excited to see our customers out and about looking fabulous and enjoying life. 

You both have an affinity for fashion, where do you look for inspiration on trends to influence your buying decisions?  

We do buy 6-12 months in advance at Scarpa which fortunately gives us a preview of trends and looks to come so we are of course inspired by our wonderful designers firstly. We are also inspired by our talented team at Scarpa who have a wealth of experience in fitting and styling so we often ask them for feedback and ensure they are involved. We want our customers to have the perfect footwear & handbag collection for their lifestyle - so we keep our customer’s needs front of mind in our buying decisions. 

Scarpa is home to some of the most sought-after shoe brands, from See By Chloe to Stuart Weitzman. As we head into Spring, which footwear brands and styles are you coveting right now?

Pip: At the moment I’m living in my Stuart Weitzman loafers - great trans seasonal style for on-the-go and perfect for travel. My Little Liffner Tulip tote is a sleek & minimalist carry-all I’ll definitely be taking it on the buying trip.

Liz: One of my favourites is iconic Parisian brand Clergerie, I'm currently wearing their lace up brogues which are ideal for running between the kids and the business while still looking stylish. I also have my eye on the divine Clergerie sandals that are due in this month, these woven platform sandals  have an articulated sole that allows flexible movement which is essential for hustling around Europe to find the perfect collections!