It's no new revelation that travel is a good thing. It exposes us to new people, cultures, and ideas. Travel inspires us to try new things and to step out of our comfort zones. If there's anyone who can attest to these virtues, it's Nick Brown, founder of beloved espadrille and sandal brand, Soludos. One quick look at his Instagram and it's clear that the has been bitten by the travel bug, with far-flung adventures taking him from the frozen waterfalls of Iceland to the balmy beaches of Brazil. As temperatures continue to warm and we gear up to make the most of our summer travel plans, we couldn't resist the chance to catch up with the jet-setting creative, who recently returned from a whirlwind trip to India. The vibrant country provided endless inspiration for Soludos' summer collection of footwear, and, in turn, the images from his journey are sure to inspire your wildest daydreams. Read on for a quick Q&A with Brown.
Had you traveled to India before?
"I had never been to India and I have been yearning to go for ages—my mother grew up in nearby Sri Lanka so I’ve always been drawn to the region. The history and beauty of Rajasthan are immense, from the indigo washed walls of Jodhpur, the humming energy of the bazaars, the majesty of the countless palaces, to the deafening quiet of the temples, India truly is like no other place I have been."
HOW DID THE CITIES OF JODHPUR AND UDAIPUR INSPIRE YOUR SUMMER 2016 COLLECTION?
"I have always loved working with Indian fabrics. At Soludos we import genuine woven ikats and Indigo dyed textiles. We partnered with Piece & Co. to source hand-braided tassels, which are made in India for our summer gladiator tie up sandals and espadrille wedges. The vibrant deep reds and rich blues typical in Indian textiles are a constant in our collection."
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MUST-SEE PLACES IN THESE CITIES?
"The Toor Ji Ki Bawari Step Well in Jodphur was an unexpected gem—it's all but invisible from street level descending straight down to the water table through a myriad of stone steps. Built in the 17th century for the community to collect water, you could almost walk by it, but it is truly something to behold."
"In Udaipur the City Place is a labyrinth of vibrantly colored rooms. There is a stunning turquoise room in the palace with the most intricate white painted detailing of elephants and floral icons—it is breathtaking."
What five things do you never travel without?
How long were you in India?
"Unfortunately, only 9 days. We were in Jodhpur for 4 days and inner Udaipur for 3 days and in a small town outside Udaipur for 2 days."
What was your favorite part of the trip?
"We woke up early to be the first ones into the Mehrangarh Fort as the gates opened. The glowing red stone of the fort perched above Jodhpur in the early morning light is as stunning as the views over the Blue City beneath it. It was a magical moment."
How would describe these cities to someone who's never been before?
"Getting lost in the meandering streets of the Blue City and the markets in Jodhpur are an overwhelming and immersive experience. The gridlock and blaring hooting of tuk-tuks, holy cows, and dogs at every corner, the vigorously colorful dress of the locals and the constant hustle and bustle, all culminate in a sort of symphony of chaos that is utterly beautiful. You have to go to truly understand it, as words don't do it justice."
What kind of traveler are you—a planner, or someone who plays it by ear?
"I always like to plan about half of the trip well ahead ensuring that I have a framework going in, but then setting aside essential time to explore beyond. It's important to set aside time and space for spontaneous wandering and discoveries."
Tell us about the incredible architecture of India.
"I don’t even know where to start as it is everywhere. It’s so easy to get transfixed by the magnitude and scale of some of the palace facades, but often times we found ourselves most inspired by the tiny contrasted intricate etchings and paintings, whether on tiling, wall ceilings, and corner treatments."
What's one part of their culture you wish to bring back with you to the states?
"The food. I could live on North Indian food—dosas for breakfast with coconut chutney, laal maans a lamb curry typical of Rajasthan, and some aloo tikki potato pancakes. Yum."
What SOUVENIRS did you pick up along the way?
"We spent almost an entire afternoon at a wonderful fabric warehouse in Jodhpur tucked away on a busy little street in the bazaar. I brought back some traditional embroidered garments that are used to decorate cows during a colorful festival in Jodhpur. Also an epic umbrella with elephant embroidery that should provide good style and shade on the beach this summer."