Israeli Footwear Maker Naot Is Launching a Dress Shoe Line

Naot might be best known for its sandals. But now, the Israeli shoe company is making a new name for itself in the dress shoe category with a new collection that launches this fall.

“Ayelet by Naot,” the brainchild of Naot’s president of U.S. operations Ayelet Lax Levy, is the company’s new dress shoe line, which launches this fall with ten styles, ranging from kitten heels to booties. The collection is currently available for pre-order.

More from Footwear News

Lax Levy, who studied shoe design and engineering, always envisioned starting her own footwear line before she began working in U.S. operations at Naot with her father, Steve Lax, current chairman of Naot Worldwide and president of Yaleet Inc. In a post-pandemic world that emphasized comfort and style, the stars finally aligned.

“After Covid, I saw this major shift of wanting to let go of our Covid look and really dress up again,” Lax Levy told FN in an interview at the brand’s New York City flagship store, which opened in 2022. Seeing these changes, Lax Levy connected with a factory in Italy and worked with Naot’s technologists to inject the company’s trademark comfort into its new heels. The new shoes feature a four-millimeter Poron insole for comfort and an outsole made from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Each shoe also features has a small jewelry accent on the heel to emphasize a “quiet luxury” look.

“We didn’t want it to look like a comfort shoe,” Lax Levy said. “This is a shoe I could wear to an evening party or whatnot.”

Looking ahead, Lax Levy plans to build off of the learnings from this initial launch for a spring collection, which will feature higher heels. The heels in the current collection are mainly under 2.5 inches.

“The Naot name gives it the authority in comfort,” Lax Levy said. “And the Ayelet name is really allowing for a different consumer and a different brand.”

The Ayelet by Naot collection is produced in Italy, as opposed to Israel, where most of Naot’s shoes are made. However, Israel-based designers and technologists have helped work on this collection.

Naot launched in 1942 from the work of a small collective farming community, or kibbutz, in Northern Israel. Today, the family-owned business sells its sandals, sneakers and boots in the U.S. primarily through wholesale retail partners — and its two stores in New York.

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October, two of Naot’s facilities have been closed but its main factory remains open and has been outfitted with additional bomb shelters for employee safety. For employees who have been evacuated to farther cities, Naot has provided busses for them to be able to continue to come to work.

In December, Naot confirmed that its staff at its Manhattan flagship in SoHo resigned or “refused to fulfill their responsibility of servicing customers” at an event benefitting the Israeli community. The store quickly recovered after being flooded with resumes and support from the community. In addition, the company switched its website platform to be more secure and protected from targeted cyber attacks.

Despite the challenges, Lax Levy said its Israel factory exceeded production in January and February over the prior year. Sales in Israel have also been up significantly since December, which Lax Levy attributes to a combination of a strong product line and a general desire to support the local economy.

“There’s a sense of community,” Lax Levy said. “The shoes make people feel home in Israel. The brand awareness in Israel is like Coca Cola [in America].”

“There’s a sense of comfort in Naot,” added Steve Lax. “Every young Israeli knows Naot and takes it on a trip. So there’s this sense of comfort. People needed comfort and they needed to be hugged.”

Best of Footwear News

Sign up for FN's Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.