Hope you’re well.
I thought I’d check and in and let you know where I’m at with my large-size shoe brand, as so many of you have already been enormously helpful, and it’s gathering pace.
Firstly though, I’d like to say thank you to the kind people at River Island, who gifted me this gorgeous button-front dress, and who have been working with fashion bloggers of all different shapes and sizes as part of their new campaign called “Shape my Style”. I chose this little black number because the waistline sits in the right place (miracle!) and it’s just as lovely with flats for day as it is with heels for evening.
However, I do need some BEAUTIFUL shoes to wear it with, which — albeit tenuously — brings me to my forthcoming shoe brand. I’m aiming to launch in Spring 2019, and currently, we are on schedule. In a few weeks I’ll be starting the social media channels and revealing the brand name (I’m not trying to be irritatingly cryptic or intriguing… I just have some legal odds and ends to tie up before I can do that).
(NOTE: Not my shoe brand featured in the picture above)
In June I flew to Portugal — armed with the survey responses of a thousand shoe-less women (thank you!) — for meetings with shoe factories, mould-makers, leather tanneries, embellishment stores and packaging manufacturers. When I started this journey, I’d originally fantasised about having an all-British-made label, but sadly — bar a couple of men’s factories and a children’s shoe manufacturer — there just aren’t factories in this country making shoes anymore. It was an incredibly exciting and fruitful trip though, and I fell madly in love with the world of footwear and the people who make it. I decided on two different factories because they each specialise in particular types of shoes. As soon as I visited them, I knew immediately that they were perfect; the working conditions were great, the people were incredibly friendly and “got” what I was envisaging, and they are already working with some of the most desirable shoe brands in the UK. In Portugal, shoe-making is a craft; an art-form, and I witnessed the passion from both of the family-run businesses I’m going to be working with.
I’ve not drawn the shoes myself (you’ll be relieved to hear) but I’ve been working with a talented (and patient) shoe designer who has worked for many years with other shoe brands; (think shops you would LOVE to shop in if your feet weren’t so big). I knew she was the one when she told me she’d actually designed one of the shoes on my mood board. I gave her some detailed briefs for different styles and we worked together from thumbnail sketches to the finished product. Each of the styles is on-trend (but not in a faddy way), flattering for a long foot, and supportive enough for a tall physique (but not ugly supportive… urgh… none of that…)
My first protoype arrived two weeks ago and I literally screamed (and may have cried) when I opened the box. I’ve just never fallen in love with a pair of shoes before, and I immediately took them for a spin and out that night with my uni mates (who are now all getting foot-enlargements… obvs!) Sidenote: I’ve since been told that I shouldn’t have worn them out, that they were merely a “visual” sample before the actual samples, and that the inner wooden heel could have snapped and given me a broken ankle. But… meh… they were pretty.
It’s particularly important to me (and the business) that the fit of the shoe is just right. Naturally everyone has different shaped feet, but I’m working with a footwear technologist (who consults for one of the most covetable and respected shoe brands in the UK — again, sorry to sound cryptic!), to make sure that each shoe is proportioned and fitted correctly. I’ll also be conducting fit sessions in London with potential customers (that’s you!) over the next few weeks. I’m looking for volunteers, so if you’d like to get involved, keep your eyes on the Facebook page for updates. (I have posted a request on there for standard width size 43 wearers — thanks so much to everyone who has emailed already. Head there for more information if you’d like to get involved too).
I know there may be lots of questions — I’m guessing about price?! — which I’ll be able to answer officially over the next few months. As someone who’s only too aware that tall girls pay a lot more for their shoes, I’m working to keep the prices as low as possible. The shoes are in line with what I’d call ‘premium highstreet’ prices, but the quality is designer-worthy. Beautiful leathers, handcrafted shoes and supportive soles; not the mass-produced flimsy stuff of the lower end of the highstreet, that tend to fall apart when a six-footer wears them anyway. These are shoes to treasure. And they will be honestly priced… I’m running a business, but I also know what it’s like to be a tall girl who needs shoes!
I hope that keeps you in the loop, and doesn’t sound like I’ve missed anything major. I want to take you on this journey with me, and I want to be as transparent as possible, and create a really lovely, loyal community around the brand. So please feel free to ask any questions in the comments section, and I’ll answer any that I’m able to. Your words of encouragement so far have meant absolutely everything to me, and I just want you to open one of my shoe boxes and feel like I did two weeks ago. If that happens, I know it will all be worth it 🙂
Outfit Details: Dress is from River Island (This has been gifted, but I chose it myself and was not paid to feature it). My bag and boots are from New Look (last season), sunglasses are Accessorize and Matilda’s little rose-print dress was 4 quid from H+M.