Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Shoenista's 2009 awards - Minger of the Year

This award goes to Irregular choice for their boot-clog-thing. Some questions I have to ask about this boot-clog-thing.

Does it bend?
Can you actually walk in this?
Will Granny MacPherson miss her kilt?
Can I store my firewood in it?
Was the outsole inspiration little Johnnys junior woodworking class?
Danny, what were you thinking?

Thankyou so much to for drawing my attention to this minger, refinery 29.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Shoenistas 2009 Mutton Dressed as Lamb Award

Goes to Ronnie Wood, no contest really. Gold Uggs, Ronnie, what were you thinking? Is he a wannabee WAG perhaps?

Monday, 28 December 2009

The 2009 Shoenista / Victoria Beckham Award for Glamour

The Victoria Beckham award for glamour goes to Christian Louboutin (pictured, Vic wearing Louboutin for Rodarte credit: JustJarded)

Sunday, 27 December 2009

The Tart of the Trade Award for most copied design.

This award is named after an old shoe salesmans term for a winning style.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you, the studded strapped short biker (middle pic). I think possibly Russell and Bromley did this first, then everyone did their version. Infact I bet you can't find a shoe shop or shoe department on the UK high street that doesn't have them. I challenge you!

And judging by what I saw at Micam in September it won't be going away for 2010 - Sienna Miller - it's all your fault! (pics from The Daily Mail).

Special mention goes out to the Steve Madden 'Banglez' gladiator (top). See what you did there, Steve, you didn't copy anyone for once and you got a winner!

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Shoenista's 2009 awards - The Lady Gaga Award

Ok it's the end of the year so I've decided to hold my own blogosphere shoe awards. Number 1 is the Lady Gaga Award (AKA the WTF award) for out-there shoe design.

I'm going to award this one to Alexander McQueen.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas!

Hope you have a fabulous day and that Santa brings you the shoes of your dreams!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

More Andreia Chaves courtesy of Yatzer

Had to post some more of this girls shoe design work, can't get enough of it. From Yatzer

You ain't seen me, right? The Invisible Shoe

I love this concept by Andreia Chaves, shoe designer of Brazil. By creating a mirrored wedge shoe, your foot blends into it's environment.
Andreia is just about the most out-there shoe designer I have seen in a long long time. She says, "The fact that I grew up in a chaotic city like Sao Paulo, full of contrasts, being in contact with such diversity and constant exposure to different visual inputs, has inspired me in how I think and conceptualize my shoes. Looking at my work, I can clearly see influence coming from my South American sense of versatility. Also in the mix - what I have been experiencing in Europe."
From Yatzer

Martin Margiela to leave label of same name

Not really shoe news, but I always find it a bit sad when a designer leaves thier own label. Jil Sander has never been the same since Jil Sander left her label and I can't see this one being any different.

I loved the Martin Margiela label for it's avant garde designs, never afraid to do something that's really 'out there' and creative without being tarty or unwearable.

I also love the deconstructed website, with the index page, it's carrying the theme of the clothing right into html! Link to website

Shoes pictured on sale in Browns website. Link to buy

Sunday, 6 December 2009

New Homeys website

Dan just informed me via Facebook that his new Homeys website is now live. As well as a full range of Homeys to choose from (a good thing coz they seem to be sold out everywhere in the West End), you can also subject yourself to Dans awful jokes! Great! <-hint of sarcasm there

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Shoes and Music #2 Morrissey and err Stella McCartney do shoes

All over the web right now is the news that Morrissey and Stella McCartney are collaborating on a range of shoes. Didn't see this one coming.

Morrissey is one of our most famed vegetarian singers, have to say Mozza, you spotted a gap in the market there, because there aren't many veggy shoes for men.

What will he do? Well, I'm expecting a vegan version of the desert boot.
12 December 2009 - Edited to add: Stella just posted on her facebook page that this is a made up story. OK, own up - who started it?

Friday, 4 December 2009

Police take down dodgy Ugg websites

Story on the news yesterday about the police removing 1,219 websites claiming to sell desirable items such as Tiffany Jewellery and Ugg boots. Most are hosted in China and there are no goods for sale, they just take your money and run.

I did a quick Google for Ugg boots this morning and if you do so too, you can see that most of the Ugg sites that come up in the search are not working anymore. What a minefuield for shoppers because there are lots! Feel sorry for those that tried to buy from the dodgy sites.

At least it gives me a chance for a shameless plug for, a genuine Ugg boot store. They now have the Kensington boot back in stock (pictured) so hurry if you want a pair!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Shoes and Music #1 in a series - New Model Army

Last night at my friend Jess's house in Stokie, we were talking about old bands we loved. Jess recounted a tale of being stuck in the mosh pit at a New Model Army gig and how painful it was because of the bands' (and fans) penchant for wearing proper Northern England clogs. So I've decided to start a series on here - shoes and music, there is so much association of certain shoes with certain bands, I think it could run and run!
So - I bring you - New Model Army and clogs the clogs being the North of England type of clogs where only the sole (and not the entire shoe) is wooden.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Newspaper shoes

I love these shoes, made from newspaper strips coated in plastic then hand woven. They look fab - well done to the designer Colin Lin!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The Verdict?

I have to admit, I had better things to do than queue up all night in a rain and windstorm (!) for the Jimmy Choo for H&M collection, but all the same, I've been dying to know what it was like.
Why? Well H&M has a bit of a weird footwear offer, always looked like an afterthought and the quality is, well, meh!
H&M collabs always get tons of press - remember the Madonna range (which in the flesh, was vile, I have to be honest, here). So I guess Jimmy Choo did it for the pr (and judging by the comments from those who did queue up and buy), hoped that it sold out instantly before the rest of us could see what it was really like!

Those of you who did queue up? Well, here is a c+p of some comments from this thread on the fashion spot.

'Spent 80€ & they still are Jimmy Choo, made in China of course '
'I wasn't impressed. They were really painful on my feet (though it was said that they would get softer and more comfortable with wear since it's real leather but I didn't take the chance). They looked Ok, wasn't a "wow!" moment for me at least. I'm sure I can get something similar elsewhere for half the price and twice the comfort.'
'there were still a lot of items left untouched. And I'm really not surprised. For some of the shoes, I have no idea what they were thinking.'
'it looks like the normal h&m collection and the qaulity is so bad, I just hold a pair of "jmmy choo for H&M" shoes in my hand yesterday and they looked so trashy'

and another thing - who are these people who pay £300 per pair on ebay? Why?

A word of advice from me - if you must have Jimmy Choo at a discount price - sign up for email or Twitter alerts from a discount website. I like and there are also real snake sandals on sale at the Jimmy Choo website (pictured) for around £180. They'll look and last better and they won't cut your feet to shreds.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Does this happen to you?

You see a shoe and a bizarre thought pops into your head? I'm looking at the cruise collections on Neiman Marcus - I just showed this wooden platform to my business partner,Toby, he reckons this is, 'the kind of shoe that Grace Jones might wear to 'stamp on people's heads.' Really?

Friday, 13 November 2009

Shoe design Competition - Steve Maddens Sole Search

Here's another shoe design competition, this time from in conjunciton with Steve Madden.

What I especially love about this competition is that you upload your entry directly to their website, I have really enjoyed browsing the entries this morning. This is crowdsourcing at its best, because you can be a judge and vote for the winner!

It's also pretty different in that Steve Madden chooses the 'kits' that you can work on. Kit is what we call the last and outsole - us fashion footwear designers usdually choose from existing kit in the factory, mostly because developing your own 'kit' is expensive, so if you enter this competition, it gives you a little flavour of how a commercial designer might have to work, with existing kits and a swatch book. You have to learn to be creative within these design constraints.

Link to enter is here

The first prize is a trip to Las Vegas and New York where you get to pitch your design to Steve Madden himself!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

80's things that were uncool in the 80's. A pondering

I was a teenager in the 80's so I've a bit of a love-hate thing going on with the 80's fashion revival. For a start, the stuff that's in the stores now, the throwbacks, such as glitzy batwing sweaters was certainly not considered cool by us 80's trendies.

We were all about wearing head-to-toe black, bright red lipstick and doc marten boots. We wanted to be the 80's model Jeny Howarth (whose looks and style were the spit of noughties supermodel Agyness Deyn!). I also went through the obligatory goth phase but mustl've been a bit confused because I loved hip hop too and went to see a Public Enemy gig in all my goth finery!

I loved Duran Duran and they were hopelessly uncool in the Eighties. Now it seems to be ok to admit to liking them. Which brings me onto the reason for this post.

Reebok is rereleasing its pump hi top boot for it's 20th anniversary. I think it's actually gonna be cool this time around, yep. I can remember it certainly wasn't in the 80's. It was probably released as a 'response' to the runaway success of Nike Air.
I recall a particular party at some squatted apartment that I went to with a friend back then, it was a hip hop jam, with mc's dj, you know the sort of thing.

Well I say 'went' but they wouldn't let my friend in because he was wearing Reebok hi tops and they were considered uncool! They laughed at him.

So heres a piccie of the re-relased Pump boot in it's anniversary plumage. You know what? I tend to agree, this is cool, it must be a bit of a grower - a twenty year grower.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Moar Clogs FTW!!111!!!!

You know when a trend is a big one when Private Eye get in on the act. Supermodels cartoon from the current issue.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Everyone is talking about clogs

Before we go any further, are those imitation tanlines or some freaky kind of stockings? WTF?
Aaaanyway, the buzz around the shoe trade is clogs, clogs, clogs for SS2010.
I've posted these Chanel catwalk designs, these were part of the collection inspired by Marie Antoinette and her *cough* farm. I think it's very apt that Karl Lagerfeld should draw inspiration like this in these recent times, as the fashion world has a current Marie Antoinette, the fashion journalist Liz Jones, who feeds her pet chickens on organic pasta from Carluccios.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Balenciaga: my favourite SS2010 catwalk collection

The runway shows are over for another season and I've had time to digest what I've seen.
Alexander McQueen was an eye opener, lots of us shoe designers loved his shoes, but for me, Balenciaga was the winner this season. To be fair, I think, trend-wise it's not such a huge leap from the monochrome gladiators of last summer, but I'm in love with these designs. I've always fancied myself as a bit of a hippy, so the details on these shoes really do appeal. There seem to be tribal elements there, the most frustrating thing when I see shoes like these is that I can't get up close and touch them and examine them to see how they are made. They are so fantastic I doubt whether we'll see them in any stores.
I can dream, can't I? Especially about walking in them. The last pair of Balenciagas I fell in love with and bought, I managed one step forward after standing up and fell flat on my face - I've since admitted defeat - high heels and me, we're not friends. :( Which is shame because I'd love us to be mates.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Interview with Bespoke Footwear designer and maker Ago e Lesina

I work with a bespoke shoe maker in London and I know of many others. There has been quite alot of interest in bespoke footwear of late, the price of off-the-peg designer shoes has increased so much, it has almost reached parity with bespoke. So, why bother paying £1500 for a pair of Vuitton shoes when you can have your own unique design made just for you?

Most of the bespoke shoe makers I know make only womens but I recently came across Salvatore of Ago e Lesina, bespoke shoe makers in Italy and I thought I would ask him some questions about his business.

Salvatore says,

''I've been in bespoke shoe manufacturing for the past 15 years or so, I did my apprenticeship in Silvano Lattanzi's own hometown in the Marche region. A "forward thinking" traditionalist I recently decided to finally start a website and join in the virtual business world.''

What kind of shoes do you specialise in? ''I specialize in men's footwear but of course also make shoes for women. I think when you make men's shoes you can make women's but not necessarily the other way around as men's footwear tends to be a bit more technical.''

Do you carve your own lasts? ''I don't, I have them made by a last maker based on the measurements taken, but depending on the need, when the changes to be made are minor, I do modify standard lasts by the addition-removal method to change the form according to the clients' needed specs (adding being leather and removal consisting of the last material).''

Did you make shoes for any celebrities and if so, who are they? ''Interesting question, I have some real vip's among my clients, both in the Italian entertainment industry (TV and radio personalities, two actors and one football player) and politics (three senators, a few magistrates and one Regional President) however Italian privacy laws prevent me from disclosing their names without first attaining written consent. However, there would still be a problem as it would also be considered an illegal conflict of interest and so-called subliminal endorsement which is sanctionable by the antitrust authority (welcome to Italy!)''

What were your favourite shoes you ever designed? ''That's a tough question, every pair of shoes made feel like a sort of offspring! But I once made some plain Monk, one-strap, buttoned, walled chisel toes, made with burgundy box calf leather from Tuscany, a shoe I promised to remake for myself. Unfortunately one of the many pairs I neglected to photograph.''

Which shoe designers do you admire? ''The shoe designer-makers that inspire(d) me are Lattanzi, Ferragamo and Berluti. Lattanzi especially because he's not afraid of crossing what are sometimes arthritic fashion-for-men lines.''

Which decade was your favourite era in fashion and why? ''I think the eighties was my favorite, fashion was inspired by that pop cultural phenomena known as "Miami Vice," which helped bring back elegance and style in popular apparel for men and women, even in casual settings, an option for both young and old. I'm reminded by Sonny Crocket's Armani suits and slipper-loafers worn, against all the rules of bon ton, without socks... and what real shoe lover could condemn that short lived revolution...''

Which is your favourite kind of leather to work with? ''I love to work with box calf, its softness, lightness, beauty and strength make it ideal for luxury shoes.''

What is the future of bespoke shoe making for you? ''After all these years I still find that the smell of premium tanned leather arouses the senses, if they could only make a cologne of it, not to mention the tactile qualities. Bespoke shoemaking preserves these elements the best in the finished shoe. These are things that industrial shoemaking can never really communicate to the wearer and even less the manufacturer, overwhelmed by the odours of industrial glues. And this is why I'll be happy to continue making bespoke shoes no matter what happens to the economy, even if they should become economically unviable. But I think that will not happen anytime soon, as the Asian and Middle Eastern markets are just waking to the reality of what is best in the European footwear industry: Italian hand-made shoes.''

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Am I Freelance or full time?

I 'm often contacted by other shoe designers who either want to go freelance or already are.

Because of the recession, I'd say there are probably more of us than there used to be as companies close and there aren't so many full time roles out there. Or are there?

I want to warn my fellow UK shoe designers to exercise caution when you are approached for freelance roles. Especially if the client wants you to work with them, full time, meaning you cannot take on any other work. If they want you to work in their office, using their equipment and they dictate your holidays and they won't let you subcontract, then, for me, alarm bells would start to ring.


Well, full time freelance is a bit of an oxymoron. In the eyes of the Inland Revenue you can either be a full time employee or freelance, but not both. In a time when companies may be looking to cut costs, I am seeing more and more evidence of what is essentially a ''tax dodge'' by companies. Should you be full time freelance, the initial benefits may be great (freelance rates with full time hours), but lots of risk to you. If the company changes it's strategy, you could be out of work instantly, no pay off, no notice and because you never had time for any other clients, no work. Not good. If the HMRC gets wind of the situation, you and your 'client' could be in trouble.
So, if you are approached about a freelance role or if you are freelance and working solely for one client, you should be aware of this. The onus is on you to protect yourself. Make sure you make it clear to the client that you will work for other clients and ensure that you have time to do this. If they insist you have to book time off (which will be unpaid because you are freelance, can you see how unfair this is?), you should refuse. There are plenty of freelance websites out there where you can ask questions about a specific role and needless to say the one of freelancer or employee is a very hot topic indeed.

''Because of the potential tax benefits enjoyed by freelancers, and the reduced liability for companies who use their services (instead of hiring employees), sometimes a firm might hire a freelancer to do what is basically a full time job – the would-be employee agrees to forego some of the security that comes with employment because of the tax breaks. Be warned though, the Inland Revenue doesn’t like this, and can force companies to convert full time freelancers into employees. As a general rule freelancers should only be hired because a certain skill or general manpower is needed for a short-term project, not as an alternative to properly employing a workforce. Should a freelance contract you’re being offered sound like a quasi-full time job, then it might be worth getting advice from a lawyer or accountant as to what the tax man might say. ''

From this link:

More here on our goverments website:

and here

Thursday, 22 October 2009

New Jumbuck range now available at Shudoo

Right now I'm working on storyboards for Jumbuck for next winter, but I already helped shudoo to develop the winter 2009 collection and it's now online and available to buy.

My favourite is the Studded Fringe Cherokee (£120) pictured here on X Factor contestant Rachel.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

One for my fellow Twitterers

Ok, this is a shoe /freelance designer blog, but please please please may I be allowed to add this? Please? Because it's tights, which are kind of close to shoes (in distance).

Twitter tights. These are great. I''ve become a bit of a Twitter addict, amazing what I've found on there. Funnily enough this came from a Tweet. So here they are 'Tweet tweet.'

Buy your own on Etsy and thanks to SaveOurShoes for the Tweet.

Friday, 9 October 2009

The difference between a tribute and a knock off

Shoe news today is that Steve Madden is being taken to court by designer Alexander McQueen. Quite frankly, looking at the knock-off that they've done, (black shoe boots - top pic), I'm really not surprised.

But I'm not angry at the designer either, (ok, ok I meant the person who sent a picture of the McQueen shoe to the factory in China). I've worked lots on the High Street and the value market, I know it thrives on catwalk trends and that your employer doesn't want to see your amazing creative idea for a new shoe boot, they just want to see a version of whats on the catwalk.

Some design houses are very litigous indeed, some to the point of being a bit obsessed about it. Jimmy Choos' original account on Twitter was just full of Tweets about who was going to get the 'cease and desist' letter next. Cannot find it anymore, but I'm certain they 'went after' a kiddies train ride for having the name Choo Choo?
Some brands do not seem care at all, see Prada, who I've heard, had a deal with their outsole maker to sell the outsoles to other brands once they had done with them.

But then there's 'The Tribute', which I quite like. See my last post about Insa Heels, you'll notice that one of the designs is for an heel that looks like a pair of legs. This was probably heavily inspired by Thea Cadabras' 'Maid Shoe' from 1980 (bottom shoe pic, above), but I like the way it has been updated for the Noughties, you will note that the heel is now size zero! If I was Thea and I saw this, I'd be flattered, not mad.

Insa Heels

I've just had my attention drawn to Insa Heels, a London brand which puts out limited editions of it's designs, which are a collaboration between Designer Ruth Shaw and artist Insa. I used to work for the same company as Ruth, I'm not surprised she did her own brand, she is an amazing designer. I love the upper print and I especially love the kit, lovely tall slim heel and platform, very balanced.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Platform reaches it's zenith

Because I do lots of trend forecasting, I'm fascinated with how trends work and love to follow the cycle and forecast the waxing and waning of a trend. Platform shoes is a trend that usually lingers for at least three years, I think because once you've worn platforms, got used to your elevated status and have appreciated the way they can make you look skinny, then it's incredibly hard to come back down to earth.

So, just like in the early to mid nineties, when we last had a platform trend goin' on, everytime it gets to fashion week, I await more photos of skyscraper heels and clunking platforms.

But I reckon this trend has peaked and is now about to fade. Why? Look at these boots on the catwalk at McQueen, they are so OTT, it's as if a line is being drawn under the whole trend.
It's as if he is saying, 'enough is enough, have this monster shoe girls and then you can have no more.'
It's a platform overdose and I dunno about you, but it makes me wanna to go cold turkey.