I’ve been lucky enough to try my hand at designing my own shoes recently. Currently on sale are the En Brogue for Jemima Vine slippers, my first collaboration (there’s still time to win a pair too – read about how here). I also had the opportunity to design my perfect flat shoe for French Sole to celebrate the brand’s 25th birthday (you can read about that here). But I realise that I am REALLY LUCKY to have done both of these projects, which got me thinking: can anyone design their own shoes? Sports brands have been on board with this idea for a long time, with Nike, Converse and adidas leading the pack in the customised sneakers stakes. Grenson is also a pioneer in this area as far as leather shoes are concerned, with its G-Lab range and regular pop-ups in Liberty that allow you to pick your leathers and even add a message on the shoes if they are a gift for someone. But how about slippers and ballet pumps like the ones I had a crack at?
A friend sent me a link to Chatelles on Friday – a GORGEOUS French website, littered with fabulous illustrations (you know how much I love illustrations) and the opportunity to monogram a pair of slippers. So cute! If you can tear yourself away from the delightful sketches to look at the shoes, you’ll find you can pick from a really good selection of finishes before adding your initials (or someone else’s if they are a gift) to the front of the shoes.
An En Brogue favourite, Penelope Chilvers, has been hot on the monogram trend for a while now. They look a little more expensive than the Chatelles slippers – probably because they are – but I love this brand for its quality, and the shape of the shoe and style of lettering is just so classy. You can choose from different materials, colours and trims to really make them your own. These are available for men as well as women, should you need a special gift for a dandy chap partial to lounging around in snazzy threads.
On to ballet flats, and a website I have been meaning to mention for some time now. Upper Street specialises in bespoke shoes, so it has a brilliant ‘design your own’ function, with loads of different styles, colours and finishes. You can order swatches so that you know what the leather or material you’ve chosen is actually going to feel like, but the real bonus is the amazing choice of sizes available – from a 1.5 to 10.5 – so for those of you who wear flats because you are tall, this is an absolute dream!
Even if you’re not going to buy a pair, I recommend having a go as it’s really good fun to dream up your perfect pair of shoes. Happy designing everyone!