A few months ago, a new brand got in touch with me to tell me their story. I love a shoe brand with a story, and this is one of my favourites to date.
OFKT makes shoes using offcuts of leather (that’s where they got the name), and even the dustbags, cellophane and information labels that come with the shoes are made with waste materials. So from the outset it’s clear that sustainability is at the core of this Leeds-based company’s ethos; as someone who wrote to her local Tesco when she was 10 years old to request better recycling facilities, this is music to my ears. But in my experience, sustainability doesn’t often equate to luxurious, chic footwear, which as you know, I am also a fan of. So imagine my delight when I saw these beauties!
OFKT handmade Derby shoes in berry leather, £346, youngbritishdesigners.com
The style I am wearing are an almond toe Derby with chunky kiltie flap covering the laces. I love how the kiltie hasn’t been cut into the usual tassels as it looks really unusual, and the soft berry colour is to die for. They bring any old pair of jeans up to another level of cool but also look great with a ’90s-style slip dress and roll neck sweater. This style also comes in black (below).
OFKT handmade Derby shoe in black nubuck, £346, youngbritishdesigners.com
Now, these shoes aren’t cheap at over £300. But they are traditionally made by hand in a small Yorkshire factory, so they come with the reassurance that they haven’t been produced in a sweat shop on the other side of the world. They are also a limited run, due to the small availability of fabrics used for each style, so the chances of you seeing anyone else with a pair are pretty slim.
OFKT handmade mule in black nubuck, £323, youngbritishdesigners.com
As with most ‘proper’ leather shoes, these are made from a stiff leather that will require a fair bit of wearing in; this comes as a bit of a shock if you’ve been living in trainers recently as I have, but it does mean that they will last longer than shoes made from softer leather. Try a top tip I got from my stylist friend Arabella and heat up the insides of the shoes with a hairdryer before wearing them around the house with thick socks to soften up the leather. I’d then advise ignoring the fact that they look fab with bare ankles and make your first few wears with socks (and even a cautionary blister plaster or two). It will be worth the effort!
The final word on the information card that comes with the shoes is ‘we hope you can love and upcycle our packaging’. The box in question is a lovely black one with a hinged lid and a pretty ribbon tie. On my mum’s suggestion (I think she liked the box as much as the shoes to be quite honest!) I have packed away my best Christmas decorations in the box, which will be an absolute delight to bring out of the loft next year.