I was thrilled a couple of months ago when a female shoe designer got in touch to tell me about her new venture. This week, a shiny pair of sneakers from her fledgling brand Aerska arrived for me to try out! And it got me thinking; so many of my favourite shoes these days come from female shoe entrepreneurs, and our feet are all the better for it. The days of women feeling like they ought to wear heels – which thankfully have pretty much passed now – just so happened to coincide with many of the top shoe brands having a man at the helm. Hmm. Seriously, what do men know about walking in heels? How difficult it is to not fall over and, importantly, how much it HURTS! So I don’t think it’s any coincidence that with the emergence of high end female designers who favour flats, like Tabitha Simmons and Jimmy Choo’s creative director Sandra Choi, as well as high street brands like Clarks employing a huge amount of women to design and make its shoes, that a whole host of girls are trying their hand at making stylish, comfortable shoes too. And they’re doing brilliantly at it.
Aerska ‘London’ trainers, £149 (aerska.com)
Aerska is the brainchild of Gillian Davison, a serial traveller who never felt she could find the perfect shoes to walk in during the day and take her through to dinner in the evening. She has developed a luxe trainer called The London, currently available in four shades of millennial pink, mint choc chip (pictured here), black and white, that come with an extra pair of laces to switch up the look. They’re constructed from beautifully soft Italian leather and handmade in Portugal, and have lovely finishes like gold eyelets and a removable leather insole. I have an exclusive discount code for you too, which means you can get 15% off – simply enter the code ENBROGUE at check out to claim your discount. (NB: you are advised to go down a size as the fit is a little big, but I find my regular size fits me perfectly, so unless you are small for your size I would personally suggest you stick to your normal size. This is just my opinion though!)
An added bonus with Aerska is that, as with some other shoe brands like Toms and Seven Feet Apart, it is keen to give something back. On her travels Gillian was always struck by the plight of the homeless in every city she visited, and as a result gives a percentage of every sale to homeless charities.
I’ve written about most of these other brands before, but I love to champion fellow females, so here is a round up of the best of the rest of British out there right now (oh, and lots of them currently have a sale on. Yay!).
Rose was inspired to start her brand when she couldn’t find trainers that she felt were smart enough to wear to the boardroom. She’s a big fan of metallics and prints, but also offers some more minimal white sneakers. I have two pairs of the Coney low tops (middle) and they’re just lovely to wear. She also makes a brilliant party sneaker, and if you opt for a white pair they go with absolutely everything.
Penelope, as well as being a LOVELY lady, has a special place in my heart because of her absolutely unashamed love of colour. You’ll often find her sporting a pair of bright yellow trousers. A woman after my own heart! She’s well known for her espadrilles, but I’m a huge fan of her safari boots with their mega comfy crepe sole. They’re not cheap, but I’ve had mine for years and years and they’re good as new.
Left to right: Superstar velvet, £185; Crazy Chick burgundy, £169; Starstruck silver, £169; all coming soon (roguematilda.com)
Oh how I love my Rogue Matilda Birdie shoes! They give me so much joy and are the most comfortable snazzy party shoes. So I’m thrilled that on the coming soon section of the website, there are more delightful feathered options, as well as some very Ziggy Stardust lace-ups. The brand’s founder, Katie, originally started the brand to make playful brogues that were as comfortable as trainers, and I’d say she’s done exactly that.
I’ve been wearing my lovely monochrome Havva sandals this week, and they’re just as stylish and as comfortable as ever. The exact same style isn’t still available but the Sidney (pictured middle) is very similar, and this year saw the introduction of pool slides. Havva comes from a family of shoemakers – her dad is a teacher – and her vibe has a cool rock n roll edge.
You might be familiar with Dukes, founded by Daisy, who I did a collaboration with recently (there are still a few pairs of my limited edition boots available which I obviously highly recommend!). Daisy also makes super cute espadrilles and I’m particularly fond of the striped ones, as well as the incredibly reasonable price!