DISCLAIMER ALERT: The boots have been supplied by Rydale for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100% mine.
September! The start of my favourite season of the year – Autumn. Living in the south east of England, I love the warm, sunny days and the cooler nights; I love the changing colours of the countryside; but I think my favourite reason of all is that it heralds the start of “boot” season! I love my boots but I never feel comfortable wearing boots in summer – I do have an open toe heeled pair of boots but it isn’t the same. I like to wear my thick tights or socks with a pair of comfortable boots. So, I was so excited to receive a pair of uber cool suede chelsea style boots to review from outdoor country clothing and footwear company, Rydale.
Rydale is a family company established in 1954 by John Nichols and now it is in the 3rd generation, still based in the heart of Yorkshire. John Nichols was inspired by a true passion for the country lifestyle and today Rydale’s ranges of outdoor country clothing, footwear and accessories for men, women and children are truly impressive. Their website features traditional wax jackets, tweed coats, flat caps, jodhpurs, riding boots alongside skinny jeans and, my favourite, the Chelsea Boot. Rydale has invested heavily into waste management and recycling. To offset their small carbon footprint, Rydale have created a woodland and have so far planted over 10,000 trees. All Rydale’s products are inspired and designed in Yorkshire – with an emphasis on quality, reliability and style…. so did the Chelsea Boots live up to the hype??
What a silly question! They were all that I hoped and more! Let’s look more closely at Rydale’s claims…
Quality. These boots are made of the finest soft suede leather fabric and the comfortable faux leather padded interior gave the boots an almost slipper feel. I took the boots for a day and night continuous “road test” – walking around villages and fields during the day and a restaurant meal in the evening. As the heel is only low, it came as no surprise that my feet didn’t ache. What really impressed me was that they felt like slippers and weren’t clunky or cumbersome; they didn’t rub my heel nor squashed my toes; and the boot has a slightly narrow fit which suits me as I have narrow feet and am forever slipping and sliding in standard/wider footwear. 10/10
2. Reliability. Obviously they are suede boots so not suitable for wearing in wet or snowy conditions. Rydale recommend cleaning with a suede protector spray. The boots have a rubber sole – I can only presume that they will be ok on an icy surface – but temperatures here are hovering around 25°C at the moment it was hard to road test the slipability factor.
3. Style. These boots definitely have the style X factor! These boots are an updated version of the original Kirby boots – which are also pretty stylish – and the colourways on offer are pretty scrumptious. My pair are in brown/plum; the other colours in the Kirby II style are Dark Green/Plum and Navy/Plum. I do so love the contrasting elasticated panel – the Plum colour is so on trend this year. 10/10
I like to wear mine with skinny jeans – in denim of all colours. Rydale do a range of skinny jeans – “Portia” – in a variety of colours from navy denim to berry. I particularly liked the Chelsea boots with Rydale’s dark brown jodhpurs – made a refreshing change from wearing them with traditional riding boots. Don’t be scared of pairing these boots with thick tights and a short tweed skirt; or embrace the current boho trend and wear with a long flowing 1970s style dress …. the possibilities are endless.
Delivery of items are quick and postage costs are pretty reasonable too – I especially appreciate the fast delivery option of 1-2 working days – I get impatient waiting for goods!! The good news for my international friends is that Rydale ship to a wide range of destinations in Europe, America and beyond.
Thank you Rydale for introducing me to your gorgeous footwear range! I’m in love!!
I’m heading down under to New Zealand this week to chat to Susan Stevens, founder & CEO of “Made With Respect”. Made With Respect’s mission is to support sustainable brands from around the world in the areas of fashion, self care, home and outdoor products; as well as educating and informing consumers of the importance of making conscious choices and living more sustainably. Sounds very impressive! Hi Susan & welcome….
Hello! My name is Susan Stevens, I live in NZ with my husband and 3 children (2 girls and a boy) aged 6, 9 and 12. I travelled extensively in my 20s with my husband, experiencing many vibrant cultures and appreciating contrasting landscapes. I have always loved spending time outdoors and at the beach and now with our children we spend almost all our free time in the water surfing. I have a huge appreciation for nature and what it provides us. I am passionate about protecting the amazing natural resources that we have been blessed with, particularly the ocean and the wildlife that we share this planet with.
What was behind the inspiration for Made With Respect?
In 2018 we launched Made With Respect, but my journey really started when I left behind a successful corporate career after experiencing a suppressive work environment and learning the importance of empowering and enabling others. In 2014 when I launched my first business working with artisan brands and overseas suppliers, I saw first hand the transparency (or lack of) in supply chains. Through my work over the past few years I’ve become gravely aware of the negative impact we as consumers have on our planet, it stirred a passion within me to create a business that made a difference whilst supporting and enabling others with a shared vision.
The stats are quite scary. If the global population reaches 9.6 billion by 2050 (currently 7.5 billion and projected to increase by 1 billion in the next 12 years), the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain our current lifestyles. Given we’ve only got one planet, that is quite a concern. Add to that the WWF 2018 Living Planet report which shows evidence that nature is dying with 60% decline in the animal population across the planet, 83% decline in freshwater species and 90% of seabirds consuming plastic. Alarmingly, if we continue with the current rate of plastic waste there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. We have to stop burying our heads and being ignorant of our behaviour because unless we change, our future looks bleak. I created Made With Respect to not only be a platform that champions sustainable brands who give a damn, but through MWR Movement, we are educating and informing consumers of the crucial role we play in the problems our planet face and through taking consistent conscious actions we can start to be part of the solution.
Your company is a proud member of “1% For The Planet” – what does that entail?
As a member of 1% for the Planet, MWR donates a minimum of 1% total revenue to approved nonprofit partners who do essential work across six core focus areas; climate, food, land, pollution, water and wildlife. So that means that every dollar Made With Respect generates gives back to the health of our planet.
Your website features brands from all around the world – from France, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Spain, Peru, Italy, USA, Ireland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Iceland, Germany, Lithuania. What criteria have you have set for brands to qualify to partner with MWR?
Brands who we partner with that design and manufacture sustainable products in self-care, fashion, home and outdoor must fall within the following 4 pillars;
Devoted to craftsmanship; making quality products that last and can be passed down through the generations.
Transparent supply chain; good working conditions, no child labour
Natural materials & natural ingredients; no chemicals or toxins (organic where possible), recycling, upcycling, regeneration and reduction of waste, embracing renewable resources and preserving the environment
Contributing to make the world a better place; supporting local or disadvantaged communities, being more than a profit driven operation
We have amazing brands who are giving back on so many fronts, not only are they operating in a circular economy, minimising waste and making the most of resources but many are contributing part of their profits to worthy causes or supporting disadvantaged communities.
We absolutely have to embrace these brands, we have to shine the spotlight on them and make them the example.
From clothing to bed linen, and lots of categories inbetween, your website caters for many. To date, what has been the most popular items/products/brands ?
Skin care, followed by children’s & women’s fashion, has been the most popular categories so far. But ideally we want to be known as a place where consumers can conveniently shop (and support) sustainable brands across categories. There are amazing sustainable brands in the market, but often they’re not easy to find as they don’t have the marketing budgets or distribution networks of the multi-nationals that are purely profit driven.
In a world where people tend to be time poor, if we can’t find what we want then we’ll resort to the easiest and most convenient option – the problem with this is often the quickest and easiest is also the most damaging and destructive. One of MWR’s goal, through our partnerships with sustainable brands, is to make it easier for consumers to find, buy and support those brands that are making a positive difference.
What’s your favourite item?
I’ve got so many favourite items and brands that I can’t name just one!
As Made With Respect is based in New Zealand, are the products on the website available to purchase worldwide?
Absolutely, our brands are located from all around the world and their products are shipped to customers around the world.
At Made With Respect we are conscious of our own carbon footprint. To ensure we operate sustainably and in order to reduce our own impact on the environment, rather than holding our brand’s products in a central warehouse, instead the brand ships directly from their workshop to our customers. There is no double handling of product and no additional packaging wastage.
I noticed on your website you have The MWR 31 Days Of Sustainable Habits Challenge – can you explain this challenge? What habit did you find was the hardest to change?
The objective of MWR 31 Days of Sustainable Habits Challenge is to show consumers we don’t need to go to extreme measures, we simply have to make more conscious choices in our everyday life to make a positive impact, we want to reinforce that small changes ultimately make a difference. I see this as being the crucial place to start, because it’s often the starting that is the hard part, once started it’s much easier to build momentum and once you start something you become more aware and more educated, education is key.
I think people can become overwhelmed when they don’t know what to do and where to start, the mentality then becomes `how can one person possibly make a difference’. What our Sustainable Habits Challenge does, is it shows consumers there are simple things they can easily implement into their lifestyle that will make a difference. For instance;
Place lint in the trash rather than wash it down the drain. Why? Because microfibres, which are too small to be caught by waste treatment plants, are responsible for 85% of shoreline pollution across the globe.
Buy natural fibres instead of synthetics materials. Why? Because they are by-products of petroleum and are non-biodegradable plus during the wash cycle these micro plastic fibres are released into our waterwaste and end up on the shoreline, eaten by wildlife and fish and polluting our foodchain.
Carry a reusable drink bottle. Why? Because 50 billion plastic drink bottles are consumed every year, for every 10 bottles, only 2 end up recycled the rest end up in landfills and polluting our oceans and beaches.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I generally wear very neutral colours; white, grey, beige, navy blue and in particular black. I’ve always felt that colour dates and may only be ‘on-trend’ for that particular season whereas neutral colours, especially black is very versatile, timeless and can be dressed up or down.
In summer you’ll mostly find me in shorts & a camisole or a little black floaty summer dress with sandals. In winter I love wearing jeans or black pants, a tee, jacket or blazer and a pair of casual white sneakers or ankle boots.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites ?
Yes, Made With Respect!
I’m a very conscious shopper (I always have been), I prefer to buy less but buy quality pieces that last and look great for years.
With MWR I always support our brands first. If I do find myself browsing in clothing shops and I see something I like I always check the label first, if it’s made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton, linen, tencel then I’ll try it on. Once you become aware, it’s amazing how easy it is to spot synthetic materials.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
At the moment I’ve got AmaElla lingerie on my wish list.
I don’t buy a new wardrobe every season. I have pieces that I’ve worn, both clothes and shoes (that get reheeled) year after year, because they are made from quality materials that wear well, wash well and last. They are designed to be timeless so they transcend fashion trends and for any pieces I do chose to take out of my wardrobe, they are always in great condition to recycle at op shops, or loved all over again when passed on to girlfriends, my mum & more recently my daughter.
Boots or Shoes?
I love ankle boots in cooler weather. A good quality & timeless style will last you years, they are so versatile with pants, jeans, dresses and skirts, you can dress them up or down.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Made With Respect.
Thank you for your interview Susan. So many important points to ponder over and the sustainable habits challenge is a start and doable. Your website features some beautiful products too – thank you for introducing us to some quality and sustainable brands.
All photographs have been published with kind permission from Susan Stevens (MWR).
During the summer I received an invite from my friend Tracy inviting my husband and I to her 50th birthday party. It was to be a “Back to the 80s” fancy dress party, to boot. Normally, I’m not a big fan of dressing up but it sounded really fun to relive memories of being a teenager in the 1980s. In 1981, I was 16 and pretty shy but by 1984 I had embraced the 1980s with fervour – I loved the big hair, the bright colours and the sexiness of the decade – and then by 1988, I swapped my blonde spiky big hair for a brunette perm and shiny tracksuits … (that part was a blip!) Make up was just as bright – and plenty of black eyeliner! I needed to get some ideas on what to wear for the party. First of all I looked at Amazon – the fancy dress outfits were mainly leg warmers, leotards and from the Flashdance film era; with a splattering of early Madonna outfits. They were very nice but wasn’t what I had once worn, so I decided to look back at some old photos to see if I could recreate my old looks.
1981 – My old bus pass aged 16! I was wearing a long black leather coat (my first purchase with my first wage packet!) and a black & gold glitter jumper.
1982 – I used to wear a lot of red and matched my outfits with red lipstick, red earrings, red handbag & red shoes! My hair was in the style of Lady Diana.
1984 – This was me aged 19 on a night out. The shirt was one of my favourites. I was wearing a faux black leather pencil knee length skirt.
1989 – perm! I kept this style until 1997 when I then had my hair cut short.
I remembered I used to love the strapless peplum dresses on a night out; my denim jacket used to take pride of place alongside my leather jacket; and if I was going to the local disco – my shiny black satin tight trousers with a yellow lace body and a yellow & black kimono style shirt; a winter’s date in the pub – fuchsia pink knitted dress with fishnets and high leg boots; or a rib knit purple maxi skirt with matching cardigan teamed with a fuchsia pink satin blouse….
In my wardrobe, I found my original denim jacket and a black string vest ….
Looking in my Bon Prix catalogue, I realised that a lot of the 1980s style were making a comeback – I found white slouchy boots, sling back shoes…
I found stirrup pants (used to be known then as ski pants); jeans with piping down the sides (I used to have a khaki pair with red piping); fishnets (haven’t really faded from the fashion scene); tight satin disco trousers and black faux leather skirts.
It was harder to recreate the make up but, not impossible. Having a pale matt foundation was no problem but I had to forego the subtle contouring or hint of blush that I favour today – in the 1980s blush was loud and proud! In 2017 I like a pale or nude lip gloss; me in 1984 favoured red or burgundy – it was really strange to wear such a bright colour. Even more embarrassing was that I found at the bottom of my make up drawer my original Charlie red lipstick….
When it came to my husband – he said he used to wear a rock band t shirt and jeans… not much different to today’s attire. He decided to join in the fun and become an iconic favourite of his in the 1980s – Axl Rose of Guns n Roses. He managed to get hold of a kilt, wig and bandana from Amazon.
In the end I got my outfit: blonde rockers wig (from Amazon); denim jacket; 80s red/black/white strapless satin dress from Envy Boutique; black fishnet faux stockings; black slingback shoes from Bon Prix.
The party was a big success… there were Baywatch star lookalikes, early Madonnas, Flashdancers, and even Slash from Guns n Roses too. We drank pimped up prosecco but I somehow thought babycham would have been great if it was still around…. then guess what I found on my supermarket shelf the other day….
What would you wear to an 80s party? Can you remember any favourite outfits from that era? Do share your stories …
Are you a lady who is 40,50,60,70, 80… and beyond? Are you frustrated trying to find an outfit that wasn’t dowdy/frumpy/boring/unflattering? Jacynth Bassett’s mother was frustrated and Jacynth became saddened at her mum’s frustration. So Jacynth launched her own online boutique and blog, the-Bias-Cut.com, for women who know that age shouldn’t limit style. I caught up with Jacynth recently to find out more. Hi Jacynth and welcome…..
Hi! I’m Jacynth. I’m 24 and the founder of the-Bias-Cut.com – Shopping With Attitude. It’s the first multi-label online premium fashion boutique that truly celebrates style at every age. I founded it straight out of graduating from studying law at Cambridge – where I was also president of the law society – using my minimal savings and some insurance money after my suitcase got stolen off a train with all my belongings in it (including some amazing Emporio Armani sandals that had been recent birthday presents from my mum!!). I developed, built and created the business entirely on my own, and now I’m one year in I can’t believe how much it’s already taken off!
What inspired you to set up “Bias-Cut.com”?
Since I was 14, my intention was to become a lawyer but, by my second year at uni, I realised it wasn’t for me. Instead my mind started to drift to business, and I knew if I were to start up my own one, it would need to be in an area I really loved. So fashion was the obvious answer. I then started thinking about how frustrated and saddened I’d become at seeing women, like my mum, being treated as invisible and irrelevant in the eyes of the fashion industry – largely because of their age and changing shape. My mum and I are very close and for years we would go shopping together, but she’d often end up fed up by a demoralising shopping experience. I began speaking to lots of other similar women, and realised there was a real problem. So that’s when I became determined to create a boutique that actually empowered and celebrated women like my mum as much as everyone else.
Your brand name certainly stands out from the crowd. – but I was wondering, is there a meaning to why you chose “the-Bias-Cut.com”as your brand name?
I wanted the name to have a direct link to fashion, and to ‘cut on the bias’ is the fashion technique where someone cuts diagonal across the grain of fabric rather than along its lines. But equally we’re about cutting through bias and ending prejudice, largely based around age, in the fashion industry. So the name is a double entendre.
I am totally in love with the “Gigi Nude Brogues” – totally gorgeous! What items are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?
They’re a lot of people’s favourites, and one of our best sellers! This season our new label POM Amsterdam is doing really well – from their fabulous fun scarves, to their jackets lined with the scarf prints. They are cut really well, and they just bring a smile to your face. But also our cashmere and our 100% cotton poplin printed shirts are always a big hit throughout the year.
Out of all the outfits, do you have any favourites?
Personally I’m a little bit obsessed with the sashenka moon midi skirt by Baum Und Pferdgarten. It is such and elegant shape, and it has pockets! And I love a cool print that also incorporates texture. Baum always cuts everything so well, from their trousers to their tops.
Your boutique is for those who like to shop with attitude – where ageism is never in style. On your website your designs are all modelled by normal women – different heights, shapes and sizes. I’m also impressed that you can search on your website for items by your body shape as well as size. Hypothetically speaking though, which famous lady would you love to see as the “face” of “Bias-Cut.Com”?
Thank you! They’re certainly feature that have gone down very well. If I’m honest I don’t see any particular famous lady being ‘the face’ of the-Bias-Cut.com, just because we’re about encouraging our customers to aspire to be the best versions of themselves, rather than someone else. But, with regards to celebrities, it would be an honour to have women such as Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Kristin Scott Thomas, Viola Davis and Christine Baranski as brand ambassadors. They all have great individual style and fabulous attitude, which is exactly what we’re all about celebrating.
You feature in your online boutique an impressive number of designers, the latest being Cove Cashmere. Are there any other new designers you are hoping to feature this year?
Yes! We have a fabulous Dutch label called Fabienne Capot coming in September with a range of lovely embroidered cotton tees, blouses and an emerald velvet blazer I keep dreaming about. We also have a few other surprises but I don’t want to spoil them all for you!
Looking ahead, what colours/patterns/styles do you predict will be popular next season (Summer or Autumn)?
Constellation map prints are going to be big in Autumn – stars are always popular, and it’s a cool progression from the classic pattern. In fact, space all round is going to be big; there’s going to be quite an intergalactic feel! Plus the other big pattern is going to be lightening bolts. Velvet is still going to be very popular, as are bell sleeves and ruffles. And forest and emerald green is going to be seen a lot, as is red. If you look at the trend reports, there are lots of other looks that are forecast to be popular, as well as lots of contradictions. But, in my opinion and from the research I’ve done, these will be the big ones.
As you are based in London, do you offer worldwide shipping?
Yes we ship to 33 countries, and have lots of happy customers overseas! And at the moment it’s free worldwide shipping on all orders over £50 to celebrate the opening of our first public pop-up shop in Greenwich, London later this month (25th-31st)!
When choosing outfits/designers to add to your collection, do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, traditional charm or bits of all those?
I have a set of rules I go by:
Everything I select has to be of a flattering cut. In other words, you shouldn’t have to be 6ft or size UK 6 to look good in it. In fact I often use my mum as the fit model as she has a very common apple shape.
Everything I select has to be of excellent quality for the price. I’ve spent a lot of time researching fabrics, so I know when it’s good or bad, or when the wrong fabric has been used. Sometimes I come across an awesome piece, but a very impractical fabric has been used, so then I won’t select it. Equally, I make sure to study the technological developments of fabrics, such as polyester, so that I don’t discard it straight away, and can spot the good quality from the poor.
Everything has a modern twist combined with a timeless appeal. Our clothes are premium, so they are more of an investment than highstreet. So the last thing I want is for a customer to feel it’s outdated within 6 months. With that in mind, I do consider the trends, but only pick pieces that subtly reference them.
I don’t want to wear the clothes, why should my customer? We’re all about celebrating style at every age, so we refuse to sell brands that patronise the older customer, or offer frumpy clothing. So I have to like everything that we sell. But equally, I make sure to keep my customers, their comments and their feedback at the forefront of my mind, so that I never end up choosing something that’s just for me.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
That’s a very good question… I’m quite a style chameleon really and I have a rather excessively extensive wardrobe that reflects that. Every outfit is a reflection of who I am and what I’m feeling that day, but that might mean wearing a girly dress and brogues one day, and on another black jeans, ankle boots and a leather biker jacket. But if I had to define my style generally it’s feminine with a funky edge.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)
I adore Maje. Their aesthetic is very me – feminine yet cool – and their cuts work well on my figure. And I wear a lot of Whistles too. Designer wise, I love Brand for their quality jeans, and for shoes I wear a lot of Rupert Sanderson and Miu Miu. I also love traditional Moschino; I’m less of a fan of it now since Jeremy Scott has taken over as I find it a bit OTT, but I have a lot of the brand from before him, and still enjoy finding vintage pieces.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
Idealistically, I would love a badass cape and a pair of Malone Souliers heeled sandals. Realistically, it’s a new crop top/sports bra and some Nike trainers for dance class!
Boots or Shoes?
That’s a tough one. It would have to be shoes because there are more varieties, so then I have more excuses to need a new pair. Plus, because I’m short, knee-high and thigh-high boots don’t work on me. But ankle boots trump all shoes for me, because they are so cute and sexy whatever the heel height!
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about the-Bias-Cut.Com.
Thanks Jacynth … and your galactic prediction sounds mighty fine to me. Just remember dear readers to look out for those stars and lightning strikes! I am so pleased that all sizes are considered at the-Bias-Cut.com – I am a UK size 10/12 and I find that a lot of companies geared towards the older woman have a starting size of UK12/14. Same goes for shoes – my feet are narrow – and a lot of shoes offered are wide fit, or extra wide. What fashion frustrations do you have, dear readers?
All photos have been published with kind permission of the-Bias-Cut.com
From Machynlleth in Wales, my guest this week is the lovely shoemaker Ruth Emily Davey who has been making handcrafted shoes designed to last for over 12 years. She began shoemaking when she was apprenticed to designer shoemaker Alan James Raddon – she still makes Alan’s designs under licence as well as having a range of her own designs too. In 2016 she travelled to Mexico and Japan to investigate the passing down of shoemaking techniques between master and apprentice; in 2013 she won a QEST scholarship to study more about tweed on the Isle of Lewis; plus she has trained to be a reflexologist so she really does know how to create shoes that benefit your feet. I caught up with Ruth recently to find out more. Hi Ruth….
Hi! My name is Ruth Emily Davey. I am a Shoemaker, trading under my label Ruth Emily Davey or RED Shoes. I make footwear for people from all walks of life from my shop in Machynlleth, Wales which I opened in May 2016. My shoes are made to the unique shape of your feet, so they are broad in the toe box, narrow under the arch and flat, which is much better for your body. They are made from bespoke Italian leathers which last for years and years and are repairable too.
What was the inspiration behind your venture into shoemaking?
I am from an art based background, so I had just finished 3 years of Art college and was a bit unsure of what to do next, lots of my friends were going on to university and I felt like I wanted to do something much more creative and hands on instead of spending hours writing about conceptual art projects. It’s all about who you know in Wales and Alan was a friend of a friend and my mum had heard he was looking for an apprentice. I went to see him, we clicked and it began as an informal apprenticeship which developed into a 5 yeas of learning how to make shoes and also how to run a business (Alan left his successful career in advertising to begin life in Wales in the 1970s). This was 12 years ago so I have been making shoes independently of Alan for 7 years. I have won several awards for my work which has really helped boost my business. I am a Balvenie Young master of craft, a QEST Scholar and a WCMT fellow and I have been on judging panels with Kevin McCloud, all of which has helped me on my way.
You still produce shoemaker Alan James Raddon’s designs under licence as well as having your own range of designs. What styles are popular requests?
So I had the need to breathe individuality into my work as well as continue the legacy of Alan’s designs after I had finished my apprenticeship and so I made a range of boots which are really popular amongst my own age group. The Shandals®, which are Alan’s creation are timeless and people of all ages wear them all over the world as they are so unique looking and really good for the feet.
Have you got a favourite style from your collection?
I have been busy making a collection of footwear using handwoven cloth from my travels and I love the combinations of leather and fabrics together, I am greatly inspired by colour.
Early in 2016 you were awarded the Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship which enabled you to visit both Mexico & Japan to investigate the passing down of techniques between master & apprentice. What were the most interesting/ surprising things that you learnt whilst in Mexico & Japan? Do you use any techniques/ideas that you learnt whilst abroad in your shoemaking nowadays?
The trip was one of the best times of my life. I got to visit small indigenous weavers in Mexico and amazing craftspeople all over Japan that continue the work of their ancestors. I learned so much about what craftsmen and women put into their work and it reaffirmed the reason why I believe making things are such an important part of our skills as human beings. I also learned a lot about the passing on of skills and how important it is to bring forward the work of our past. Like here in the UK, for example, we have a kind of devotion to the handmade product but there is masses of infrastructure to encourage us to bring workmanship from abroad instead of employing the hands of people here. It means there are thousands of young people with no skill sets and as time goes on people are becoming emptyhanded and a bit depressed. Skills are becoming lost or forgotten and I think that is criminal. There needs to be way more support for individual apprenticeships to bring back the revival of cottage industry. Children need to be taught hands on skills and creative education needs to be brought back into education to bring forward a new generation of makers and creative thinkers.
Which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of RED?
That’s a good question! Hmm Natalie Portman because she has nice feet! And I always wanted to get a power woman like Alex Polizzi in my shoes, I always see so many celebrities teetering around in high heels and their feet are so squashed it must be excruciating! I always think they would look so much better in shoes that are the right shape for their feet and COMFORTABLE so they can feel grounded and powerful and their toes would look so much better!
Looking ahead to Spring/Summer 2017 – what new colours/styles do you hope to introduce?
I can make shoes in pretty much any colour and I love seeing outside inspirations coming through people’s choices, so someone can walk into the shop and choose combinations that I would never have expected to go together or they might have always dreamed about a pair of scarlet brogues or sapphire blue suedes and it’s an amazing feeling to be able to fulfil that inner desire. I recently made a pair of bright red/yellow/green brogues for a woman in her 60s who was determined to turn heads as she walks down the high-street. I love making shoes for men and and women of all ages, from all sorts of backgrounds.
Although you are based in Wales, are your shoes & boots available to purchase overseas?
I am based in Wales but have a postal order service so you can send your measurements and I post you a fitting. This means you can order my shoes from anywhere in the world. I have several customers in the USA and Australia and all over Europe. It’s always nice to meet the person you are making shoes for though and this week a lady from Sweden came all the way to my workshop to order her shoes in person.
You won a QEST scholarship in 2013 which helped you to study more about tweed on the Isle of Lewis and also enabled you to train as a reflexologist. How important was it to you that you trained in reflexology and how has it helped with your shoe designing?
I think Reflexology is such a fascinating and deeply ancient practise, I wanted to learn more about the feet from a holistic perspective and the course has been great at really understanding how important the feet are and how many ailments can be targeted through reflexes in the feet. We so often bundle the feet into shoes that are totally immovable; we have lost the connection we should have to the earth and as a result SO many problems begin with the feet. You only have to walk barefoot in grass for 10 minutes a day to feel the benefits and although I am a shoemaker I tend to be barefoot as much as possible!
With travel on my mind, if you could visit any other place to study footwear/shoemaking or just to gain inspiration – where would it be and why?
So many places… I would love to go back and spend 6 months solidly learning how to make traditional Huarches in Mexico (one day..) and in terms of fabrics there is some really interesting places all over the middle east, India and Africa. One day I will have made shoes from fabrics from every continent in celebration of the work of craftspeople all over the world.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I can normally be found wearing boring black suede ankle boots despite having access to literally any shade of any colour under the sun.. but I love unusual designers and cuts in clothing that are really original so you know you are the only one wearing it.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (apart from your own!)
I only wear my own shoes, I have tried other shoe designs that I like but it just feels wrong! I love quite understated but unusual clothes but often don’t have time to search for them. I am 8 months pregnant right now so all I am looking for are nice stretchy clothes at the second!
Boots or Shoes?
I find a short ankle boot goes with nearly everything. I also have a pair of gold brogues which I love wearing at the moment.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about you & your footwear.
Thank you Ruth for joining me on the blog today and I hope all goes well with the birth. I love the bright colours and I do so love the Shandal … in fact I would like all the shoes in your photos! 🙂 So, dear readers, what colour combinations would you go for? For me, a combination of turquoise, teal & cobalt blue would be my choice. What about you? Do share your thoughts, I’d love to know!
All photos published with kind permission of Ruth Emily Davey.
It was all about boots last weekend in my household – a trip to London to see the West End smash hit musical, Kinky Boots. Wearing my favourite boots (not kinky, but stylish) – cowboy boots by Jeffery West – my husband and I set off to be wowed!
First stop was Piccadilly Arcade and a visit to the iconic Jeffery West shoe shop. Although my boots are by Jeffery West, the brand is mostly male orientated. The shop oozes sophistication from the shining array of leather shoes and boots on display, the comfortable snakeskin sofa to the iconic rock posters on the wall.
Jeffery-West is the brainchild of Mark Jeffery and Guy West, who both hail from the shoe making capital of the UK, Northampton. Using an array of colours, leathers and imagination not often found in men’s footwear – if you’re looking for classic English brogues, then this is not the shop for you. The shoes and boots are inspired by actors and rock legends, such as Keith Richards, Oliver Reed, Peter O’Toole, Jarvis Cocker, Bryan Ferry, Roger Moore, Bram Stoker, Richard Burton. The footwear all have the signature red lining and even their men’s accessories, eg the leather gloves are red silk lined and the men’s briefcase is fashioned in black snakeskin and lined in red suede.
However, I was not here to merely window shop or to buy boots for myself. My husband has had a pair of Jeffery West boots on his wish list for a while. He was all smiles when he opted for some black snakeskin boots. They did look fab! As all the boots and shoes are named after icons, it was great to discover that the boots he chose were named after one of his favourite musicians, Phil Lynott.
If you fancy checking out Jeffery-West shops, you can find them online or visit their shops – they have 2 in London (Piccadilly & Cullum Street, part of Leadenhall Market); Barton Arcade in Manchester; The County Arcade in Leeds; and at 19 Christopher Street in Manhattan, New York.
Having changed into his new boots, my husband and I toddled off through the crowds that were celebrating Chinese New Year onto our next port of call, the Adelphi Theatre, to see the musical Kinky Boots. The musical, written by Harvey Fierstein, is based on the 2005 film of the same name. The film is a big favourite of mine so I was looking forward to seeing how the story would act out on stage, so to speak.
The basic plot: “Price & Son” is a fictional traditional menswear factory based in Northampton. Although Mr Price was into his shoes, his son Charlie did not have the same enthusiasm. He ups sticks and moves to London with his fiancée – then he gets a phone call telling him that his father has died. Charlie returns to Northampton and immediately everybody in the factory assumes that he’ll be taking over. Charlie finds out that the company was verging on bankruptcy, orders had been cancelled but as Mr Price couldn’t bear to see his workers suffer, he continued to make stock that was virtually useless. He thought about making the workers redundant, he thought about taking some stock to an old friend in London to shift at his store. Whilst in London, Charlie spots a lady being accosted in an alley and goes to rescue her, but he wasn’t prepared for the lady’s deadly right hook. The lady was drag queen, “Lola”. Moaning about her cheap useless boots whose heel kept falling off, Charlie & Lola collaborate to save Charlie’s factory by developing a line of high heel fetishwear sexy enough for a lady yet strong enough to support a man’s weight. There were hiccups along the way – “it has high heeled, it has to be red, and scream sex” as Lola was trying to convince the straitlaced Charlie that was the way to go. Especially as they want to make inroads into the Milan footwear catwalk show! Interlaced with the main story, was factory prejudices, “Lola’s” story and a moral ending that is not exactly what you would at first think.
My verdict: The show stuck to the plot of the film, near enough – a couple of variations that did work better on stage, for example, the background of the factory & Lola’s story featured in detail at the start of the film was condensed in the show; in the film there was a hand wrestling match – this was replaced with an awe inspiring choreographed boxing ring bout. Oh, the live drag show was spectacular – how do those blokes dance in heels? And, they were all utterly gorgeous! The songs/music were written by 1980s pop star Cyndi Lauper (remember “Girls Just Want To Have Fun”?) so the 1980s vibe was alive and kicking. I was mesmerised from start to finish – I laughed, cried, sang & danced.
Purchasing a T shirt to remember my fantastic day – I urge you all to Keep Calm and Buy Kinky – buy the DVD, buy tickets to see the Show or Film – honestly, you won’t be disappointed.
Finally I want to thank my gorgeous husband, Adam, for buying me the DVD & show tickets for Christmas – and for a brilliant London trip!
All photos are by Linda Hobden
Disclaimer: I have not been paid or sponsored to feature either Jeffery-West or Kinky Boots. The boots were purchased by my husband. I’m such an avid fan of Jeffery West that I just couldn’t let this post go by without mentioning their website!
Welcome to part 2 of my spotlight on Ozalia Australia, the makers of totally luxurious sheepskin boots. Part 1 concentrated on my interview with Aaron, the founder – to read his interview click HERE. Part 2 is my review of the Ozalia Australia boots themselves, putting Aaron’s claims to the test! DISCLAIMER ALERT: The boots have been supplied by Ozalia Australia for the purpose of this review however all opinions expressed are 100%mine.
First of all, the website – www.ozaliaboots.com. It came across to me as an easy to navigate website, clear descriptions and placing an order is simple. Although the prices are not cheap – we are talking luxury sheepskin boots of the highest quality – they are, nevertheless, very competitive, working out to roughly half the price of similar style boots by fellow luxury brand competitors.
Delivery of the boots: After you’ve placed your order, you’re provided with a tracking number. Despatch was pretty quick, arriving within 2 days. Having warehouses in both the USA & UK (for UK & Europe deliveries) as well as in Australia, makes a speedy delivery possible. Best of all, the company offer worldwide FREE shipping. When I received my package, I was impressed. Inside the large logo clad shoe box, was a logo clad tissue paper cover enclosing a sumptious black velvet bag housing the boots themselves. In with the package was a “social media” envelope enclosing a welcome card to the Ozalia Australia community and a two-sided banner card so that you can pose on Instagram and other social media places. It’s a feature that I wouldn’t take advantage of personally, however I do think that for younger Instagram fans it is quite a cool addition.
The Boots. They look luxurious, are well made and have the thickest fleece lining I have ever seen. Aaron explained that the fleece has natural lanolin which, when the boots are worn with bare feet, moisturise and soften the feet. Absolute bliss.
All Ozalia Australia’s boots come with a “warmest boot guarantee” – in other words, if the boots are not the warmest you’ve ever owned, then they will send your money back. My feet are snug as a bug in a rug! I couldn’t believe though how thick the fleece lining was and so I compared the lining with similar boots from a different brand ….
My last test was the water & stain resistant test. The boots, whilst not recommended to be worn during a blizzard or a torrential downpour, have been treated to make them water & stain resistant for at least 6 months. Aaron assured me that if I poured a glass of water over the outside of the boots, the water will just roll off. So I reluctantly took my boot, filled a glass with water and poured it over the boot. Well, what happened was …. In fact, I took a video so that the experiment could be conducted live:
My Verdict: Very snug & stylish boots indeed. Although they are not recommended for long walks in deep snow, they will certainly keep your feet warm whilst doing ordinary day to day activities. On long journeys by car, plane or train, these boots are ideal slipper substitutes. I wouldn’t recommend wearing them with thick socks and jeans – but I would recommend wearing them with a knitted dress & tights OR with leggings OR even denim shorts. I must add though, that if you are used to wearing heels, the completely flat sole will take some getting used to. I kept tripping over my own feet when I first wore them!
If you fancy these snug boots for yourself, or perhaps some moccasins, then Aaron at Ozalia Australia is offering readers of this blog 15% discount off everything in their store (www.ozaliaboots.com). Just quote the special promo code “BSF15” at the checkout.
Australian icons known globally include the sheepskin flat boots known as uggs – although the company known as UGG is just one of the Australian manufacturers that make this iconic style boot – and this week I’m talking to one such company, Ozalia Australia, about their brand and their ugg boots. This interview is a 2-parter … An interview with Aaron Robbins, Founder of Ozalia Australia followed up in my next post with my review of the sheepskin boots – do they live up to Ozalia Australia’s claims? You’ll just have to wait and see! Without further ado, let me introduce you to Aaron… Hi & welcome…..
Hi! My name is Aaron Robbins, I’m 34 years old and I’m from Sydney, Australia. I’m the founder of Ozalia Australia boots.
What was the inspiration behind the founding of Ozalia Australia?
During one of my traveling adventures, I found myself in Mexico. While I was there, a lot of people were asking me where they could buy Australian Ugg boots. They were in huge demand and at that time it wasn’t possible to buy them in Mexico. (Yes, it does get cold there!) I thought, maybe I could contact UGG and open a store in Mexico, but after a bit of research, I realised how expensive they were. So I decided to start my own brand “Boots Australia” that focused on giving the highest quality to customers without breaking their bank account. That’s how it all began and since then, the business has doubled in size every year. After being away from Australia for the last 7 years I have decided to move back home. Due to its popularity in Mexico, I’m now about to launch the business under its online brand name “Ozalia Australia” selling to customers in the UK, USA and Europe.
My favourite boot from your website this season is the Icon Tall Boot. What boot styles are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season?
Our full range totals over 50 styles but over the years we have seen the most demand for 6 of those styles. Those 6 are what we are launching with in the UK, Europe and USA now. I’d say the most popular out of those 6 styles is the Icon Tall Chestnut.
Have you got a favourite style from your collection?
I really like our moccasins. They are stitched by hand and are crafted beautifully. They are super versatile as they can be styled up and worn out in the cold or also worn just relaxing at home. They are easy to slip on and off, are suitable for all age groups… and they’re unisex! As with all of our styles, after just a few wears, the extra soft merino wool lining will mold to the exact shape of your foot. It really is like walking on a custom made warm cloud!
Your company goal is to revolutionise the ugg boot world. What is so special about the boots you sell compared with other makes?
We use a very special grade of Australian fleece that’s thicker, softer and warmer than others. Because we ship direct to our customers, our boots are almost half the price of other brands. Our slogan says it all: More Warmth for Less.
Which famous person would you love to see as the “face” of Ozalia Australia?
It would have to be Australian actress Margot Robbie. She is really classy but also down to earth and fun. Having lived by the beach while she was growing up, she also embodies the Australian culture which is the root of our brand.
Although you are based in Australia, are your boots available to purchase overseas?
Yes! We have 2 warehouses in the USA and another in the UK that also ships to our European customers. All boots come with free shipping and exchanges. We also guarantee that Ozalia boots are the warmest boots you’ve ever owned, if not, we’ll give you your money back!
I hear you are an avid traveller – have you got a favourite destination? What’s number one on your travel bucket list?
I love the outdoors and could happily spend most of my day outside in the sun. For the breathtaking scenery, it’s got to be mountain climbing in the Nepalese Himalayas and for the culture, without a doubt it’s magical India. For the future, I’m looking forward to going on safari in Africa and also discovering the Arctic Circle.
With travel on my mind, if you could do a photoshoot of your boot collection anywhere in the world – where would it be and why?
There are so many places I’d love, but I guess top of the list would be Vienna, Austria. I can envisage the boots sitting on a snow covered cobblestone street, surrounded by stunning old buildings and the majestic, strikingly beautiful mountains in the background. Heaven.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
My style is pretty relaxed. Right now I’m wearing a pair of Diesel jeans, a G-Star denim shirt with a white undershirt… and of course a pair of Ozalia chestnut coloured moccasins. 🙂
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I’ve just ordered a pair of old school brown suede leather shoes. They kind of have a farmhouse style to them. A simple relaxed look with loads of character and being Clarks, they’ll be comfy. You have to be comfortable!
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc so that readers can find out more about Ozalia Australia.
Snow has already descended on parts of Canada, USA, Scotland and Northern England, heralding the start of the winter ski season in the Northern Hemisphere. It seems most fitting, therefore, to introduce onto my blog one of the finest, if not the finest (in my opinion), alpine designer fashion & ready-to-wear ski wear shop in the world – Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel. Founded in 1975 in Courchevel, Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel was named after the famous alpine skier. Maison Bernard Orchel Courchevel is more than just a shop, as I found out…..
Why did you pick Courchevel as the location for your shop?
Courchevel is a luxurious ski resort located in the French Alps, with one of the largest ski areas in the world: 3 Valleys. The ski resort hosts the most prestigious international clientele. This ski paradise is also one of the most luxurious places in the world with a high concentration of 5 star hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants and unique boutiques.
What are your most popular products?
Just like every year since forever, Moon Boots are very popular. The most popular shoe brand is Jimmy Choo, so it stands to reason that their moon boots are a great hit.
What’s new for the 2016 winter season?
Chiara Ferragni Moonboots, some exclusive Fendi Sportswear, and the launch of Balmain Man at Bernard Orcel.
What makes Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel special?
Maison Bernard Orcel offers customers the chance to unwind and relax by being surrounded by beauty and quality. Florence, the Head of House for 25 years, knows and recognises the very dear Bernard Orcel clientele. Like a real concierge, the whole Bernard Orcel team supports our customers during their stay in Courchevel for any of their requests. We offer our customers a shopping service at home. The collections (ready-to-wear or skiwear) are presented by a personal shopper from our team. Our seamstress is also at the disposal of our customers throughout the season to adjust and retouch their purchases.
Although you are in France, do you deliver worldwide?
According to the client’s wishes, we offer the possibility of a delivery service any time in Courchevel, and all over the world.
AZ Atelier, Bogner, Dsquared Ski Capsule, Fendi Ski Collection, Jet Set, Kru, Toni Sailer, Zai, Zero Ski. We also provide sales services and ski rental delivery directly into the hotel or chalet in Courchevel. This service also includes the possibility to try and buy our skiwear collections. A full service from the ski outfit to the technical equipment!
Buscemi, Emma Salimova & Ugg, Guiseppe Zanotti, Jimmy Choo, Ludwig Reiter, Santoni, Tod’s.
Fashion & Art
Bernard Orcel has invited the famous artist Leo Caillard to exhibit his work as a tribute to the classic sculpture. The exhibition, entitled “Hipster In Store”, offers an unique alliance of fashion and art through sculptures of antiquity. Dressed in a contemporary way, the gods Zeus, Hercules and the goddess Diana enter our era wearing shirt, jeans and a little dress.
Bernard Orcel, Rue du Rocher Courchevel 1850, 73120 Saint Bon Tarentaise.
So, when you next go skiing in the French Alps check out Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel and have a browse amongst the rails and enjoy the unique art exhibitions too! What a shopping experience! Dear readers, do you enjoy partaking in winter sports? Do you have a favourite skiing location?
All photos published with kind permission from Maison Bernard Orcel Courchevel.
I’m going for gold this week as my guest on the blog is Laban Roomes, founder of high-end brand Goldgenie. Specialising in luxury personalised gifts and items using pure 24K gold, Rose Gold, Platinum and Diamonds… in fact, they are best known for their decadent designs and blingworthy materials. From 24K gold shoes and embellished Apple watches to a 24K gold bike worth more than a Ferrari, there’s hardly anything in the world that can not be given the Midas touch. I caught up with Laban recently and used the golden opportunity to ask a few questions…. Hi Laban !
Hello 🙂 My name is Laban Roomes, founder of Luxury Gift and customisation services company, Goldgenie. I developed an innovative portable plating device that can gold plate pretty much any item that is conductive. Our clients include The Oscars and Emmy awards in Los Angeles, HTC, Samsung, BlackBerry, AMEX and our flagship client Lexus as well as iconic retail outlets like Harrods and Selfridges, plus a host of Celebrities including the Beckhams, Elton John, P. Diddy, Denzel Washington, Rhianna and Mark Wahlberg to name just a few.
What inspired you to launch your business venture, Goldgenie?
The business suited my character as someone that always had a keen interest in luxury goods and services. I thought better to develop something that I can do and live with a passion then just do something for the money… It just so happened that money came anyway. I also believe that the self development that occurs mentally and spiritually for oneself can be profound if approached in a certain way.
Goldgenie featured on BBC television’s programme “Dragons Den” and received backing from James Caan. Was it a nerve racking experience? What surprised you most about the experience?
Yes it was a nerve racking experience and as time went on and I was losing the support of the Dragons something switched on inside of me, the fighting extinct came alive as there was no way I was going home without the investment! What this confirmed to me is that people really do buy into people and the more you let your light shine the more powerful you are and the more you radiate and exude confidence,which everyone wants a piece of. The biggest shock was that the stairs I walked up on the Dragons Den was on a set 2 miles away from the actual studio that I appeared on and got my investment.
What products are proving popular amongst your customers so far this season for embellishing with pure 24K gold, rose gold, platinum & diamonds?
The iPhone 6s remains triumphant so far and close second is the Apple Watch and iPad. Ever since we customised the first ever iPhone way back in 2007 this has without a doubt been our best performing product to date. Finishes available are 24k Gold, Platinum, Rose Gold and Diamonds.
Out of all the products you’ve decorated, do you have a favourite item?
Not really as everything is still so fascinating to watch and see the total transformation a product undergoes during our processes – but the two I have been most proud of to date is the Neasden Temple in London and the range of Swarovski crystal encrusted iPods I personally designed for Elton John to raise funds for his EJAF charity.
Adding the Midas touch to everything from new technology to footwear, what has been the most unusual item you’ve decorated in 24K gold?
This has to be the Sultan Of Brunei’s toilet.. Or maybe a top of the range vibrator Ann Summers commissioned us to do for a well known celebrity I’m not at liberty to mention.
Your collaboration with designer shoe maker Deeasjer has resulted in an awesome limited “Pure Gold” capsule collection of Deeasjer shoes each incorporating 24K gold embellished heels & featuring Deeasjer’s signature brand symbol – the Rose. How did the collaboration first come about?
Goldgenie sponsored a fashion show for Deeasjer many moons ago, when the owner Charlene Beckett was designing the “Pure Gold” Capsule collection she asked me to be involved in the designs – I just had to,of course, feature 24k Gold heels.
You have expanded from the UK into the UAE … Have you any plans to expand elsewhere globally in the future?
Yes we have expanded recently to the UAE with our first retail store opening in the first week of July and have plans to open a shop in Los Angeles or Puerto Banus in Spain next year – hopefully we will be able to do both.
As you are based in the UK, do you offer embellished products or services overseas too?
Yes we do and have an award winning service that can pick up your item anywhere in the world with our secure and trackable courier service, have your item customised and returned within 14 days of pick up.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I am fortunate that whatever I put on because of my build I look good in (not bragging, of course) but I do like brands like Sisley and Paul Smith or I will get my suits made. In saying that, I also buy clothes for the fit more than the brand behind it. For footwear I love Clarkes and Cruyff shoes, brogues without a doubt are a key part of my wardrobe and Adidas.. keeping it simple.
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?
Yes, I have a passion for watches and do like online watch sites like Rolex, Patek Philipe and Brietling – I have great admiration for the Apple brand including their online and retail stores. Steve Jobs is one of my all time favourite entrepreneurs and his success to me has really made a positive impact on the world, anyone that starts their business with little or no money from a garage and grows it to be one of the richest and most cutting edge companies in the world, you just have to admire.
What’s next on your clothes/shoe/accessory wish list?
I intend to buy myself some fresh tracksuits and trainers – you can never have enough trainers.
Boots or Shoes?
That will be more Cruyff shoes – they suit me down to a T.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Goldgenie
Thank you Laban for joining me on the blog and giving the blog a touch of golden glamour. So, dear readers, have you any items that could benefit from the golden touch? I do love the golden heels and I’m sure even my trainers would benefit from a lick of gold! Wouldn’t a golden Harley Davidson look cool too?!? ..as always, share your ideas, I’d love to know what you think!
All photographs have been published with kind permission of Laban Roomes/ Goldgenie