It seems that everyone these days is on the ‘British’ tip, right? In America, Japan… Everyone is beginning to appreciate the styles, fashion and art that creeps through our streets; from grime music to our heritage-inspired style, the world over is at our beck and call.
Some may call it patriotic but the craftsmanship and tradition that haunts this nation is undeniable… we have Saville Row for flip sake!
As well as good ole’ Sav, we have a shoe brand that has kept us kicking for well over a Century. Loake is one of our finest shoemakers, a traditional family-owned business that has created quality, stylish footwear for men the world over. Loake make shoes for the man- not the magazine, although the attention to detail deserves nothing but the glossiest of pages. We couldn’t get enough of Andrew Loake’s ‘Style over Fashion’ attitude and had to share the treasure that is Loake. A pillar stone in English Heritage fashion.
How long has your brand been about?
Loake have been making fine, handcrafted men shoes since 1880. We estimate that we’ve made more than 50 million pairs.
Tell us a little history about the brand?
Loake is family-owned. It was set up by three Loake brothers and is now managed by fifth generation members of the Loake family. We’re a truly authentic British brand, having made footwear for British soldiers and officers in two World Wars, British Olympic teams and other high profile British sportsmen, actors and musicians. We’ve also produced some iconic designs that have become synonymous with British youth culture, such as our Brighton loafer and Royal brogue.
What is your favourite piece in the current collection?
For Spring/Summer 11 we’ve given our classic British styling a more relaxed look with thicker soles, distressed leathers and soft suedes. A favourite is the Jack suede wingtip in Blue, which has already appeared in GQ’s pick of the season’s best brogues.
What is your USP (Unique Selling Point)?
Our attention to detail is second to none. We specialise in the traditional Goodyear welted construction, which has origins that can be traced back over 300 years. The process involves some 130 craftspeople, up to 75 shoe parts and 200 different operations.
What are you trying to achieve?
To continue making the best shoes we can.
Tell us something about Loake that we’d never guess…
Rapper B.o.B. chose Loake shoes to wear for his recent Grammy Awards performance – we have very diverse appeal.
Regarding lifestyle as a whole – are there any other brands or designers that you particularly admire?
Volkswagen, which has universal appeal without reference to class.
What is your definition of style?
Retaining your individualism.
Where do you think the industry is heading?
The UK footwear industry has had a tough time, but the few shoemakers that have weathered the storm are beginning to reap the benefits. It’s still tough economically, or course, but we are seeing a resurgence of interest in British style and manufacturing, and a realization that British-made products are some of the best available.
What was your biggest obstacle when creating the brand?
It’s something that has developed over many years. To be honest, we’re not natural brand promoters. We prefer to concentrate on what we know and do best – making shoes
What tips would you give to our readers on style maintenance?
If you’re talking about premium shoes, look after them and they’ll look and feel good for many years to come. Always use a shoehorn, try to alternate your shoes (to let them dry out from natural perspiration), use a good-quality cream or wax polish and never attach rubber pieces to the sole or heel because it can ruin the balance of the shoe.
One of my style icons is the late but great Isabella Blow. Who inspires you in the style stakes?
Style doesn’t necessarily follow a particular fashion trend – so, anyone and everyone who takes enough care over their appearance.
If there is one item that every guy needs …. what would it be?
Who was it who said you can tell a lot about a man by his shoes?
What can we expect from you guys in the future?
There’s some quite progressive styling lined up for Autumn/Winter 11. We’ve combined our classic uppers with very on trend sole units. They look fantastic. Watch this space!
I don’t know Andrew- but they sure were right! A great interview by a great guy at a great brand…
What do your shoes say about you?
Keeping Style Yours,