QUITTING the advertising business
was the best decision that British shoe designer Rupert Sanderson
Throwing in his career as an advertising account
executive, he went on to chase his true dream: to set up his own
I wasnt very happy in the shallow
world of advertising, Sanderson said from London.
As those who work in advertising know,
its a fairly unforgiving bubble world, so its probably
good preparation for the fashion industry.
The Rupert Sanderson brand is well known throughout
the United Kingdom with his shoes regularly gracing magazine pages
and earning him awards such as the British Fashion Council Accessory
Designer of the Year and Elle Style Awards Accessory Designer
of the Year.
His love affair with shoes started when he was
eight years old.
It was a pair of desert boots which I
slept in for a week, Sanderson said.
In his 20s, his interest in footwear really
He studied at the Cordwainers College in East London and during
his summer break rode a motorbike to Italy to visit shoe factories
His passion with shoes and Italy continued as he worked with Italian
masters of footwear Sergio Rossi and Bruno Magli.
It was very formative and shaped my approach
to designing and making shoes in Italy, Sanderson said.
It was essential for me to work with these
guys and has probably marked me out amongst my peers.
The namesake brand was set up nine years ago and is now considered
a major player alongside Manolo Blahnik and Jimmy Choo in the luxury
Its flattering that the business
is growing quickly, but we still have a long way to go, Sanderson
The British designer divides his time between
London and Italy, where his shoes are produced. In 2006, he bought
a controlling interest in the Bologna factory he had been working
with from his first collection.
He oversees all control from the design through to the production
and claims that no stitch gets through without agreement.
Sanderson has two stores in Mayfair and Knightsbridge
and has recently opened stand-alone stores in Hong Kong and Paris.
The store in Hong Kong was opened in March and he chose the Asian
hotspot as he believes its a brand capital of the world and
the springboard to China.
Ruperts store on the rue des Petits Champs
in Paris has a more sentimental meaning.
Since the age of 19 when I slept off a
spectacular and magical Paris night in one of the green chairs scattered
around the fountain, Ive always loved the Palais Royale,
Paris and the shop space we have found
just feel perfect for us now. Its a wonderfully Parisian
space spread over two floors, sat on top of a restaurant overlooking
the north end of the Palais Royale. Im doing it for the best
reasonsI fell in love with it and thats that.
In 2007, Sanderson announced a made to order
shoe service, available at the luxury shoe boudoir at Harrods.
Glitter, one of Sandersons most popular
shoes is crafted from Louisiana crocodile skin with a 10 cm heel.
The shoe, which is signed by the designer and accompanied by a certificate
of authenticity retails for A$5,800.
Winona, Olanda, Laura and Joyce are shoes in
Ruperts present collection. These arent just womens
names but also names of daffodils. He bought the Royal Horticultural
book at a car boot sale for 15p and it proudly sits in one of his
stores today. With over 18,000 names listed in the book, he matches
the name of the daffodil to the style of the shoe.
In the world of fashion, celebrity endorsement can make or break
a designer, but for Sanderson its not the end of the world
if a celebrity isnt walking the red carpet in his shoes.
It is undeniably a useful hook to help
raise awareness but personally it isnt important, Sanderson
Confident women of substance
are my ideal customers and the women I design for.
One of my favourite women in the world
is Cate Blanchett.
The difference between his shoes and other brands is that they arent over the top, he doesnt follow trends and they arent fussy. For the Brit, its more about simplicity, style and well made shoes that will last a lifetime.
Not only are well-heeled women applauding Sandersons
shoes: Chanels fashion maestro Karl Lagerfeld is also a fan
of the shoe designer.
Twenty ten marks the third year running of the
collaboration between the two.
It began when Lagerfeld saw a woman walking
through Chez Georges in Paris wearing Sandersons patent and
PVC platform boots from his autumnwinter
Lagerfeld thought that the boots would work
brilliantly with his next collection and approached the designer.
Based on the simplicity of Sandersons shoes, Karl and Rupert
worked together to give them a gothic, darker touch, with miniature
axes attached to the heels and blood red piping on the soles.
The Chanel collection looked to the future and the clothes teamed
with the shoes gave the models a warrior-woman edge.
Sanderson described the relationship with Lagerfeld
as a stellar fashion moment which will blossom again
Recently, Sanderson also announced a collaboration
with the Royal Opera on Verdis Aïda. Sanderson
designed shoes for a cast of over 200. It isnt the first time
the shoe designer has been involved with the opera with him also
working on The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other with the
With Sandersons brand evolving globally, he sees Australia
has an important place for his brand.
Australia is an increasingly important
market to me. They are great to do business with and have a real
passion for shoes, Sanderson said.
I dont know much about specific
Australian trends but imagine they mirror what is going on in the
wider world. There appears to be a growing interest in graceful,
flattering and beautifully crafted shoes.
His shoes are stocked in David Jones, Quincy
and Off the Runway.