Style | Need To Now

A terrific platform for young designers

A big shoe brand gives British fashion designers a helping hand

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A terrific platform for young designers

January 17 2012
Avril Groom

It’s wonderful for young British designers that big international firms are beginning to lavish money and resources on them, recognising the gloss that their creativity can bring to high-street reputations. Latest in line is the giant Canadian shoe brand Aldo, which last autumn made show shoes, which were later produced commercially, for New York-based designer Christian Cota in its Aldo Rise project. It deemed the experiment so successful that it then put London in its sights, and for this spring it has extended the privilege to three rising fashion stars, with plans for even more next time, and with mentoring on marketing included.

Quick-wittedly, it has made these very good-value items into hot must-haves by starting early in the season with a pop-up shop at the London branch of Selfridges (just opened), where a global launch will last a month. Only then will the range go online – at Asos – before appearing in Aldo’s branches in March. And are they worth the hype? Absolutely – without even knowing their provenance, many of us were noting the luscious shoes on JW Anderson’s and Preen’s catwalks. Sketched out by designers who don’t (as yet) have their own shoe ranges, they were finished with guidance from the Aldo design team, yet truly reflect each design brand’s spring collection.

So JW Anderson’s elegant ankle-strap stilettos (second picture) have the tribal leather thronging and fringing detail of his collection, while Preen’s geometric-heeled sandals (third picture) feature the same gorgeous lace-and-pixel print or bright colour blocking as its clothes, and Mark Fast’s cheerful cutout platform courts (first picture) reflect his “holey” knits. The collection also features striped wedges and sandals by American brand Libertine. The best news is that all except one are £125, and that is only £135. This is a tripartite success for company, designers and customers – and long may it last.