fashion

Design your own fancy footwear with Shoes of Prey

By Kitty Knowles 11 January 2016
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Summary

Ditch the January blues by making your own shoes with custom designs, fabrics and heel heights.

It may be a cliché, but a new pair of shoes can definitely put an added spring in my step.

Now you can make the drudge back into the office that bit more bearable by designing your very own pair with Shoes of Prey.

More than 5m pairs of shoes have been created on the website to date, and the business became a multi-million pound company in its first two years. Founder Jodie Fox says that the company even has its sights set on opening a physical UK store.

We spoke to Jodie Fox to find out more…

Kitty Knowles: What inspired you to start Shoes of Prey?

Jodie Fox: So I have two co-founders: Michael Fox and Mike Knapp, and the three of us founded the company together in Australia in 2009.

Shoes of Prey exists because there’s simply not enough choice in the way that shoes are made at the moment.

The majority of shoe labels are only doing sizes thirty five to forty two. No half-sizes, no width adjustments, one heel height for the season. I think it’s time that we change that.

KK: How can shoppers design their own footwear on Shoes of Prey?

JF: So when you come to Shoes of Prey you can either go into our Gallery or our Style Help section, and that’s where we’ll show you lots of beautiful designs that we’ve made before.

We actually work with designers as well – we’ve done Australian fashion week – and one of our recent collaborations was with Janie Bryant, the costume designer for Mad Men.

You can now shop the Janie Bryant collection on Shoes of Prey. Pic: Shoes of Prey.
You can now shop the Janie Bryant collection on Shoes of Prey. Pic: Shoes of Prey.

Alternatively you can jump straight into our design tool. It will present you with about between twelve and sixteen kind of base silhouettes as a starting point. From there you can choose heel heights, toe shapes, materials: there are literally trillions of options of end product.

We have more than 250 different fabrics. There’s about 10 different heel heights, 3 heel shapes, and then a whole slew of straps, embellishments and different upper shapes; everything from a pointy toe to a peep toe, a sandal shape or an Oxford.

You can even engrave your initials and emboss them in the bottom of the shoe.

The Design lab on Shoes of Prey. Pic: Shoes of prey.
The Design lab on Shoes of Prey. Pic: Shoes of prey.

How much do Shoes of Prey products cost?

The average price of a pair of shoes on our site is probably £190: that’s pretty competitive for something that you make yourself, and particularly when you compare it to like brands like Kurt Geiger, or LK Bennetts of the world.

You’re getting something that’s great quality but you’ve also had a hand in what that looks like, so it’s very much your own.

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Do you cater for everyday shoes or special occasions?

When we started out we did think we were probably a special occasion place, and we certainly do have a very, very strong bridal contingent in our business. You can order swatches for us to send to you which is really great for if you need to match a particular dress.

How many places you can get a beautiful bridal heel with a wedge on it because you’re having a beach wedding?

That said, our top five leathers are all black leathers, and what we see is women creating that perfect classic shoe and then putting a twist of their own personality into it, creating everyday shoes that are all about you.

You’re not actually just an online shop anymore are you?

Well, we used to get customers who would just turn up on our headquarters and be like ‘Hi, sorry, I’m on holidays and I’m in Sydney, can I just see a pair of shoes?’

It wasn’t that they needed to see the actual shoe they were buying, they wanted to try on our sizes, touch the leathers, and understand more about their product because we’re such a new brand.

The Shoes of Prey store in Australia. Pic: Shoes of Prey.
The Shoes of Prey store in Australia. Pic: Shoes of Prey.

We opened our first store in Sydney in January 2013, and that store has had magnificent success – it actually won the world’s best store design beating Karl Lagerfeld’s concept store in Paris.

We then approached Nordstrom, one of the best footwear retailers in the world, and we opened six stores with them across the US – we hope to open more with them in 2016.

We’ve also got a beautiful, very organic and strong following of happy customers here in the United Kingdom, and personally I love being in Europe, so there’s personal and professional reasons for us to be here too.

We’d very much like to replicate some of that holistic approach into the market that we have had in both Australia and in the US.

What support can customers get when they are making shoes with you?

All of our social media platforms, we’re generally on those 24/7, and we will sign off with our name so that you will know who it is you’re speaking to.

On top of that, in Style Help we’ve got lots of editorial content; a How To piece might be how to design a pair of shoes with a particular material – like velvet. There’s our Editors Picks and Occasion advice sections (bridal, weekend, or work). What to Wear is about lifestyle and pairings, and Design Advice is about how to perfectly create that particular element that you’re trying to put in your shoes.

The Style Help section on Shoes of Prey. Pic: Shoes of Prey.
The Style Help section on Shoes of Prey. Pic: Shoes of Prey.

Can we feel good about shopping at Shoes of Prey?

Definitely, from a sustainability perspective, we are not making hundreds of thousands of shoes and freighting them across the world, creating this huge carbon footprint, hoping that you’ll buy them, and just chucking them into a landfill if you don’t.

Instead we’re making you the one pair of shoes that you want. On top of that, any returns we receive, they either go to our press room for the media, or they go to friends and family sales.

We also have a charity in our business as well where we donate shoes for women who are underprivileged, going for job interviews, and things like that. No shoe gets wasted.

What could the future hold?

In the ideal future, manufacturing would happen in your home. You would walk up to your wardrobe, you would, there would be a screen or a hologram in there. It’s says ‘you go have a shower, I’ll print the shoes out the right pair of shoes for today’.

I think that could be the ultimate in sustainability, working with what you have and then finding a way to melt that material to down to use again.

At the moment we’re experimenting with 3D printing at heels and things like that. So it’s certainly something that’s very much on our mind. I’m super excited about that.

Watch the Shoes of Prey introduction video: