How much do we love Tracey Neuls? We met her last week, having been admirers of her lovely shoes and beautifully crafted displays in her two London stores for a while and she turned out even better than we’d hoped for. Creative, funny and totally committed to creating beautiful, sculptural shoes that you can walk in all day.
She was also wearing a neat hot weather outfit, so let’s get that over with first….The long white shirt dress is old-ish Margaret Howell, worn with white leggings bought from Selfridges (not sure which brand) and a pair of Lipy perforated leather flats in turquoise, which are in the sale…..
We asked Tracey a few questions on her her shoe designs, ageless style, her next collaboration with Tokyo Bikes and what makes a sexy shoe.
TWR Can you tells us about what’s special about your shoes?
TN “Well, I have a single design vision, call me stupid for not following trends but with our shoes, we want you to love them. We have women who are… I don’t know if obsessed is the right word, but they love the shoes they buy from us and take them everywhere and do many amazing things in them. We often liken the shoes to little pets, that’s the emotional feeling you get from a pair.
We also meld functionality with elegance and if they are good shoes you want them to last…that’s something I feel is really important and often gets over looked. You don’t always want the latest thing each season, instead you want a beautiful thing that you’ll love, with carefully thought out details to appreciate and cherish. The factory we are working with now we couldn’t be more pleased with, because the makers really care about how they are producing the shoes and when care and love is put into the process, you get that back in final product.
I think we’re successful because we create an entire atmosphere around our shoes and the store (Tracey’s stores always have inspiring displays, right down to the creative wrapping). My design roots are incredibly minimal and it’s a bit of a weird mix because I feel everything we do is very emotional and kinetic, but same time I really want to be really minimal and beautiful. Some people are only as good as the idea they’ve knocked off someone else, but because we’ve got this constant flow of creativety, I don’t ever feel threaten by that. When it’s ever changing, then that’s our strength”
TWR We’re keen on ageless style, do you think your shoes have that?
TN “Well again, I think It comes down to not following trends. if someone says ‘smiley face cartoons are in’ and you see it everywhere on the high street and in Top Shop and you’re not doing that, then that makes it timeless. Also our shapes aren’t dictated by trends, we start from an original sculptural form, which makes them different and therefore more interesting.
We had a mother and her young daughter come in the other day and the daughter was thrilled that she could actually fit into the smallest size we do, so we can go from 11 upwards!
it’s also all about the mind frame. Here, you’re buying shoes for you and not for someone else to look at. And I bet the 11year old and 50 year old are having the same conversations in their heads …they are both confident with who they are and happy in their choices, so maybe that’s part of it too.”
TWR Talking about buying shoes for ourselves, what do you think makes a sexy shoe? You definitely don’t do the stupidly high ‘fuck me’ stiletto heel, we notice…
TN “I recently had a conversation with a customer of mine about just this subject, about what’s sexy and what’s not. What’s sexy to us is small detail, such as the way a heel form moves into your ankle and curves around it, making a continuation of flow which is totally sexy to wear and to see. There’s so much about our shoes that’s sexy but not in a conventional way, you put them on an feel a million bucks and being sexy is all about how you feel…I mean, how sexy can you be if you are impaired?
And almost every day a man comes in to the store and says ‘you have absolutely beautiful shoes’, almost every day….For six years that’s been happening!….so men absolutely get our shoes.”
MIDDLEAGEDAD ALERT! Tracey is launching men shoes for next season. Four classic styles that should be on sale by Christmas….
TWR So apart from a new mens line, what’s happening next in the Tracey Neuls world, anything interesting coming up you can tell us about?
TN “We have great collaboration coming up with Tokyo Bikes, to celebrate London Fashion Week and Design Week. We’ve produced two designs that are the perfect shape for cycling and have a grey cat’s eye reflective ribbon on the back to keep you safe. To be honest it was the perfect collaboration because it was like…Tokyo Bikes, Love!
The styles have a new rubber sole and the nice thing about it is it’s ingegrated so those days of loosing your top piece (the bit that wears down on the heel) are gone. There’s 1.5 cm of really hard rubber at the base so it’ll take a LOT of wear. It’s taken us a while to develop them but we’re really pleased with the sculptural feel and we’ve been trialling the shape with Tokyo Bikes who say it’s amazing because the pedal sits right into the heel shape and doesn’t slip.”
TWR And if we wanted to know what the best ‘starter pair’ of shoes from Tracey Neuls was, which ones would you pick for us?
TN “It would be the Geek, (below) they are so comfortable and easy to wear, the sculptural toe is beautiful and you get all the trainer-comfort aspect but you can wear them to work and then out to dinner.”
The Tokyo Bike collaboration shoes include the GEEKS (pictured above on the bike) in brown or black leather with reflective cat’s eye ribbon, at £165 and FERN (no image yet, sorry) a heeled lace up boot in grey leather with black rubber sole and cat’s eye ribbon at £250. Both available from September.