Duke & Dexter is a luxury London based footwear brand owned by 21-year-old Archie Hewlett…Yes he’s 21!
The brand brings to you the ‘velvet slipper with an exceptional twist’ using original contemporary designs inspired by colour trends, patterns and imagery from around the world. Archie’s shoes have been worn by the likes of Eddie Redmayne – when collecting his Best Actor Oscar in 2015, Tinie Tempah, Justin Timberlake, Jeremy Piven, Poppy Delevingne and the Ferrari racing team (just to name a few).
In 2016 business is booming as they sell to over 100 countries on all five continents and have recently launched a new collection called‘Ultimate 10′at Liberty London honoring the British Crown and nation’s servicemen…
Describe the general process you go through to conceptualise and customise your footwear designs.
Originally we started as a bespoke service by offering tailored shoes – we were not even a brand! We took the concept of customising shoes at a premium price, so we charged between £700 – £900. Then we thought about providing something that couldn’t be found on the high street, we looked at the most popular styles and started to adapt our designs from there. All our new designs come from all sorts of inspiration, we took cameras and have adapted designs from them and our about to release new camera designs. A lot of the shoes we design are original, we use Aztec print that you won’t find anywhere else because they are made especially for us.
When did you realise your desire to become involved in footwear?
There was an event I went to in 2013 and I thought to myself “I just know that everyone is going to wearing brogues.”As much as I loved brogues, from a fashion point of view I just wanted to see something different so I had a pair made for myself and that’s where the bespoke element came from. I remember people asking me where my shoes were from and I guess from here it transpired into a business.
What elements do you believe make your designs unique?
Our designs are original and exciting and we work really hard to keep this concept. Our brand is also about quality as well as design, for example our plain black men’s slip on shoe is not our most defining item but the focus of it is about having a hand crafted shoe that you can pay between £95.00 – £125.00 for in comparison to some of our competitors where you can end up paying something between £500 – £600.
“…it is about having a hand crafted shoe that you can pay between £95.00 – £125.00 for in comparison to some of our competitors where you can end up paying something between £500 – £600.”
How would you define the Duke and Dexter style?
We have our own silhouette shape, which definitely defines the brand; also, we pride our style on originality and providing a timeless shoe.
Who are some of your favourite footwear designers / brands and why?
Filling Pieces is a brand that I have a lot of respect and admiration for. Their an Amsterdam based trainer / sneaker brand and I love them because of their originality. The second brand is Common Projects, which is another sneaker brand who have cutting edge designs and they have timeless ability to create such a globally popular shoe which such clever marketing.
From personal experience, where are the best places to gain footwear design skill, knowledge / understanding?
I had never done any fashion related experience or design, I just had a lot of time to research and plan. I would say going to a fashion school would be a good route, but I think it also depends on what side of the industry you want to go into whether its creating your own line of shoe or something else. I learnt a lot my skills from trial and error and just generally giving it a go – their isn’t a recipe for success. I think one of the most important things is to have a mentor, they are always going to tell you things that you may not agree with but they also have advice that you can learn so much from. When you are given so much advice, you can also selectively take what you need.
What advice do you have for aspiring footwear designers?
I would say contact the brand you love and get inspired by, do a lot of research and build inside knowledge about the footwear market and also get experience where you can.