Duke & Dexter Exclusive Interview
Duke & Dexter is a footwear company specialising in smart slip-on shoes that have a great deal of flexibility: they are just as suitable worn at home or a black tie event. We've been following their rapid growth with a keen and beady interest since its inception in March 2013. All the shoes are totally handcrafted in Spain and Italy, while being individually designed in London for each exclusive collection. What is so astute about this brand specifically though is that they have found a niche in the market for creating high quality slip-on shoes, while still being affordable to the average consumer.
D&D are now selling to over 95 countries with selected stockists (including Nordstrom, Fenwick and Harvey Nichols Kuwait) on all 5 continents. Aligned to this, their client base includes the likes of Justin Timberlake, Ronnie Fieg, Poppy Delevingne, Tinie Tempah, Jeremy Piven, Tyson Beckford and Jannik Olander, who over the years have helped enhance D&D as a leading contemporary slip-on shoe brand. Eddie Redmayne even sported a pair when he picked up his Oscar for 'The Theory of Everything' earlier this year. Their inventive and playful use of materials and designs has put a more lighthearted spin on what has long been perceived as a stuffy sector of the footwear industry.
Looking to the future, they've just joined forces with Kurt Geiger as a retail partner and there are now plans for a pop-up concept in Liberty London store. Other brands that done this recently include Adidas, Converse and Vans. Plans regarding D&D's own independent store, as well as working with Harrods and Selfridges - will both become a reality as of 2016.
So, given the exciting ventures that Founder and Director, Archie Hewlett, is embarking on at present, we thought we'd better sit down with the man himself and discuss all things D&D.
You've had great success in the slipper market, so in terms of D&D the 'brand', to what extent would you like to expand out into other footwear?
We'll definitely be looking to further expand into different types of footwear long term, but it's not something we're heavily investing time in at the moment - the now is all about expanding our slip-on shoe range, introducing new materials (like suede, needlepoint and pony-hair) as well as launching our new collaborated designs. Too many brands try and expand too fast too quickly and consequently lose their USP and vision as a result.
What's important to you regarding D&D and what's sets you apart from your rivals?
Quality and comfort are everything - you can have the most cutting-edge designs and innovative marketing concepts, but if customers are unable to physically enjoy wearing your shoes then your band has no longevity to it. We have an incredibly loyal client base who regularly order new styles every month and we're incredibly proud of this.
We're set apart from our rivals by two key factors:
1. Our price-point - we provide fully handcrafted shoes that are made using the most premium materials at a fraction of the price to that of our competitors.
2. Our originality and range of different designs - we're constantly releasing new, innovative designs that are totally distinct and created from scratch.
Where would like to see D&D in a year's time?
We've just joined forces with Kurt Geiger so are very much looking forward to seeing D&D's stocked in Harrods and Selfridges next year as a result. We'll also be launching our first independent retail store in London later in 2016 which is a big new venture for us and one which will hopefully further D&D's reputation and personal access to customers.
Asides from this, it's all about further expanding our global reach and stockists worldwide.
In 5 years time?
You tell me!
What menswear/footwear brands should we be looking out for at the moment?
Sadly there are far too many copycats and 'every-brands' across the menswear industry right now, but the ones to watch:
Cloth Surgeon - Rav's new collection in Selfridges is so good.
Aimé Leon Dore
United Arrows and Sons
And of course Yeezy Season 1.
Footwear - has to be Common Projects
What direction do you see the Menswear industry moving in over the next few years?
First and foremost I feel it's inevitable that men's fashion is going to continue growing at exponential rates as whole - no doubt. Street-style is booming and will continue to do so but with a much bigger influence from the Japanese hype.
The sneaker world is growing faster than any with new brands emerging daily, but this can only last so long...
Thanks for your time and all the best for the future.
We've picked out some of our favourites from the collection which you can view below - while you can purchase a pair for yourself at Duke & Dexter Online Store.
Pictures courtesy of Duke & Dexter.
Written by: OJ