Monday, 20 April 2015

Going For Brogue

The Little Shoemaker's Kevin Rowley is a cobbler on a mission - namely, to create exquisite, affordable artisan footwear for children. Ahead of the brand's debut at Bubble S/S16, he took time away from his workshop to tell us more about traditional techniques, inspiration, and all things handmade...

Kevin, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and your professional background?

I'm based down in Brighton on the south coast. My experience in footwear spans over twenty years, and runs parallel to my work as a fine artist and college lecturer. With a passion for all things 'hand made' and especially made here in the UK, I take great pleasure in knowing I'm contributing to prolonging the British craft industry.

When and why did you decide to found The Little Shoemaker?

In 2010 when my first daughter Momoko was born, I wanted to buy a pair of shoes for her. After a long search, I bought a pair of sandals from a very high-end boutique. It was at this point I felt that there must be room for someone to make children's shoes by hand here in the UK. And that's where we began! It took a couple of years of experimenting with what worked & what didn't. And in 2012 we were ready to start in a professional capacity.

Each pair of Little Shoemaker shoes is handmade. Could you tell us a bit about this process, and what it entails? 

I wanted to return to making shoes in a more traditional & historic way, to try and step away from mass produced & synthetic materials. Therefore from start to finish, every aspect of the process is done by hand in the same way shoes were made for centuries. I start  by drawing the design on the last (form). I then create a template & cut the leather by hand, stitching all the components together to create the upper. This is followed by fitting the upper to the last to create what now starts to resemble a pair of shoes. The final part of the process is to fit the bottoms (soles) onto the uppers to create what we recognize as a pair of shoes.

In terms of the look and feel of the shoes, what inspires you?

I wanted to create a footwear range that harked back to a time when we appreciated all things 'handmade'. The styles are based on a traditional sense of design, but usually have a modern twist to them. Each pair of shoes has a story behind them and the whole process of making the shoes myself by hand is part of that journey. Making shoes by hand has a real intimacy about it - and, like a good work of art, what you're buying into is the memory of the maker's creative process. Using names such as 'Billy The Kiddy Boot' also gives a real personal feel to the shoes. I don't want people to buy them and think nothing of them again - I'd like to believe that my customers get as much fun and love out of wearing them as I get out of making them.

Why have you decided to launch The Little Shoemaker at Bubble London in July?

I'm being asked by quite a lot of potential customers about where they might be able to view my range of shoes. It makes perfect sense to make my 'launch' at Bubble.

We're looking forward to seeing you there!

You can catch up with Kevin at Bubble, too. Apply for your ticket here!  

Sunday, 19 April 2015

This Week's Best Bits

It's been a busy week here at B&S headquarters - not least, because registration for the July 2015 edition of Bubble is now open! You can apply for your free ticket here.

Elsewhere, we really enjoyed reading Bambino Goodies' post on the best eco-friendly toys, toiletries and fashion for children. A host of Bubble brands - including Frugi, Piccalilly and Danefae - made the cut.

Over at Fluxlings, the wonderful My Little Day were sharing their summer party tips. We love the pinata idea!

Finally, CWB had good news for retailers, reporting a 3.2% increase in overall sales throughout March

Which links have you loved this week?

Friday, 10 April 2015

Little Ladies

It's 'Fabulous Friday' at the Grand National - and, as racegoers don their finest frocks, we've been swooning over La Pitchoune's latest collection of Ladies Day-worthy occassionwear. 

La Pitchoune's co-founder, Loulou Bontemps, was a personal stylist whose clients often asked her to create bespoke dresses for their own daughters. As demand for her creations grew, she and fellow designer, Gemma Smith, decided to launch a luxury girlswear brand. 

Their label, La Pitchoune (which translates as 'The Little One'), made its debut appearance at Bubble in February. Unsurprisingly, it reached the finals of our Rising Star award, wowing judges with its exquisite, British-made creations. 

Loulou and Gemma are based in London, and source their fabrics (from comfortable cottons, to elegant silks) locally. Inspired by vintage dresses, fairy tales and story books, the duo create 'dreamy' partywear which is also practical and comfortable. 

CWB Magazine, Vogue Bambini and The Guardian have all tipped them for stardom - and we have to agree!

Catch La Pitchoune at Bubble London in July...

Sunday, 5 April 2015

This Week's Best Bits

Happy Easter! We hope your long-weekend is going well - whether you've been manning the till, organising egg hunts, or simply enjoying a well-deserved rest! Here are the links we've loved this week:

First up, it's La Pitchoune, which unveiled these adorable 'Bunny Bands' just in time for Easter. Made to match the Bubble brand's exquisite dresses, they'd be perfect for a spot of dressing-up.

Sticking with the Easter-theme, Little Spree shared this edit of chic festive finds - from bunny-print sleep sets, to cupcake kits. 

There was an Easter-themed birthday party over at the Babiekins blog - and we were delighted to spot a troupe of Lola Beau candle holders on top of the cake! They proved a huge hit at our A/W14 show. 

Finally, as election campaigns got underway, CWB magazine took a look at the main parties' pledges to the business sector. 

What are you doing this Easter Sunday? We'd love to hear all about it! 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Sweet April With Plumeti Rain

If ever a brand embodied the joy and optimism of spring, it was A/W14 Rising Star winner Plumeti Rain. The Spanish label creates elegant childrenswear in light, comfortable fabrics, which allow for 'running, dancing, jumping and crawling'.

Its co-founder, Laura Pena Perez, is an experienced childrenswear designer, who employs traditional techniques (think hand-embroidery and smocking) when finishing her exquisite garments. 

We were delighted when we heard that Plumeti Rain would be returning to Bubble this July, and couldn't wait to catch-up with Laura...

Laura, what has changed for Plumeti Rain since you won the Rising Star award in July 2014?

Plumeti Rain became known thanks to winning the award - and, during our second season at Bubble London, many shops came to discover our collection. We're coming back to Bubble this summer because the British and international public received our brand so well.

What are you working on at the moment?

We are working on our S/S16 collection, which will see us expand our shoe range. All the prints will be unique, and our own. 

Could you tell us a bit more about your creative process? What inspires your collections?

We choose a name for each collection, which helps us decide on shapes, patterns and styling. I am inspired by the natural world; our last collection, 'Enchanted Forest', was based on the hidden magic of nature. The prints were foxes, stars, flowers and fairies, and it also featured lots of tulle and glitter. 

What are your hopes for the future?

We'd love to keep growing, and we aim to continue creating unique garments with a story behind them. 

If you could give one piece of advice to someone launching their own childrenswear brand, what would it be?

Starting a brand is hard work, but very rewarding thanks to the customers and buyers. I think the most important piece of advice I can give is to be very clear about who your client is. That will help you progress with confidence, and make the correct decisions. 

What can we expect from Plumeti Rain next season?

The collection is unfinished, but I can say that it is very sweet and romantic. We hope you like it! 

We're sure we will! See you in July, Laura!