Menswear: Duke + Dexter handpainted bespoke loafers
Staying dapper during lockdown needn’t be a problem: check London label Duke + Dexter’s hand-painted, bespoke loafers and get hooked on the idea, that you could have your pets follows you everywhere you go, as their in-house designer paints your favourite cuddlies on your favourite pair of loafers or boots. But you can also go for a more seasonal topic with gorgeous and colourful lilies for summer, maybe even the city you live in (‘clue is in the shoe’) or wolves, Teddy bears and big cats for winter, which will give you endless joy and a guaranteed conversational topic, wherever you go. Loved by dapper gents in the music biz, artsy sets, actors and tech millionaires, it isn’t difficult to see why being original and ‘not worn by anyone else walking this planet’ has its appeal. However, it does have a special feel to it, when you get a pair of customised shoes featuring your favourite things/people/places in your life, which is what makes them such a brilliant present too. For now, not wanting to let standards slip during lockdown or self-isolation, grab the first pair for yourself, which you can order online and get delivered to your door (dukeanddexter.com)
Duke + Dexter
D + D is a British men’s footwear label with a difference! Founded by Archie Hewlett in 2015, their design team is based in London, whilst all their shoes are handmade in Sheffield! The ‘Handmade in England’ label has to stand for something, and you’ll realise immediately when trying on, what it represents: comfort, quality…and serious swagger. The brand likes to see itself as a challenger to the classic British shoe label, bringing a bit of attitude and a rebellious touch to classic shapes. And it works! Most famously, when Brit actor Eddie Redmayne won an Oscar for his outstanding performance in ’The Theory of Everything’, wearing a pair of Duke + Dexter loafers. Loved not just by Ryan Reynolds, Tinieh Tempa, Justin Timberlake and David Beckham, their fans include big names in the music business such as Snoop Dogg and Zayn, tech-millionaires and all those who want to stand out from the crowd. Their concept of highly individual foot gear works, making an essential statement for any guy worth his salt.
Getting your initials embroidered on your clothing items is a big trend too. Most notably started by Louis Vuitton, this classic aspect of bespoke fashion pieces sits well alongside their other D + D ranges (Chelsea boots, sliders and loafers too: choose a loafer with a contrast trim, monogrammed with your initials, and if you can’t resist, get the city you live in handpainted across the front, and you’ll find yourself wearing small pieces of art on your feet.
Duke + Dexter also prides itself for using sustainably sourced materials and releases styles in very limited runs to eliminate wastage as best as possible. Clearly, that’s another advantage to producing on home soil, as this allows them to react to trends quickly, whilst being able to control supply & demand. No doubt, it aided them winning the ‘Premium Footwear Brand Of The Year’ at Drapers Footwear Awards in 2019.
Fashion attitude in multitude – collaborations
This is definitely a trend of modern times, and never has it been as important as now to be original and use a bit of street cred by a third party for whatever cudos that celebrity name brings. And Duke + Dexter is a master at that! For younger generations to relate, having their idol wear cool kit is a master stroke in branding, and Archie Hewlett know this. Having teamed up with the American actor and comedian Jonah Hill in 2017 opened up the American Markte to all those who love a ‘bit of British’ across the pond. 2019 saw D + D get into bed with Snoop Dogg. Many saw that as a proper coup, as the label produced a limited edition collection exclusively for Selfridges.
They had already partnered up with Harrods the year before in 2018, so building on that, they went one further by striking a deal with Snoop Dogg and Selfridges – a dream team scenario between celebrity – retailer – brand, we reckon! Working with the KaDeWe in Berlin was another ace move to gain international recognition, so it wasn’t a surprise at all for the world to see the D + D open their own retail outlet, and their flagship store in Earlham Street in Covent Garden opened its doors in 2016.
London’s Covent Garden
And where else, we ask?!? Duke + Dexter’s shop opened at 16 Earlham St a few years back, a place where exposure to international fashion folk is guaranteed. Sitting pretty alongside other independent labels like Paul Smith, Burberry, Fred Perry and American Vintage, this is an area that has been described as the Mecca for menswear. Stretched over 51.000m2, you can go crazy on clothes and shoe shopping, have lunch at one of the trendy bars or cafes, keep going throughout the afternoon, until you’re ready for dinner.
Shop ’til you drop is an understatement in Covent Garden, as there’s no room to drop: countless shows award-winning shows await as there are theatres strewn all over the place, famously including the Royal Opera House, the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, the Noël Coward Theatre and the Donmar Warehouse, amongst many other leading production houses. Covent Garden is buzzing 24 hours a day, so we suggest you just dive in and experience the best that London has to offer.
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