By Sikora

So it appears summer is coming to an end. Days are getting shorter, nights are getting colder and the sun is doing nothing but waving goodbye.

Met this lovely young lady a few months back and we got to talking and she mentioned she designed her own sheepskin range.
With winter coming up I thought it would be the perfect time to showcase her talent.

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‘by Sikora’ was born by heritage of its founder (half English Half Polish) along with the combination of the formidable appeal of Rural Britain and the little known Rural Poland. Add to that a real concern about waste. (They wondered what happens to most of the skins from lots of lovely woolly sheep when they are killed for meat. They found out – not very much!)
‘by Sikora’ sell high quality sheepskin slippers for those who like life to be a little less pedestrian! Their products, which are made from British sheepskins and made in Poland, not only look great but also do the job and most importantly bring a smile to your face. At present, they make a point of using small producers in rural communities in order that their business supports the core of the production process. They hope that this is something they can develop further as they grow.

Some comparisons are likely to be drawn against the infamous UGG brand, but there are some noticeable differences:

Firstly all production is kept within the EU, Secondly they always strive to use british sheepskin across their full range of products. Finally, they have tried to add a twist to alll their designs so that they are not just another sheepskin product. This is usually done through embelishing the product in some way (embossing, bows etc..)

One thing for sure is that customers will look unique and stand out with every one of their products, which is definitely something to get excited about.

I was also able to ask Johanna a few questions about her range and plans for the future. Enjoy:

What is the inspiration behind the range?
To be honest, probably just sheer bloody mindedness. I wanted to create something with a twist, something a little less pedestrian and so ran with it- possibly a little too far! The inspiration stemmed initially from the traditional mountain slippers we sell, the colours, the different elements all coming together with the ethnic twist.

What is your signature/favourite piece from the range?
The favourite piece would have to be the own designed FFY slipper. It’s cheeky and versatile- I couldn’t wait to get a pair on my feet! It was deigned to be fun and fluffy but was quickly adapted to provide a more luxe option (braided with ribbon) for those who are slightly more adventurous! They’re so incredibly soft.

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What struggles do/did you face when creating all your products?
Communication! Our products are all made in Poland using British sheepskin. We chose Poland, partly for heritage but partly to allow the product to be of high quality but at a reasonable price, whilst keeping production within the EU. Coming from a rural background here in the UK, we were keen to support rural producers in Poland but this meant that the further we went, the less common English speaking was. Fortunately, my aunt is Polish speaking and has helped us out massively. We did look into an all British production system- British skins, British production. It wasn’t achievable for us in the short term but it is something that we would look to develop in the future.

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What do you enjoy most about being a designing your range?
Our range is a combination of own design products and the long standing traditional mountain slippers. I love seeing how ideas develop. It’s always great to see these products for the first time and be able to trial run them before anyone else! I also love traveling to different places to get inspiration for products, travel is undoubtedly the best way to see new things.

Do you have any advice for upcoming/emerging designers?
Just keep going! Believe absolutely in your products/designs.

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If you could sum up what it takes to design a range in one word what would it be?
Focus

What does the future hold for ‘by Sikora’?
We want to go big! In the short term it’s about building that raving fan base- getting out there and showing off our fabulous slippers! We’re also looking at pitching to stores, both independent and department and are welcome to suggestions! We’ve got so many ideas but it’s one step at a time.

They have also released their awesome new accessories range, some snapshots below:

So with winter just around the corner any one of their products would make a great gift. All items can be purchased at the following link. Click here

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Return of the Rudeboy

Taking a break from the future of fashion to quickly revel in the past & present.

I was seriously feeling the Monday blues, so I said to myself “What can one possibly do to shake this funk?”

A few weeks ago I came across an exhibition that was showing at Somerset house called ‘Return of the Rudeboy’ and being the culture seeker that I am I felt this would be a good time as any to go and check it out.

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I can safely say I was not disappointed and left enriched with culture and inspiration from what I had seen.

For those of you that do not know about the Rudeboy scene, Rudeboy is a slang term that originated in 1960s Jamaican street culture, and which are still used today. In the late 1970s, the 2 Tone ska revival in England saw the terms rude boy and rude girl, among other variations, being used to describe fans of that genre. Rudeboy or Rudegirl are not purely defined by the way that they dress, the way they style their hair or even the way that they dance. There is so much more and you will get a feel for all of it here.

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The exhibition was put together by prolific photographer and filmmaker Dean Chalkley and fashion-industry creative director Harris Elliott.

It highlights the rich heritage of the Rudeboy culture. All images were taken over the last year, and none of the individuals were actually styled. What you see is how they style and live their lives today.

The outfits are extremely well put together and it shows the level of creativity that this culture has impacted fashion to date.

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The exhibition will also host a pop-up ‘grooming station’ on Thursdays and Saturdays as well talks, films and guided tours.

I don’t want to reveal everything, but if you get a chance definitely head down and take a look and I promise you will not be disappointed.

It is free admission and it runs until the 25th of August.

More images can be found on my Facebook page. Click here

Awl & Sundry

It’s time to have faith in your sole. Awl & Sundry the made-to-order shoemaker finally launches today 24th March.

Who says you can’t get exactly what you want…..If you don’t believe that Awl & Sundry is here to prove otherwise.

Awl & Sundry is a new shoe brand based in New York, which is the first completely customisable made-to-order men’s shoe company.

I had the great pleasure of speaking with Nikunj the founder of Awl & Sundry who believes shoemaking to be an art that requires a certain amount of craftsmanship.

We talk a little about the inspiration behind the company.

This is a man I can tell likes to dress well, coming from the financial services industry he has always prided himself on looking sharp. However he quickly realised there were only 2 types of shoes in the market:

  1. High end bespoke shoes costing upwards of $2000, which as you can imagine, not everyone can afford.

  2. Mass produced brands created on assembly lines, using corrected or flaux leather.

Nikunj then saw an opportunity to bring the customer something in between, which is ‘Bespoke quality products at the price of a mass produced brand’.

A & S uses a process called Handsewn Goodyear Welt.

Please click here for a video link on how the shoes are made.

Awl & Sundry is not only a brand, but a collaborative platform through which individuals build their own brand. They empower guys to express themselves through the medium responsible for 99% of their first impressions, their fresh kicks.

While most shoe companies offer a handful of styles in a few select colours and the “normal” sizes, A & S are one of the pioneers in delivering the offline, made-to-order model, online.

They use cutting-edge 3D modeling, which offers unparalleled customization. Designers, as we like to call our members, can select:

  • Style (Oxford, Derby, Monks, Loafer)

  • Shape

  • Design features (Toe, Vamp, Eyestays, Back)

  • Shade of leather (29 in all)

  • Texture of leather (Calf plain, Calf suede, Calf grain, Ostrich, Alligator)

  • Laces (21 variations)

  • Stitching colors (21 variations)

With the above options, they have more than 2 billion design permutations in total. Moreover, their model allow their designers to view their personalized shoes in real-time.

There are hundreds of steps that go into crafting the perfect shoe for you, here is a snapshot of just a few:

The shoes generally take 4 weeks to ship, with a 30 day exchange period.

Prices range from about $350 – $1650 depending on the type of leather you choose.

They are currently only available in the US but looking to expand at some point in the future.

So for those of you in the area “What are you waiting for?”

Here’s a link to the Awl & Sundry website, why don’t you take a look and have the possibility of the below:

As always comments and feedback welcome.