WHERE IDEAS ARE BORN
Beautiful shoes start with beautiful design. Often the creative process almost starts itself, with the design team organically knowing where they want to go next. We’ll go on inspiration trips, often to vintage shops or markets, or beautiful places where we invariably fall in love with ideas and get quite animated mid-shop! These ideas are then brought back to the office, where we work in a combination of 2D and 3D, playing around with shapes, with leathers and details, until these crazy and exciting ideas are developed into designs we can take to our factory and make into next season’s collection.
THE PERFECT FIT
After design the next most important part of any shoe is creating the perfect fit. This all starts with selecting the right ‘last’, which is effectively a mould from which patterns are cut. This is an extremely skilled process, and our pattern cutters are highly experienced, ensuring the cut of every shoe sits perfectly on the foot. From here prototype samples are made, which we fit test before making any necessary amendments- these can be millimetres, but even the tiniest adjustment makes a difference. Only once we’re happy with the final sample does the shoe go into production.
SELECTING THE FINEST MATERIALS
Selecting materials is where the shoe really starts to come to life. We work predominantly in leather and suede, and not just for their look and wearability after the wedding. No other shoe material is better than natural leather as it can be stretched and shaped to fit the foot perfectly, whilst retaining its shape and breathability. People are sometimes cautious of suede, but being a natural material it’s actually a lot easier to care for than satin, and has a timelessly elegant look.
MAKING THE CUT
Once materials have been selected, each piece of the shoe needs to be cut out. Again, this is a highly skilled job as the cutter needs to ensure that each piece correctly follows the natural stretch of the leather, whilst minimising the amount of wastage produced. Thicker materials such as the leather soling are cut using knives, however most of our upper pieces are still cut by hand.
HANDSTITCHED WITH CARE
Intricate patterns and delicate stitchwork are both key features of a Rachel Simpson shoe. Any one shoe can be made up of a large number of pieces, which must all be carefully assembled in the right order. Pieces are stitched together on special sewing machines, which require highly skilled operatives as even the tiniest mistake will be noticeable on the final shoe.
A LASTING IMPRESSION
Lasting is where the flat leather upper becomes three dimensional and really starts to take shape. After attaching the insole to the base of the last, the stitched upper is stretched over the last and attached. It is essential that the upper is kept completely central, and whilst many shoes are lasted by machine, ours are all carefully lasted by hand due to their delicate shapes which is another highly skilled process.
WE’VE GOT SOLE
Once the shoe has been lasted it’s time to attach soles and heels- our soles are made from 100% leather which is not only durable but also extremely comfortable, and the beautiful suede finish also makes them non-slip. Every heel is selected for its wearability as much as its elegant shape, so the shoes can take you comfortably from day to evening. All shoes are embossed with the Rachel Simpson ethos- just beautiful shoes.
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAIL
Once the shoe is complete, every pair is carefully inspected and finished by hand to ensure that every last detail is as perfect as possible. Every product we create is carefully handcrafted by experienced crafts people, using traditional techniques and a great deal of skill. Slight variations in size, shape and materials are natural, and inherent characteristics of a handcrafted product- proof of each one’s originality and unique character.