Meeting Rachael Cowdell in a South Yarra Café just outside of Melbourne Australia was going to be tough, as we had only spoken via email. After a few stares, we figured out who was who and ordered one of St. Edmonds finest cups of coffee. After the third coffee we were well versed with her hand made shoe label Harry and Henry
G: What made you start your own label?
H&H: From a young age I had an interest in running my own label, as most women may have had growing up, I became involved in a female shoe label and after transitioning away from that and taking a well needed break, I began to notice there were not many options for men when it came to footwear. A few male friends gave me a gentle nudge into developing a mens range as to them there was “nothing in between work shoes or casual shoes”. I started researching local men’s fashion and also consulting male friends of mine (and sneakily checking out their footwear) and there indeed did seem to be a gap in the market for a classic smart casual, well-made shoe. With much trial and error and constant male advice, harry&henry shoes was developed and launched.
G: What do you want your customers to know/feel that sets you apart from others?
H&H: harry&henry shoes are handcrafted, original unique designs that are produced in small quantities. The styles are tran-seasonal, fashionable, channelling a modern, masculine aesthetic with charming individuality. They are easy to wear, and transition simply from day to evening, without compromising your style.
Most importantly they are made from high quality leather; leather lined, are incredibly comfortable, with an impeccable attention to detail.
Each shoe is handmade to the highest detail with a lot of care going into each pair to ensure, as a wearer you have a beautiful high quality leather shoe which is reflected in the look and feel.
G: What influences your designs?
H&H: The designs are influenced by current on and offshore trends. Before each season is designed I research and establish styles and cuts that have the ability to work with the what is deemed as ‘in fashion’ yet still has the ability to transition from day to evening wear, casual through to smart casual, as well as being trans-seasonal. I try to use different leather per design as well as trying to cover one of each style within a range. Take this most recent winter range; there is a Desert Boot, Chukka, Moccasin, casual high-top, hopefully there is a style that appeals to most tastes.
G: We love the idea of only making a small batch of each design. We understand each shoe is hand-mand, can you tell us a little bit about this process?
H&H: The process involved to producing a harry&henry shoe is intimate and well thought out. This starts from creating a sketch of the shoe and outlining the features and specific details of the shoe. Using this Winters shoe ‘The England’ as an example. We had a sketch of what could be described as a standard leather ankle boot, yet we wanted to create a boot that had striking features and stood apart from others. I played around with matching different leathers to provide a contrast between the quarter and the vamp of the shoe, ensure that an appropriate tone of leather used in the welt, establish the contrasting leather lining colour, and finally the finishing stitching. Once that was determined the design specification is created and sent to the workshop to initiate the sampling process. The perfect leather for that particular style of shoe is selected and from there the sampling process is initiated and the shoes handcrafted. Each shoe, dependent on the details and features, takes up to a day to make. The most shoes made for any one style has been 20 pairs as we are operating on a fairly small scale at the moment. As a general rule once a style has sold out we will not produce any more of that design as it can be difficult to source the same leather used to make a particular style.
Detail and quality is incredibly important and if the same leather isn’t available we won’t comprise those elements just to sell another pair of shoes.
G:The first thing a girl notices about a gent is the cobbling.. what are your tips for worlds best practice?
H&H: Gents if you are unsure of what constitutes ‘good style’, keep it simple and allow your shoes to finish your outfit rather than detract away from it. Please try and avoid wearing shoes that you would wear exercising with denim or any smart/smart casual pants, women will notice. If you are still unsure please contact harry&henry shoes and I will be sure to point you in the right direction.
G: Where can we find your range?
H&H: The range is stocked online at www.harryhenryshoes.com , in store at Design A Space, and www.distantroom.com.au