A few months back, I saw the most beautiful pair of children's shoes on Instagram, and decided it would be my lifes work to track them down and buy a pair for Daisy - and this was where my love affair with Young Soles began. Launched by established footwear designer Louise Shill, the designs have been inspired by classic styling and British heritage - think brogues, creepers, t-bars and Mary-Janes in leather, suede and patent materials. After seeing the lookbook, I immediately fell in love - the whole range embodies everything I look for desperately when buying shoes for both my children; good quality, beautiful details and fantastic design. I've always found footwear a challenge to be honest - if you've got a boy, everything is smothered with animals, diggers or slogans, while if you're a mother to a girl, you're faced with pink, glitter and flowers. And, err, that's it. To say I'm excited about these shoes is an understatement; versatile enough to be matched with any outfit, hardy enough to withstand the enthusiasm of young children and wonderfully classically style - what's not to love?
I was lucky enough to have a few minutes to catch up with owner and designer Louise, where I picked her brains a little, and found out a bit more about the whole design process.
What were your top three priorities when designing the Young Soles range?
There are so many, but if I had to choose I’d have to begin with where I start the design process; choosing lasts (the shape of the shoe) that follow the contours of the foot and ensuring that each design functions as a child’s shoe; constructing the uppers to be soft and comfortable to wear -I’m lucky that my daughter happily lets me wear test all of my designs on her; and finally, ensuring that each design stays true to the Young Soles brand, blending retro-cool, British heritage and contemporary detailing.
How important are ethical and environmentally friendly practices to you?
I believe ethical and environmentally friendly practices affect most businesses today. Every business should have a conscience and take the responsibility to do what they can. I chose to manufacture Young Soles in Europe, to keep my carbon footprint as low as it can be; I also use, wherever possible, locally sourced materials in support of the European shoe industry.
It’s so refreshing to find a footwear brand for children that keeps things simple and doesn’t smother their shoes with dinosaurs and hearts. I’d love to put my daughter in some of the boy’s shoes as well; particularly Morris, and I think some of the mums of boys would love the Vera. Did you design with elements of gender-free styles in mind or was it a happy accident?
I always like to design simply, to ensure my shoes are versatile and work with many different outfits, and I was aware when designing that some styles would work for both boys and girls, however the odd style has been a surprise, such as ‘Vera’, that has been picked up for both boys and girls.
Do you have a favorite shoe, and what do you love about this particular design?
My favorite design has to be the ‘Rosie’ T-bar, this was the first style I designed for the Young Soles collection. It brings back a sense of nostalgia for me and has had the most positive reaction from buyers and the general public. My daughter and I have been stopped many times and asked where her ‘Rosie’ T bars have come from. ‘Rosie’ T bars looks really cool with a pair of skinny jeans, and equally as great with a pretty dress.
What was the biggest challenge when designing the range?
It’s a continuous challenge to keep the range a reasonable size and it’s been tough keeping the collection to just ten styles - I’m bursting with ideas for next season.
For more information, head to the Young Soles website, or pop over to their Facebook page. A huge thanks to Louise for taking the time to answer my questions, and also to Lisa for all her help.