Can you remember the moment you came up with Fins? What was the spark?
I was sitting up in Scotland watching a friend of mine sloping around in a pair of moccasins that he had bought in the port in St Tropez. They were folded down at the back, with holes all over the soles. It was the end of the summer and he was at that stage just wearing them as slippers. He was bemoaning the fact that he couldn't part with them as, short of returning to St Tropez, there was no affordable and chic alternative available in London. Right there, Fin's was born.
How come you're creating men's shoes and not women's?
I have always envied men for their strict sense of uniform and admired those who find a way to stand out and be stylish with a much stricter set of rules. The Fin's brand identity from the very start has been Simple, Classic, Affordable and Fuss-Free; words that appeal to a male audience but leaves ladies rather cold.
What do you think men look for in footwear?
Value is a key word for menswear in general, and nowhere more so than in footwear. This is split into two schools: heritage, quality products with a lifetime guarantee, and uncomplicated basics with a price tag to reflect a sense of fun. I think long and hard to design shoes and accessories that encapsulate the latter whilst also retaining fabulous quality, handmade elements and a spot of luxury.
Style wise, are chaps becoming more peacockish, more daring? We're certainly seeing more colour…
Colour has been a big story for a few seasons now. When Fin's started four years ago a hot pink suede loafer was almost unheard of, and now jewel brights are commonplace across the market. Men like to keep a sense of fun within the parameters they have.
What are the main influences on the way men dress? And of course how they pick their shoes…
In the case of straight men, it is more often than not a strong influence from their WAGs! Mostly I think that men are very aware of what they can get away with. Usually, a customer comes into my showroom with a pretty clear idea of what they want already. Fin's is, however, very much synonymous with holidays over the summer, and so they can be coaxed into working with their favourite styles and spicing the colour choice up a bit, for example, upgrading from a traditional navy driver to a rich cobalt blue.
"The Fin's brand identity from the very start has been Simple, Classic, Affordable and Fuss-Free..."
What are your top trend tips for Spring 12?
Block colours, nautical palettes, stripes, relaxed tailoring...
What five shoe styles should every man own?
Obviously two pairs of summer suede loafers; one in a chocolate brown and another in a more racy option. A pair of classic black leather work shoes, either an Oxford or a slip on. A pair of Wellington boots, and a pair of brogues that can be dressed up or down. Not flip flops.
We understand that you have a connection with Johnnie Walker… is this true and are you a fan of a tipple?
Johnnie Walker was my great-great-great Grandfather. I would love to say that I am a fan of the broon water, but a hot toddie as about as much as I can take! I do of course have a bottle of Black Label stocked in my bar at home at all times though.