Earlier in the week I was in London and I took the opportunity to nip along to the Air & Grace studio in Brixton. For those of you who follow me on Instagram, or who read the blog regularly, you will know that I’m never far away from my shimmies which I absolutely adore. They have seriously revolutionised my life! True, I’m not wearing them in this shot – I decided that they were just too good for the streets of London.
Michelle, who helps Claire in the studio, took this photograph whilst standing on a chair, which is why I look spectacularly small. But to be honest I would look spectacularly small standing next to Claire in any event, because she is beautifully tall.
The studio is serious shoe heaven! Everything apart from the espadrilles are made in Spain (the espadrilles are made in Portugal) subsequent to which they are shipped to the UK. Claire was fabulous, talking me through her designs for A/W ’17 as well as for S/S ’18. She showed me her sketches and fabric swatches, as well as the details such as tassels and pom poms and I had a good feel of the three layer memory foam insert that goes into each shoe. We talked about stockists and finances and all things relating to small businesses and it’s amazing how hard Claire has worked to get where she is.
There are some fabulous designs coming our way ladies and without wishing my life away, I can’t wait for the S/S ’18 collection to arrive. Let’s just say neon, metallics and even heels may feature.
You see the boxes in the white packaging on the right hand side of the photograph? Well these were all waiting to be sent out to lovely customers.
And ta-da! A new shoe! This is a new design of Claire’s and it’s called “Flutter”. The Flutter comes in navy, white, grey and pink and is sleeker and has less padding around the ankle, compared to the Copeland – which means that people now have a greater choice. It’s not yet available but it shouldn’t be too long now.
Claire’s background is in shoes and she has worked for many well known High Street brands such as Office, Fit Flop and Aldo. Essentially Claire designs shoes that she loves and it just so happens that her customers love them too. Her attention to detail is amazing. She tweaks the eyelets, laces, colour of the soles, colour of the leather – everything in fact – until she gets it just how she likes it. And because she only ever wears her own shoes, she knows exactly what else is needed in the range to make it complete.
In particular I loved the shearling high tops for the winter but as yet the design isn’t quite to Claire’s discerning eye, so we will all have to wait for the big reveal. What I can say, however, is that they come in tan and khaki and I think that once anyone puts a pair on, they won’t want to take them off again.
I currently have my eye on the Copeland trainers (£149)
Claire was due to make a day trip to Portugal the day after I saw her, to check on a trailer of shoes that had temporarily gone AWOL thanks to some friendly local bandits. Luckily it had turned up again but in true Claire style, she had to check that everything was just so. And it’s that kind of commitment that has made Air & Grace so successful in such a short space of time. Claire, I take my hat (and my shoes) off to you!