Cutting edge, not cutting corners
In 2014, 19-year-old Archie Hewlett was due to start at Durham University. However, the summer before his first semester, he had planned to attend a black tie event and wanted to wear a traditional yet contemporary loafer, without the inflated price tag. Unable to find something suitable, he had a bespoke pair made.
Hewlett didn’t come from a fashion or design background, however, he immediately noticed the ever-growing attention from wearing his personally designed pair. Deterred by over-priced high fashion loafers and imitations of powerhouse label’s, enquiries only continued to increase with people asking where they could get a pair. Acknowledging the high demand and clear gap in the market for a luxurious yet affordable smart shoe, which could be versatile and styled to occasions, Archie decided to launch Duke & Dexter; a British footwear label specialising in premium loafers for those who appreciate modern, functional and spirited apparel.
Three years on and with plans to open a London flagship store later this year, Hewlett says: ‘We design for those who are comfortable creating their own look rather than obeying the latest seasonal fashions and we have been fortunate that the uniqueness of the shoe, alongside the comfort and commercial price, generates strong demand from a varied demographic.’
The label has received international recognition, selling to over 100 countries worldwide, as well as in reputable retailers in the UK. Popular styles have graced the feet of Jonah Hill, Ryan Reynolds, Justin Timberlake, Poppy Delevingne, Tyson Beckford and Tinie Tempah to name a few, alongside Eddie Redmayne – a defining moment for the brand, as Hewlett recalls: ‘Eddie Redmayne wearing his bespoke Duke & Dexter’s when accepting his Oscar in 2015 was a big turning point for the brand. Not only was it an event of such magnitude, but to be competing with major brands who were also showcased was a definitive milestone.
Designed in London and proudly manufactured in England, the company praises the work of British craftsmanship. ‘It’s an invaluable talent. There’s a unique charm that comes from English style, on top of exceptional quality and we wanted to represent that, through our product, which isn’t seen so much nowadays as shoe manufacturing is being lost overseas.’
Documenting each stage of product development, Hewlett mentions that ‘our Instagram feed shares moments from our travels, where we collect global inspiration from colours, textures, prints and motifs. Thereafter, customers can follow the journey, from where ideas start to the finished product being handmade in Sheffield. We feel this is important for them to understand truly the history of the shoes they’re wearing and the care dedicated to creating each one. We’ve worked hard to strike a balance between global inspiration and British charm, while bringing the best elements from old school and contemporary footwear.’
Now 22 and with bright plans for the future, Archie adds: ‘I feel our contemporary take on a traditional product resonates well with our consumers, as they tend to trust our opinion and style, which sets us aside. We only specialise in one thing because we know we do it well, in turn building an organic loyalty, formed by those who appreciate our founding values.’
DUKE & DEXTER 30 BLOOMSBURY STREET, LONDON WC1B 3QJ +44 (0)1491 612848