Chay Cooper (Wildsmith)

"We intend for Wildsmith once again to become the most innovative shoe company."

Chay Cooper (Wildsmith)

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You are a surprising Gentleman your name being connected now to the resurrection of a 19 century English shoe firm. Why did you choose Wildsmith for the rebirth and what are the plans for the future?

With both my Father and Grandfather previously having worked in the shoe industry it was perhaps an inevitable route for my own career.

I started as a trainee shoemaker aged 16 and now at the age of 39 it has been 23 years that I have been involved in making shoes. By the time I reached my early 20′s I had developed a strong passion for shoemaking and in particular was fascinated by the heritage of English shoemaking, so the opportunity to become one of the owners of  Wildsmith seemed to be a perfect fit for me.

Wildsmith has an extremely illustrious past, our job and responsibility now is to embrace this history but to also ensure that the future of Wildsmith shoes becomes as equally strong.

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Is there any Wildsmith family member part of this project?

Yes, John Wildsmith is still involved. John has a wealth of knowledge and experience and as such he remains integral to the company and is someone we call on for advice and support regularly.

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“Raymond Lewis Wildsmith created the first ever slip-on loafer shoe in London, originally known as the 582. The style was derived from a bespoke pair of house shoes, designed originally for King George Vl to wear with his shooting hose, whilst inside the house.” Is there any current model that remembers this legacy?

Yes, the Bloomsbury loafer is inspired by the 582. The Wildsmith loafer is an iconic shoe that has been copied by many other leading shoemakers.

Whereas we may in the future resurrect the 582 in its truest form we felt it important to relaunch Wildsmith with a new interpretation to emphasise the point that we intend for Wildsmith once again to become the most innovative shoe company.

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James Sleater, co-owner Cad and the Dandy, said once in an interview for The Telegraph that “Tailoring is back on the up with the likes of Downton Abbey. Shoemakers are 20 years behind where the tailors are now. We want to revolutionise a classic product with an incredible heritage and bring it to a wider audience.” How many lines are available for the start and what are the plans for the near future?

We have 16 selections currently available. we have quite a few ideas for the near future that we shall release to our website and social media pages as we move forward.

Our primary objective is to to ensure that our clients are happy with the fact that we continue to offer great shoes, made in England, which represent exceptional value for money while displaying the classical elegance and attention to detail that Wildsmith shoes has always been renowned for.

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How were you convinced to be part of a very young team? 

I met James and Ian around two years ago, they have done a fantastic job with Cad & the Dandy making Savile Row tailoring modern, accessible and inviting to a broader clientele, but what impressed me most about the pair of them is the passion they have not just for their own company, but the English tailoring industry as a whole – It was something I could instantly relate to, albeit through shoes. When discussing Wildsmith together seeing how enthused they both were about making a famous English company great once more made it an incredibly easy decision for me to work with them both.

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Where are the shoes made?

All of Wildsmith shoes are made in England, it is something we all feel strongly about. All of the Wildsmith leather goods and accessories are also made in England.

The shoes are made at the home of English shoemaking Northamptonshire and as such are Goodyear welted constructed using only the finest calf leathers and English tanned leather soles.

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What are the retail prices and where will be the shoes sold? The shoes will be also available overseas?

The prices range from £335 to £400. Clients worldwide can purchase shoes online direct from our website www.wildsmith.com.

They are also available from number 13 Savile Row, London and from our stockists in New York, Hawaii, Beverley Hills, Korea & Japan, full details of Wildsmith stockists are in the process of being added to our website.

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What is your favorite Wildsmith model?

Difficult question as I obviously feel close to all of the shoe designs! The single strap black monk shoe St. James is incredibly smart as is both the Brunswick black cap oxford shoe and the brogue oxford style shoe, Trafalgar.

The derby shoe Covent, with its square vamp and also the Grosvenor balmoral brogue monk shoe in blue calf and blue suede I find myself attracted to because of how unique they are.

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But perhaps the more classic casual styles like the Brunswick semi brogue with diamond shaped punch holes in mole suede and the plain cap toe shoe Sloane in burnt chestnut calf are the shoes I personally wear most often along with of course, the unlined loafer, Bloomsbury.

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