Oliver Sweeney leading the way in sartorial footwear

Oliver Sweeney is one of the world’s most renowned shoe makers. With an interest in shoes that the man himself admits borders on fetishism, it’s easy to understand why. Like a doctor of the feet, Sweeney began his training at McAfee, the bespoke and stock shoemakers.

Sweeney never wanted the shoes to go out to customers either, preferring them to stay in the studio where he could stare at them for hours as the time passed by.

When Sweeney launched his own brand in 1989, he began crafting his techniques aiming for an almost 'demi-bespoke' product: shoes that were factory-made but of a quality reminiscent of the bespoke pairs worn by Royals, the Beckhams, and the aristocracy of bespoke Britain. Sweeney's shoes although sold 'off-the-shelf' make each customer feel he is buying and wearing a bespoke product.

The secret perhaps, is the hand-finishing - the polishing, brushing and staining - which gives unparalleled character to the leather, transforming a plain brown into a deep rich wood brown. More recently, you could even get your pair of Sweeney’s tattooed. This makes Sweeney quite unlike any shoe maker in the world today.

In days gone by when you actually buy a pair from Sweeney himself, he would urge his customers to rub black polish into their brown shoes, exclaiming that he hated ‘bland colours’.
Sweeney names his shoe styles after the cinema greats, illustrating his keen appreciation for stardom. Bogarde is the name for his semi-brogue. Then there is Connery, the plain Oxford; Pacino, the full-brogue; and Redford, the chukka boot.

Despite the recession hitting the business hard in 2008, things have been looking up for Oliver Sweeney in recent months with social media networks, increased marketing activity and masterful creative concepts such as pop up tattoo shops being hailed a huge success.

Sweeney prides itself on producing high quality footwear built to last. Staff are highly knowledgeable about fit, and shoe-trees can be bought in the shop to prolong the life of the shoes. They provide a re-soling service and their website features ten tips on lengthening the life of your shoes and declares that 'a good pair of shoes are a life-long companion'. This is a very welcome change from the majority of high street shoe retailers selling shoes that won't last the year and expecting you to return faithfully to stock up on landfill.

Mobikats along with Oliver Sweeney’s fashion photographer have designed something called the Oliver Sweeney Shoe app for the Apple iPad. The app allows the user to design custom Italian shoes at the point of sale for the first time.

The Oliver Sweeney Shoe app for the Apple iPad allows users to select shoe design, colour of shoe skin for each panel, type of luxury skin, and the delivers the ability to see just what that shoe looks like, and thus improving on the shopping experience.

Mobikats director, Phil Hunt says, “The challenge for Mobikats with this particular iPad app was to make sure that Oliver Sweeney staff and customers had fun and were helped every step of the process by the app.” The Oliver Sweeney Shoe iOS app key features are 6 different shoe designs, 5 different luxury skins from stingray to leather in varying colours, simple touch interface, different views of the finished design, the ability to email the designed shoe to others.

The Autumn / Winter collection 2011 retains the seasonal staples but introduces a twist on a classic brogue with shoes such as the Skelton Brown hand painted shoe. Yet the ever-present handwriting of Oliver Sweeney, together with the careful selection of matching belts, or the premium quality of the range of leather jackets allows the wearer to stamp his own style upon the look in an instant. With inspiration from the decorative Art Deco movement, the collection's bold use of materials and form offers something for everyone. Everyone who has an ounce of style, that is.
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