A Look Back at Where it all Started
Since launching in Spring 2014 the styles and designs of Sargasso & Grey shoes have changed materially. What hasn’t changed is our commitment to designing comfortable, yet timeless, classics. For many, purchasing a pair of our shoes is an investment; a considered purchase. So, we want to make sure the style won’t date and they can be worn and enjoyed for years to come.
As we roll on with 2023, we wanted to give you a little insight into the design journey since we started, and to show the evolution of our designs over this time, often as a result of listening to the feedback from our wonderful customers.
Sargasso & Grey launched in 2014 with a capsule collection of wide-fitting stilettos. Handmade in England, the collection consisted of 10cm heels in a classic design. Pictured above, one of the designs in this capsule featured an asymmetric silhouette with the shoe being open on one side. We found that this style was particularly popular amongst our customers as it meant that the shoe was less restrictive on the foot, and rather allowed the foot to relax and spread comfortably.
A year later we noticed that there was a high demand for occasion shoes, particularly shoes suited for mothers of the bride and groom. Many customers were in need of a stylish shoe that was also wide fitting, as this was incredibly hard to find on the market. Whilst our range of stilettos were beautiful and elegant, the 10cm heel proved to be too high for many, and so we introduced a lower wide fitting court shoe that was much more practical.
A difficult time for the UK shoe industry, our London factory unfortunately had to close. With many UK manufacturers facing the turmoil that hit the industry, we were unable to find another factory within the UK. Continuing the search across Europe, we looked at options in Italy, Portugal and Spain. We refused to compromise on quality, all the while still requiring a shoemaker that was able to create shoes of a wider width to a high standard. Most were unable to meet our needs and it seemed as though wide feet were a complete mystery to the rest of Europe!
We landed in the home of Spanish shoe making, Elda, and a wonderful family run company that had been making shoes for decades. We provided them with wide fitting lasts (shoe moulds) made by a factory in Northampton. This allowed us to branch out into new models and, using the knowledge we had gained so far and the popularity of a lower heel with an open sided structure, we introduced Ava to our collection. Immediately popular, and still one of our bestsellers, this really is a timeless classic.
Covid was our next challenge. Lockdown was hard for many businesses but for shoe businesses, it was a disaster (unless you made slippers!). No one needed shoes, they weren’t going anywhere! Weddings were cancelled and orders plummeted. We soon realised we needed to adapt our offering and give customers more casual options so we introduced flats and loafers.
Already having evolved drastically over the years, we continued to adapt and listen to feedback from customers. We altered some of our flat designs to make them even wider (Lockdown created a lot more wide feet!), and we added some stylish trainers to the range due to their soaring popularity.
Our flats and loafers were now a staple part of our collection but listening to feedback, as we always do, we changed our trainer supplier to one who could make wider fitting trainers with seamless stitching; a real game changer for people with painful toe joints and sensitive skin. We are so pleased at how well they have sold.
We also started looking deeper into the science of our shoes. Thinking through every component and every last tiny detail, we have learnt what works and developed the overall standard of our shoes. Noticing the importance of a higher cut upper, we now create designs that fully conceal the toe joint to minimise discomfort and irritation against possible problem areas.
Leaping forward to present 2023, our new Penelope shoe (a sister shoe to the classic Ava) has proven really popular as another bestselling occasion style. Designed again to cover and conceal sensitive toe joints, with a beautiful buckle strap for a little extra security for nervous heel wearers.
Whatever 2023 and beyond brings us. Our customers will always be at the forefront of our minds. We wouldn’t have the wonderful collection we do now without your support but we are always keen to hear feedback and ideas so we can continue to offer new styles, improve existing ones and keeping aiming for more people with happy feet!