Globally we are relying more and more on distant manufacturing. In doing so we gain access to cheaper goods, but we are also running the risk of losing cultural traditions of craftsmanship. T&F is working to ensure that the art of high-quality shoe production is not lost.
was recently founded by veteran footwear designers Tim and Fiona Slack. The design duo have been in the footwear scene since the 1970s - back when shoes weren't made in China, Carnabe Street was still cool, Jimi Hendrix rented a flat in Notting Hill and the platform was king.
[caption id="attachment_4267" align="aligncenter" width="684" caption="Tim and Fiona Slack now and then plus an advert for their first company WALKERS"]
Tim and Fiona were the first to move beyond the bulky platform styling and kickstarted a trend looking more towards sophistication, strong, clean lines and classic British elegance. They perfected and popularized the Derby, also known as the Gibson, but infused it with some bohemian flair. Bold colorways and interesting combinations make the shoes stand out and their relevance remains to this day.
[caption id="attachment_4263" align="aligncenter" width="722" caption="Blue & Yellow T&F Derby"]
T&F is their new brainchild; inspired heavily by Bauhaus principles of architecture and drawing influence from cultural sources like glam rock band Roxy Music and Swiss furniture designer Hans Coray, they have managed to produce a line that is just as fresh as it is classic.
[caption id="attachment_4230" align="aligncenter" width="800" caption="Foyer of the Bauhaus University Weimar"]
[caption id="attachment_4229" align="aligncenter" width="1239" caption="Roxy Music"]
[caption id="attachment_4235" align="aligncenter" width="1280" caption="Hans Coray's Landi chair"]
All of the shoes are produced right in London, with workshops in both East London and Notting Hill. The Derby is their staple, but the line ranges far beyond the one style. T&F also offers entirely made to order Derby's, allowing the customer to pick each element of the shoe for a totally custom look.
[caption id="attachment_4264" align="aligncenter" width="654" caption="T&F Perforated Leather"]
The custom shoes are all produced in the Notting Hill artisan workshop and have developed a committed following, particularly among Notting Hill natives. Nothing like being able to support local production (!), especially when you're getting something of such high-quality craftsmanship.
[caption id="attachment_4281" align="aligncenter" width="793" caption="Notting Hill, the location of one of T&F's workshops"]
Miista designer Laura Villasenin took a trip to visit the factory with Tim, her dear friend and mentor. Laura interned with Tim and Fiona during her first year at university and they have remained close since. Having the support of those who have been in the trenches of the footwear industry for some odd 40 years has helped Miista greatly. Tim and Fiona are committed to continuing London's tradition of shoemaking by employing a team of craftspeople who mentor the younger generations - often students from Cordwainers College, a famous UK institution that specializes in shoes. The skills that Tim and Fiona are passing down will help to continue the tradition of artisan manufacturing and ensure that this will not become a lost art.
Laura snapped some great Instagrams of the factory, some of the technicians and even Tim - check them out below.
[caption id="attachment_4193" align="aligncenter" width="612" caption="Bob cutting leathers"]
[caption id="attachment_4194" align="aligncenter" width="612" caption="Hi Bob!"]
Bob, the technician seen in the above photos, has been in the shoe industry since the age of 17. East London used to be a mecca of production, with many shoemaking factories thriving in the once highly industrial area. Bob finished high school and was faced with choosing a trade. As is almost always true, mother knew best and told him: Bob, people will ALWAYS need shoes, if you get into the footwear industry you will always have a job! Bob's mother could never have foreseen the sudden shift to Chinese manufacturing, but as more and more factories fell Bob remained employed. He was a master of his trade and was able to continue working at home in London, even as local production continued to disappear. Still employed in the same industry to this day, Bob teaches us - always listen to your mum
[caption id="attachment_4195" align="aligncenter" width="612" caption="Laura & Tim Slack"]
[caption id="attachment_4197" align="aligncenter" width="612" caption="Lasts galore"]
[caption id="attachment_4198" align="aligncenter" width="612" caption="Tools of the trade"]
[caption id="attachment_4199" align="aligncenter" width="612" caption="Organization at its finest"]
Londoners don't miss out! T&F's Notting Hill boutique
showcases the line and has samples of all the different combinations available for custom orders. Leathers in bright colors, animal prints and exotic textures are offered to help you make the perfect just-your-style Derby! But don't fret if you're not in the UK, custom orders can also be placed through their website
as well! T&F: a purchase to be proud of; support your community and always keep your feet chic!