It’s my default choice of shop for a sandwich, new knickers, great cashmere, a statement coat and even a leather pencil skirt. Oh and a body scrub, birthday card, living room rug and cuddly toy. But Marks & Spencer has never been high on my list of must-stop shoe shops…
But when I saw the mirror finish on these sci-fi silver boots at Marks & Spencer’s Autumn press day last Spring, I knew I had to reevaluate my views. And then there were the Oxfords with tiny studs around the base, the royal blue satin pumps with jewelled brooch that have been everywhere and those millennial pink sock boots. All as desirable as M&S coats and cashmere, if not more so, due to the element of surprise. Who doesn’t like inverse shoe snobbery? “Oh these? Would you believe me if I told you they were M&S?!”
With approximately five million pairs of shoes sold every year (that works out as ten pairs per minute) I’m late to the party. Every single M&S shoe has its design rooted in practicality with either Insolia technology (which redistributes your weight from the balls of your feet) or Footglove with padding underfoot. It’s not sexy to talk about comfort but God it’s sexy to be able to walk without limping. I asked Sara Palbrant-Blomberg, Head of Design at M&S some questions on my favourite subject, shoes…
Who do you design for? Do you have a woman in mind?
“At M&S we design for all women. Whether you are chasing this season’s must have sock boot or looking for a quality leather shoe you can wear every day, our focus is on style, comfort and accessibility; there is something for everyone.”
Where do you get inspiration from?
“We get inspiration from a variety of sources. We look at emerging trends globally, what’s happening on social networks and the ever-changing needs of the modern women. Customer feedback is incredibly important and we always listen and respond to what our customers are telling us to shape our collections.”
Who on the team has the most extravagant footwear and what are their most outrageous pair?
“The great thing about working with such an eclectic team of women is that everybody has their own unique sense of style. I think most of us would admit to having at least one pair of extravagant shoes in our wardrobe! I tend to favour flats, like a classic brogue or trainers, during the day, but a statement heel is my go to when I want to feel extra special. This season I’m coveting the M&S Collection knee high red boot which is a bold colour move for me!”
What do you think shoes can add to an outfit?
“Footwear has the ability to completely transform an outfit, whether you want to update last season’s wardrobe or elevate a classic LBD with a surprising colour injection. I also find shoes are a great way to try out a new season trend without having commit head to toe.”
That’s exactly why I am obsessed with shoes too… shoes let you play with the trends and make my daily staples of jeans and a jumper look far more current without the extravagance that experimenting with new outfits has. These are my favourites from M&S’s Autumn collection, I’ll be adding these gems to my basket next time I need a sandwich…