An icon of British fashion is in danger of disappearing – sales of men’s brown suede shoes have plummeted to an all time low.
For decades they were the shoe of choice, an indispensable badge of identity for the G and T, ice and a slice, Jaguar driving, man about town. Now us folk at Debenhams have decided to act to preserve the style for the future shoppers before it disappears for ever. We’ve asked top designers to reinvent the classic shoe using styles which will appeal to a younger generation.
For years, this shoe has represented the sole of the nation. All over the world, Britons are still renowned for wearing brown suede shoes with blue shirts. It’s as well known as our penchant for afternoon tea, and we want to do all that we can to enable everyone to continue this great tradition.
Brown suede shoes first found favour with respectable Middle England when they were worn by the Duke of Windsor in the 1930s. Film star Cary Grant, and later, Terry Thomas followed the trend, boosting the shoe’s profile to an all time high. Sales soared in the 1960s and 70s, with brown suede becoming the footwear of choice, along with blue blazers, flannels, and Pringle jumpers.
However, sales began to falter towards the end of the 80s, during Margaret Thatcher’s final years in power. They fell still further with Tony Blair’s drive towards Cool Britannia in the 1990s. Now sales of traditional brown suede shoes have dwindled to an all time low, despite still having some high profile champions such as Lord Chancellor Ken Clarke and Conservative MP Patrick Mercer.
We’ve asked our designers to develop a new approach which incorporates the best of this classic style while bringing the shoe bang up to date. We’re considering using contrast colour laces to capitalise on this season’s colour-block trend, and perhaps altering both the heel height and length and width to bring the shoe more into line with modern trends.
Do you own a pair of brown suede shoes? Do you think this men’s shoe style is in need of an update?