Thursday, September 21, 2017

Step Into Another Era: Royal Vintage Shoes


I know what you all may be thinking: "Step into another era? What exactly does she mean?" No, I'm not showing you some kind of magical portal that takes you to some bygone era and all you have to do is step into it. I'm showing you shoes, I know what you're thinking "You wrote that fancy title just to talk about shoes? Clickbait much?" Just hear or read. (Yeah, read. That's better grammar.) me out.

Look at these Shoes:
Peggy 1940s Spectator Pumps by Royal Vintage (Brown/White)

I wanted to talk to the magicians - I mean designers who created these works of art. and see if it's really magic or just hard work and talent.

So I interviewed one of the designers, Lauren Stowell owner of americanduchess.com and

one of the designers of royal vintage shoes and asked her various questions concerning the brand.


Q: How/why did you get into designing?

A: I started designing historical shoes when I wasn't able to find quite the right style or accuracy in the market. At the time, I was making these big, extravagant, fancy ball gowns from the 18th and 19th centuries and the only options for historically accurate footwear were heavy, black, unattractive shoes that were better suited to a working class impression than an aristocrat.

I thought that others in the historical costuming world may have had this issue too, so I did a lot of polling and testing to see if there was a market, then developed a single style - a dyeable satin 18th-century shoes - to present to the online community. We did a crowd-funding campaign and that one shoe self-funded overnight!

From that point onwards we just brought out one new design here, a couple there, until six years later here we are doing whole collections twice a year for Spring and Fall, full of different styles from various centuries and time periods. It's very important that we're plugged into our community at all times because we always want to make what our fans and followers are needing to complete their outfits. It's a very "social" business.


Q: Of All of the things you could recreate/design what made you want to focus on shoes?

A: I find the history of footwear particularly interesting. Shoes are so personal and they changed greatly through time. They reflect the daily lives or major life events of women and answer a lot of questions about how people lived and worked in the past.

As a product range, shoes are a piece of a historical ensemble that cannot be easily made by the end user. Shoemaking is and was a skilled trade. It requires special training and specialized tools and, today, machines that the average person will not have access to, whereas those in the historical and vintage dress communities can make nearly everything else they wear, such as dresses, corsets, hats, gloves, etc. While vintage and antique shoes are available, they're almost never wearable, so there is a great gaping hole in this niche for footwear that is accurate, comfortable, and modernly sized.

Q: Why did you choose to recreate vintage style shoes?

AWe expanded our footwear offerings into the 1920s, 30s, and 40s because we had a lot of requests for these styles but there were, again, few options out there that are both historically accurate and affordable. It seemed silly not to develop our own line focusing on these decades. We knew that the women wanting these styles wear vintage or retro fashion regularly, so we set out to develop high-quality shoes with the same care and attention paid to historical accuracy as we do with the older Georgian and Victorian shoes, paired with sensible soling (rubber) for durability, comfort, and safety. It's a happy medium, plus there are SO many amazing vintage designs to draw inspiration from. The sky's the limit for the Royal Vintage collections.


Q: Out of all of the shoes you've designed which ones are your favorite?

A: This is a very hard question! We've made a lot of shoes over the years and very different styles. My current favorites have to be the Rosie Boots from the Royal Vintage Fall/Winter 2017 collection. I tested the prototype of these on a trip to England and Wales, hiking all over the place and they were so ridiculously comfortable and dependable that I kind of "bonded" with them if that's not too weird to say! I feel we really did that designs justice - they're a straight reproduction - and provided something to the vintage/retro community that hasn't been available before.


Q: Which era of shoes do you like the most and why?

A: I like the 1930s and 1940s the most. There are so many amazing, fun, funky, yet incredibly chic designs that are quintessentially vintage but also cross over to today so easily. When we get the '40s oxfords or platforms just right they look so amazing, so '40s, yet we end up wearing them with just everything. Plus there are endless inspiration shoes to drool over.


Q: Will you ever branch off into designing clothes?

A: Maybe! We're exploring some expansion into other accessories categories (can't reveal yet) and who knows, it may someday become a full clothing line too.


Q: Are there any up and coming designs that we can look forward to?

A: Oh yes! We've been working on all of next year's new designs. We're most excited about some adorable '40s oxfords we've got in the works for next Spring's Royal Vintage "Boardwalk" collection. We're also working on a bunch of new historic shoes for American Duchess - a few Civil War options and new Edwardian designs, which are also great cross-over shoes. And next Fall's boots for both brands are epic. We're very excited!

So I guess it is really just hard work and talent but I guess that has its own magic to it.

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