So, how’d this all start? I mean, what makes a woman make insoles?!?!
Alice Bow is one of those classic problems solving stories. A shoe-loving woman (me!) has trouble finding a pair of black patent heels that combines style and comfort. My Isabel Marant favs were so loved, they were starting to crack. They’d been perfection - rounded toe, heel height just so, fitted beautifully, could go from boardroom to dance floor, suits to skinny jeans, walking home after a night out in town to my then single girl pad in Primrose Hill, .... you get the idea.
But, because they were seasonal designer shoes, they couldn’t be replaced. (Marant went heavily into pointy-toe heels after that season, which don’t really work for my wider feet.) Searched all over central London - department stores to boutiques, designer to cheapies. Found a replacement pair that ticked most boxes, but they had no padding. Zilch. Nada. How rude, I thought! Like seriously, why no padding?!
And, when I asked for some, they gave me a really generic insole that was more Boots than Bond St - and didn’t actually solve the issue. An ugly insole that looked as out of place as grandma’s girdles would have looked in La Perla. And this was a store that sold only their own brand shoes. I was paying over £200 - surely the shoes and I deserved padding?!
I got the shoes, but went away with a question in my head....
Why was the women’s shoe industry so broken that I couldn’t get a pair of staples - black patent heels - that looked good, fitted my feet AND had padding?
The story of Alice Bow started from there. I took my thirst for a solution into intensive shoe making study at Cordwainers. (Alumni include Jimmy Choo, LK Bennett, Rupert Sanderson, Sophie Webster, ...). My tutors, Heather and Mark, were beyond patient and developed my understanding of footwear constraints and the industry.
From there I studied shoe fitting and nerded out on feet.
Originally, I wanted to start a shoe label for wider feet like mine - but the more I learnt, the more scary that sounded. You’d need £100k to have a chance to get a footwear label decently off the ground, with no guarantee of success.
So I went back to the original problem at kicked this all off - padding. Or rather, lack there off.
And that’s how Alice Bow started.