We meet the creator of Irregular Choice shoes, Danny Sullivan.
When did you first start designing shoes?
I started designing shoes almost 10 years ago and it was something I naturally fell into. Both of my parents are in the shoe industry and when I was younger I would follow them around fabric stores and factories and picked up their skills along the way.
Was fashion something that has always interested you?
I've always been interested in fashion. Nobody was doing anything experimental with footwear that was also affordable and I wanted to change that. When I was in my 20's I took a trip to China to visit my parents factories and knew this was what I wanted to do.
How did Irregular Choice get started?
I was basically bumming around in my late 20's, not really sure where I was going. And I decided to make a trip to the East, to visit some factories that my father was working with in Vietnam, on product for customers such as BHS. Not really finding much there, I heard that China was up and coming with regards to manufacturing, and that it might be a good place to have a look.
When I got into China, I found small artisan factories that were making 200 pairs a week, at really good prices. These were factories where the owners were farmers up to a year or so previous, and had downed tools and set up a factory, and I am still working with them now. I knew that if you didn't deliver even the smallest orders, then you would never succeed as a brand. It is normally the faster shoes that you have the smallest orders on, but those orders are normally for prime store image locations, therefore you need to get them made and get your brand in those stores.
So once I had the manufacturing in place, and I could develop the brand I wanted, it was just a matter of sitting down putting something fun together. Something that was affordable, irregular and wasn't in the market. And although it was only 10 years ago, there was not much going on in the shoe world in the late 90's / early 2000's. But I knew so many friends that wanted something different, wanted some colour and some fun. So I knew it would work. The first season I got about 600 pairs on order - which are really small quantities, but I was able to deliver them, and slowly grow the business.
Where does the name come from?
It came from the saying "There is Order in Chaos". Just because something clashes doesn't mean it won't work. It's great to push the boundaries and be a bit unusual and irregular. The shoes are like garnishings on a very flamboyant wedding cake.
Where do you start when designing a new shoe & where do you look for inspiration?
My collections don't focus on one theme. I will sometimes have 8 different themes running through a collection from WWF Wrestling to Swan Lake, Sci-fi to dainty cherry blossom designs. It really depends on where I've been, what I've seen...
Which of your designs are your personal favorites?
The Japanese Split Toe since that was the first design I ever did and still pops up in the collection. Also a collection I did with lots of Cameo's based on Marie Antoinette.
Which stars can be seen in your shoes?
Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, Fergie and Sienna Miller have been spotted in my designs.
Your branching out in to fashion and accessories, can you tell us your plans?
Yes, we recently did a collaboration with the designer Emma Bell and our own clothing line is selling out fast! Expect unicorns and manga characters. The bags will come in cute animal shapes and metallic finishes.
What's next for Irregular Choice?
To open a store in Brighton, where IC started. We also celebrate our 10th anniversary next year so we'll be planning something extravagant for that.
See more gorgeous shoes or pick up a pair from Irregular Choice. (Images courtesy of Irregular Choice and FreeDigitalPhotos.net)