Duke & Dexter
Founder, Hugh Wolton
Duke & Dexter is a British born footwear label, specialising in premium loafers. Designed in London and handcrafted in England, the brand launched in 2014.
How important is a combined internet/bricks and mortar approach for your core consumer?
An omni-channel approach is essential to serve the needs of our customers. Selling shoes online is inherently difficult because consumers want to see the quality and ensure they get the correct fit – the D&D flagship store gives our customers the opportunity to experience the brand first hand and choose from our entire collection. Once they know their size, they can return to our website and order again.
Where do you see the brand being in ten years time?
We want to continue to establish D&D as a leading contemporary shoe brand and focus on breaking into new markets across the globe. So much has changed in the past year and that makes it difficult to predict the next decade! Our recent store opening in Seven Dials has been a hugely exciting project and proves Duke & Dexter’s long-term credibility.
Where have your biggest influences come from?
We’re exposed to so many influences on a daily basis which makes it challenging to select one. I’d like to think we take inspiration from others in a business and fashion sense – building Duke & Dexter combines our passion for both elements of retail.
What future challenges and developments do you foresee in the retail industry?
The dominance of Amazon is a worry for all retailers due to the vast amounts of data they collect from customers and their ability to influence online pricing. Social media will become the new marketplace for online shoppers – we’ve already seen this development in action with Facebook Marketplace and Instagram will follow with their own version in 2017.
The product is beautifully designed how do you ensure consistency as you grow the brand?
We relocated our manufacturing to England from Italy in May 2016 because we always wanted to be a totally British brand and associate ourselves with the heritage of British craftsmanship. We have a close working relationship with our craftsmen in Sheffield who fully understand our vision and the direction we want to move in. It’s crucial to maintain consistent communication and creative support in order to ensure the highest levels of quality.
Your one piece of advice for anyone considering starting a high end fashion brand?
Stay relevant to the customer. Retail is a hugely dynamic industry and as a brand grows, so does its audience. It’s crucial to maintain a fine balance between adapting to consumer demands and maintaining the brand’s core values.