Award-winning footwear designer Tracey Neuls shuns catwalk trends in favour of doing her own thing. Something that she’s been working on since the age of nine, when using two cereal boxes and loo rolls for heels, Tracey created a very early prototype – and fondly recalls her mother letting her walk down the street in makeshift, cardboard shoes. Things have moved on since then; having studied at Cordwainer’s College the Canadian-born designer is now based in London and has two stores, with a new shop opening at Coal Drops Yard in October. Using eye-catching fabrics such as neon- bright patent leather and leopard print ponyskin (cowhide) she creates wearable shoes with wow factor.
Tracey and I first met when she was running her first label TN_19 and I was writing about London footwear trends for a European trade magazine; her striking designs were just what I was looking for. Almost 20-years later, Tracey Neuls is renowned for her sculptural, run-around styles – or what the London Design Museum calls, ‘Beautiful shoes for an active life.’ The best-selling Geek style has a rubber sole, often uses reflective material and is designed as a shoe you can cycle in. Not surprisingly, Tracey Neuls has a cult-like following amongst female creatives. Last time I popped into the Marylebone store (to ask Tracey’s shoe-buying advice for Know Your Style), a female customer arrived straight off a flight from America, bought a pair of shoes, jumped in a taxi and went off to an architecture conference.
“People might describe my style as eclectic. It’s personal. I can spend a lot but also spend a little. I like to wear comfortable, versatile clothes and it’s important to me that I feel like myself. Comfort is not a dirty word, it’s what comes when you feel most like you.
My Simone Rocha smock dress is great for when I’m in and out of meetings all day. There’s just something special about it, it’s a beautiful cotton and very light, too. I like it when something ordinary is subverted – the neckline, the ruching and smocking, add an edge to the traditional, gingham fabric. I’ve always had a good time in it and I feel good about myself when I’m wearing it. And it’s a multi-tasking, all-occasion dress: I wore it to Chelsea Flower Show and I’m opening a shop in Kings Cross (Coal Drop’s Yard) and wore it to a big meeting there because it’s the kind of dress that you can play up with shoes.
I don’t like throw-away culture. I want clothes that will last. I love black and white, checks and stripes, there’s just something timeless about these things.
My go-to at the moment is a vintage, fluorescent pink, cotton velvet coat. It’s quite Mad Men and nothing like the clothes I usually wear. I love the ¾ sleeves. It’s from Canada, and when I go back I find the most amazing vintage clothes. I got it for 80 dollars and it’s in great shape. I’m not really a pink person but once it goes beyond girlie pink, then I love it. I prefer the extremes of colours, like neons.
I wear shoes like jewellery. I don’t really need them to match my outfits. I like how shoes can be a pick-me-up, they can transform a look into something new. If I have overalls on and stick on wedges or heels, I can turn a casual outfit into something else. My Geek Shoes are my go-to for walking. I wear a lot of black and white so colour adds interest. I like to add a little sparkle or texture – I call this Utilitarian Glamour. I also like a tiny bit on ankle showing – when you’re wearing jeans, or leggings with a dress, it’s nice to have a peep of ankle.”
Entrepreneur Interview With Tracey Neuls
Sophie Barnard from Longstaff Longstaff discover our brand while walking the Marylebone Lane. Inspired by Tracey's approach to design and brand ethic, she decided to interview Tracey Neuls for her personnal project.
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Most footwear looks dated after a year - not ours. Iconic Designs worn ever so little in this winter's lockdown are thankfully timeless and just as relevant and desirable as ever for years to come.