It’s a tale we hear in this business everyday: Joe Schmoe felt there was something missing in the footwear industry, so he created a line to fill that void. Soon after, all too often, the wishful brand goes missing altogether.
That’s the shot in the dark approach Mick Hoyle, founder and designer of British women’s brand F-Troupe, embarked on in 2003, except, unlike most, his tale has been an ongoing one. Today, the London-based label offers 70 styles and boasts more than 150 wholesale accounts. Not bad for a label that launched its first season with just six wholesale accounts. “The Spring ’13 collection will mark our 10th birthday, so we felt that we would revisit some of our classic styles from the past,” Hoyle says. “We mixed in bright colors and a variety of textures and we feel the collection has a happy and easy-to-wear feel.”
Manufactured in Asia, Portugal and the U.K., the shoes wholesale from $20 to $120. Mixing Victorian England with vintage flea market, the women’s styles range from a neon all-rubber “bathing shoe” sneaker to a mesh-and-calf nubuck western boot. It’s an influence that extends to the brand’s flagship store in London, where carefully curated British paraphernalia fills the shop’s interior. Come summer, the brand will re-launch its “Made in England” capsule collection of brogues, handmade in Northampton by an independent factory founded in 1881 that specializes in producing small runs. It will be available exclusively at the flagship.
“We have a real cross section of women who buy our brand,” says Hoyle, a self-taught designer who worked in retail for 20 years. “The age range is from 16 to 60, but I would say that most of the women who buy our shoes appreciate the quirkiness and fun side of the brand.”
Some of F-Troupe’s strongest partners on this side of the pond include Barneys New York, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and American Rag. Hoyle says the goal is to expand distribution, but the product must do the talking. “We are trying to focus on our quality and attention to detail,” he says. “At the end of the day, especially in this current market, it’s about giving a product with a point of difference whilst also achieving sell-through.”