I can't say that I myself have been a 'trouper' when it comes to posting but from hot and sizzling Istanbul (is it possible that the skin on your neck can melt?), I wanted to come back down to rain-sodden British clime with a reminder that F-Troupe have very quietly but surely open their first store on 33 Marshall Street off Carnaby Street. My feet haven't physically landed there yet but photographs by Akemi Kurosaka have wet my appetite for
a) F-Troupe's range of sturdy and affordable A/W10-11 boots that look like could take a lot of snow soaking
b) the Victorian curiosity shop references that flourish throughout the styling of the store
c) the extra bonus bits of clothing and accessories that will be added to the store
d) a collection of 'Handmade in England' brogues, made in Northampton aka land of the English brogue…
It's interesting to note that whilst F-Troupe's stockist trajectory is on a high, being here, there and everywhere, the thinking behind the brand has always been that of an independent shoe designer which perhaps makes the store feel like it's been well overdue. Still, for those that aren't avid online shoe hawkers or haven't had F-Troupe 'troop' into their wardrobe, them stumbling onto a store that has a 'Cobblers to her Majesty' sign swinging on the door, hand blown glass lampshades, taxidermy animals and freakshow Circus act imagery will be delighted by the physical presentation of their shoes.
Mick Hoyle, founder of F-Troupe together with one of F-Troupe design collaborators Jessica Ogden very kindly put together some words on each other, which I think tells a more indepth tale behind F-Troupe, the workings and their own creative backgrounds… oh and makes me wonder what an early form of the pop-up shop was like (in reference to Hoyle's 'Saturday' venture) and where Ogden does her sourcing (and can I follow her around vintage fairs?)
Mick Hoyle, Founder and designer of F-Troupe:
"I first met Jessica through a concept store I had back in the late 90s. I was renting an amazing space in Paddington with a partner and we came up with an idea to have what would now days be called a pop up store. Basically there was nothing in the space all week but on Saturdays we transformed it into a store and called it Saturday. I was a big fan of the work Jessica was doing with her own label and asked her to contribute pieces alongside other designers such as Seraph and Eley Kishimoto.
It‚Äôs difficult to describe Jessica‚Äôs aesthetic – I think she has a great eye for combining colour and vintage textile. Her style is very feminine but without being girly or obvious- which is so difficult to achieve. Her style is a wonderful combination of English, French and the Carribean!
When I started the footwear label F-Troupe I worked with Jessica again, collaborating on capsule shoe collections that she would use in her shows at London Fashion Week. We both took a break when Jessica stopped her own label but I really wanted to do something again and SS10 seemed like the right time. Jessica and I share a common sensibility and her designs work well with the rest of F-Troupe‚Äôs collection. I think collaborations should be mutually fulfilling and feel right- I am not keen on those who collaborate just to make a fast buck or get some attention.
I like that Jessica‚Äôs reference points often have nothing to do with footwear at all. She will show me an antique fabric or an appliqu√© that she‚Äôs sourced from God-knows-where and then we will start to build those ideas onto lasts that suit the mood."
Jessica Ogden, Designer:
"I‚Äôve been collaborating with Mick on and off for more than 10 years now. He has a great personal style and an amazing work ethic. He works extremely hard and his attention to detail is to be admired. F-Troupe is such a fun label with lots of quirky and surprising elements- no one would know the amount of research and time that goes into each style and that's what I love about it.
Mick and I both use vintage finds as inspirations for designing. Now that I have relocated to Paris I feel like I can bring another element to the collaborative process, as my places for sourcing has changed. In London I knew instinctively where to go to find the best buttons or the nicest lace but in Paris I had to start from scratch and work hard to find vintage shops that were right for me and my style. I know my way around now and have my little secrets; I still make research trips to England though. The other week I flew to Manchester for the day for a fair. When I had to get up in the middle of the night to catch my flight, I wondered what the hell I was doing but the trip was worth it as England still has some of the best vintage pieces in the world.
I think it‚Äôs important that I (literally) bring something different and unexpected to the table when working with F-Troupe- I think Mick would be disappointed if I didn‚Äôt."
Their S/S 11 collection (yes, let's get in there nice and early…) does exactly what Ogden said they would do and that is to put a smile on your face. Ogden is one of my earliest fashion crushes when I started researching London Fashion Week obsessively and her collections always a naive, uncomplicated joy to them that I think she has brought to her collaborative work (for Fred Perry, A.P.C. Madras and for F-Troupe)… that's a big yes to putting cross-stitches and pinking sheared flowers on your feet…