The U.K. has been known to produce enduring royals, musicians and footwear brands. Since 1945, Shellys London has been a player in the women’s footwear market, adjusting to the ebbs and flows of fashion. And like all things that are cool and British, American consumers have clamored for the brand during peak fashion seasons.
Shellys London is out to revive its popularity in the States by reintroducing its au courant styles to a new generation of trendsetting women with a taste for big heels and individual style. Snowden Brothers, a private label company owned by former Topline Corp. executives (and brothers) Bill and Rick Snowden, took over the British company’s North American business a year and a half ago from Canada-based Aldo Group. With their experience leading fashion labels like Report, Bill and Rick are helping the company find its way once again.
In recent seasons, Rick Snowden said there’s been a need for more consistency in the delivery of the product, especially in order to compete with low-price, fast fashion labels that pander to Millennials’ thirst for instant runway looks. “We have a solid commitment with our factory. It’s our intent to deliver new product every two months, keeping it fresh, and react to what the market is telling us. We want to be proactive,” he said.
If footwear was having a moment in fashion, Shellys London was there front row and center. In the ’60s, the brand became synonymous with Mod style and was one to watch for new and outrageous silhouettes. Snowden recalls “shopping” Shellys London when he worked for Nordstrom during this time. “The brand always had trend-setting items and pushed it to edge. They were at the forefront of what was happening,” he said.
Chelsea boots, platforms, creepers and winklepickers—the ultra-pointed footwear made famous by the likes of David Bowie—were some of the brand’s signature items during the ’60s and ’70s. The brand had a resurgence again in the ’90s when heavy bottom, grunge-inspired shoes came into style.
Nowadays, the company’s focus is on a winning combination of design, quality and product. Collections are steered by an inquisitive London-based design team in Shoreditch—London’s answer to Williamsburg—and are tweaked by designers in North America to better suit local taste without losing its London coolness.
For Spring ’16, Snowden said the brand is offering “the best of both worlds” with a blend of European festival fashion styling, and dress and casual platforms. Highlights include patchwork denim clogs, black and white EVA sandals that mix in touches of jute and snake, flatform oxfords and ghillies dotted with grommets along the straps. Shoes retail for $90-$120.
“Our customer is anti-corporate, a little edgy. That consumer doesn’t need a logo on her shoes to validate their style,” Snowden said. “We’re looking to position with retailers who we feel can understand the brand and help the consumer relate to it.”
The brand’s U.K. roots are what continue to make it stand out in a sea of sameness. For their private label business, Snowden said they base collections on key trends they discover while shopping Europe, but that’s not for Shellys.
“Shellys is different. It is very focused with little overlap,” he said. “The U.K. has always been a great unique view point and knows how to be special without being too crazy. That’s where the excitement lies, so we are trying to fuel that fire to be interesting and creative.”