December 8th, 2016
My Loake Life:
In the fourth of our series My Loake Life, we talk to Oliver McCann, Footwear Designer and Pattern Cutter based at our factory in Kettering. Oliver joined us about two years ago, having developed an early passion for footwear which diverted him from a potential career in the sports industry to focus on men’s footwear design.
What does your typical week involve?
Working on new designs, cutting patterns and overseeing the majority of the prototypes circling our fast-paced factory.
What are you most looking forward to today?
We are coming to the close of our work on AW16 and I will be starting to focus on the SS17 ranges soon. We have some very exciting new concepts in mind, but I can’t reveal too much! You will just have to wait and see…
Which task do you wish you could postpone?
Today I would have to say anything that might free up a bit more time. We are currently at our busiest point of the season, it’s mid afternoon and I still haven’t had a chance to sit down yet – I need a cup of tea!
How did you get where you are today?
I have always had a passion for footwear, but this didn’t develop further until I made a last minute decision to change my college course from Sports Science to a Diploma in Art & Design. I was able to incorporate my passion for footwear into many of the projects set by my tutor and from there I went on to study Footwear Design at university. An internship at Vivienne Westwood developed into full time employment where I gained invaluable experience across men’s, women’s and children’s footwear, before being approached by Loake. I haven’t looked back!
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Always have a ‘Plan B’.
What is the best thing about your job?
Being able to see my work progress from initial sketch through to finished product. The sense of satisfaction that comes with seeing your work actually being worn and appreciated by customers makes all the hard work worthwhile.
Why do you think Loake has been able to continue making and selling shoes so successfully for over 130 years?
I think it’s the result of a good balance between tradition and modernity. By translating trends without compromising traditional craftsmanship, Loake has kept people interested in what it has to offer. It has retained its loyal customer base, but at the same time has won over a new generation of wearers.
What’s happening at the moment in terms of men’s formal footwear trends?
The trend for a more casual look in formal footwear continues with the use of non-typical leathers in classic styles or borrowing of design details from other footwear types, such as hiking or trainers. A new development is more simplistic patterns being used on rounder shaped lasts. What is refreshing for me as a designer is that men are experimenting more with footwear than ever before.
Tell us something not many people know about you.
I own an ice cream tricycle and have been known to sell ice creams around nearby Rutland Water in the summer.
What is your favourite pair of Loake shoes and why?
Without a doubt, Loake’s classic Eton Loafer. I have tried many Loake styles since I started working here, but I always return to this loafer. It’s easy to wear and so versatile that it works with smart, basic or very casual clothing.
How do you spend your time relaxing outside of work?
I try to get away for small city breaks as often as possible. I find it relaxing to explore new cities and try different foods and wine. However, I have just purchased my first property with the prospect of renovating – so I think the ‘relaxing’ part of my life may have just disappeared!
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Work hard, take chances and step out of your comfort zone every now and then.