We sat down with the master of soft suedes herself to discuss the inspiration behind her designs, how the pandemic has affected business and share her tips for start up brands.
We love your designs - if you were to summarise your chief design inspirations what would they be?
I continually refer back to traditional techniques for inspiration, researching the rich archives of the past to design for our future.
We work closely with our artisans, who have taught me my trade over the years, and we encourage age-old techniques to be continued, believing that these are often more sustainable than newer ones. We are passionate about keeping dying crafts alive.
The mantra that your designs are made 'to go anywhere, to do anything' is one we embrace here at TROY also. What is your most loved design and how adventurous have you been in them?
Everything we make is about providing empowering, effortless, and lasting style. Our footwear and accessories become wardrobe staples; the dog walking boot, the easy espadrille, the quintessential Chelsea boot; footwear to run for a bus, and ‘get the job done’!
One of my all time favourites for all things adventurous, are the Jungle Boots. They have come with me on lots of intrepid trips over the years, most recently wading through leech filled marshes in the rain forests of northern Argentina.
Having been brought up in England, you went to university in Spain and your love affair with Spanish leatherwork was born. How much of an influence is Spain on your designs today?
The design references from the equestrian world in Southern Spain reflect the 500 years of Arab rule. Moorish arabesques in the decorative stitch work, and transparent layering of leathers not dissimilar to Moorish plasterwork. Details like these have become our trademarks, while the equestrian aesthetic/outdoor life of the equestrian world is still a constant inspiration to me.
Covid-19 has had a horrible impact on so many businesses. How are you adapting to manage during this time?
While the initial shock of having to temporarily close our London stores in Mayfair and Notting Hill, our online sales have soared beyond our expectations during this period. It has been a time of reflection for the business to embrace new ideas for our future. In the design team we are evermore determined to design long lasting pieces that are relevant in peoples lives today. And our stores are ready to open again soon!
What is your typical day during this lockdown period, and what clothes to you reach for each morning?
During lockdown we have been lucky to live the rural life that the collection was designed for. My collection of ankle boots from previous collections and varying ages, are kept in the boot room for daily walks, while espadrilles are my summer staple for every day. Walking on a natural jute sole is a cool and healthy option for those hot days. Day to day, I have found myself reaching for summer dresses and jeans to wear with ankle boots. We have been so lucky with the weather and I like to always be ready for a walk!
You have selected the Tracker Jacket as your favourite TROY piece - why?
I love its classic cut, with defined shoulders and collar and quality twill cotton. Little details like the piped internal seams make it really special.
Tell us about your perfect summer's evening at home, what is on the menu? My new favourite cocktail is a long, cool Vodka and Tonic with 1/ 3rd of No.1 sparkling Rosemary Water and plenty of fresh rosemary from the garden. We hurry up the meadow to catch the last rays of sunshine of the day for that special hour together before dinner. There’s a lot of locally grown asparagus in Gloucestershire at the moment, which I barba-que. I simply marinate them in olive oil, salt and lemon. Shopping local and supporting our local businesses is something I really hope will continue long beyond this wonderfully boosted trend during lockdown.
You have built a beautiful brand from scratch and must be so proud of what it is today. What words of advice do you have for people thinking of starting their own brand?
Keep to a vision, but allow daily ideas and influences to steer your brand forwards keeping it relevant to your customer as the world moves on. Listen hard to your customer and build a team around you that form a rock of love for the brand, strengthened by a healthy culture of teamwork, and a culture from which creativity is stimulated.
TROY and Penelope Chilvers
To perk up your week we are giving you the chance to win our Tracker Jacket in Navy with Penelope Chilvers' River Suede Espadrilles in Flame, worth over £400.
Simply enter your details below and the winner will be randomly selected on Tuesday 23rd June... GOOD LUCK!