We are passionate about how our shoes are made. It doesn't matter how beautiful a pair of shoes look if they don't feel just as good or fit well. Shoe making is a beautiful combination of art and engineering, a highly complex process with an incredible number of steps to get them from concept to reality. There are many factors which make our shoes unique- some you can see and some you can feel. We're known for our distinctive signature style which is vintage inspired with a unique twist, but another factor which really sets our shoes apart is their unrivalled comfort. So what is it which makes them so comfortable?

1. Design 

People often ask where the inspiration for Rachel's designs come from- it's a great question but actually quite tricky to answer! The truth is it's a real mix of looking at what's trending, talking to our customers (we love your feedback), a good sprinkling of vintage inspiration... but also just from the ideas in Rachel's head! We like to think this varied combination is what gives our shoes their unique signature style.

Whilst many designers work directly on screen, we're pretty old school here at Rachel Simpson and every idea starts with good old fashioned pencil and paper! There's something really fluid about sketching which makes it easier to get ideas down as they appear and start to bring them to life. It can take a while to perfect the final design and Rachel will often draw on a 3D form before committing the design to 2D, so she can really understand how all the pieces are going to fit together. 

Ivory and gold t-bar shoes in production

When Rachel designs a shoe she pays as much attention to the cut and the fit as she does to the look of it. There are so many things to consider, such as where straps cross over the foot, where seams sit etc. It's also important for a shoe to flatter the foot so it's vital to get all the proportions correct as this can make a big difference.

2. The perfect fit

Once the design is complete our factory make the first prototype- you might think this is enough, but in reality it can take two or three versions before we're 100% happy. We fit test each new sample, making what are often tiny adjustments each time so we get the cut of the shoe and of course, the fit just right.

Once we've confirmed the production sample the nest step is to grade the patterns for every single size. We make all Rachel Simpson shoes in sizes 36 (UK 3) to 42 (UK 8), so there are a lot of patterns to make! Every single shoe is made up of a surprisingly large number of pieces- not least because we're known for our often intricate designs. There are patterns for the upper pieces, patterns for the lining pieces; patterns for the piece of leather which covers the heel, for the insole binding and the sock...the list goes on! Having well cut patterns is yet another part of the shoe making process which hugely affects how a pair of shoes feels, so we work with expert pattern cutters to make sure we get it just right!

Rachel Simpson Mimosa ivory and gold shoes being made

Many the pieces of our shoes are cut by hand as they're too intricate for machine cutting. Materials suppliers work even further ahead than designers on forthcoming trends and develop lot of new colours and materials. This makes Rachel's job very exciting but it can be tricky choosing the final colours and materials with so much choice!

3. High quality materials

Most of our uppers (unless they're fabric), and all of our shoe linings and socks are made from 100% natural leather which not only feels amazing underfoot, it also allows your feet to breath so you don't need to worry about sweaty feet! Leather also has a wonderful natural give, so will shape itself to your individual foot during wear- the more you wear them, the comfier they get! This is also why many of our shoes will fit a range of width fittings, from more narrow to a wider fit.

Our trainers are made from a high grade synthetic leather, so they're as close as we can get to the benefits of natural leather.

We're pretty fussy when it comes to materials and select only the highest quality suedes, leathers and fabrics. 

Stitched pieces of an ivory and gold shoe in production

4. Heels

Another hugely important factor when designing shoes which are as comfortable as they are beautiful is selecting the perfect heel. The heel of any shoes makes a big difference to the comfort factor- not just in the height but also in the shape. Our collection goes elegantly from low heels to mid/ high heels, from a classic curved slim heel to modern block heels. Each one has been carefully selected to compliment the style of the shoe so the result is perfectly balanced in both look and feel.  

 Mint green suede shoes on a production line

 As we've said, there are so many factors which go into designing and making a shoe- this is just four. But good design, a great fit, high quality materials and a carefully selected heel are a great place to start- that and a little bit of RS magic!

Click here to see the finished products and view the collection.