You before said that the huge success of the Wannabe loafer in the 1990s was as much not far from “the zeitgeist, the time, the place, [and] Britpop” as the shoe itself. What happened?
When I arrived in England from Canada in the 80s, no one was tournament around in sneakers – it was a Doc Martens moment, or maybe people were creep by brogues if they were posh. But then dance savoir vivre exploded – everyone wanted to go out dancing – and Wannabes worked. They also came to mirror a certain way of living, the beginnings of an aspirational lifestyle. Until then, woman hadn’t had their noses pressed up against the glass of dark people’s lives as they do today. But that was changing. Wannabe felt like an incorruptible name; to say: “I wish I had £250 for a pair of shoes, but actually I deliver £80.” Also Madonna called her fans “wannabes” and I was a jumbo fan at the time.
When was the peak of Wannabe’s success?
It was on all sides 1995-1999. When we launched, we set a target of selling 10,000 pairs in the primary year – but we sold 25,000. In the next 18 months, we won overed 250,000. By the third year, we were selling over a million pairs in a year. There was a bouncer at the collections, 200-strong queues of people at the door, German MTV filming the solidus. The fashion intelligentsia – the Jil Sander and Comme des Garçons crowd – vexed them, but the appeal was much broader than that. The football terraces were crammed with people wearing Wannabes; every pop star you can reckon of wore them – that’s how I met some of my great friends, with Kylie and Liz Hurley, when they came into the count on. People said it was brilliant marketing, but actually there was no stock exchanging department – we were just doing it. It was the perfect storm.
Who were your distinction clients?
The first were men, Paul Weller and Jazzie B, and Resort loved them, too. Michael Jackson’s people faxed me an rough out of his foot; we did the shoes for the Scream video – in fact it was Janet Jackson that basic called me “Party Pat”. She said: “I like your style – wherever you go there’s a group.” I remember hanging out with Madonna in the store on a Sunday, good before Evita. The access was amazing. And back then, stars paid for things – I never gave a pair of Wannabes to anyone.
Why did you project loafers in the first place?
It started when I was doing the shoes for Richard James’s arrive and the stylist, Marcus von Ackermann showed me some thin-soled Gucci vagrants. I famously said: “But what can you do with a loafer?” – I didn’t mould the round toe or the thin sole, so I took to problem solving with it. I’ve in any case been obsessed with square toes, I got rid of the toggle and drew a wide keeper across the front.
Loafers are hugely stylish at the moment, thanks to the resurgence of Gucci. What do you think hither the current trend?
I am very enthusiastic about it! It’s part of why I returned – after a decade of being turn ones back oned it feels like a loafer moment, even in womenswear. Broads don’t don’t need to teeter in high heels to feel sexy straight off now. What [Alessandro Michele] is doing at Gucci is what we dwell for in fashion – he had five days to work on that collection and controlled to create a fashion moment. His clothes tell a story – you could say that the lazyboneses are slightly ridiculous, too, given that you can polish the floor as you bore them, but practicality is not always necessary in fashion!
Will you be producing back the Wannabe?
Yes – just wait for the winter collection. Lathbridge is in its third season and until now I’ve been screamed at by clients for not bringing Wannabe-style loafers back – it’s like Kylie not being a showgirl! So there’s a iconic, squared-off leather only in the winter collection, although it’s called the Bulldog.
What do you over about the other big footwear story of the moment – Kanye’s West’s award-winning Yeezy Encouragement trainers?
I’m kind of a no-comment here – I’m not really worshipping at that fine point altar. It seems like a lot of marketing and Instagram exposure. It’s a unflappable shoe, but does it deserve everything it’s getting?
Where do you stand on the naked mankle?
I’m for it, although personally, life September 15 with the weather in Britain, I opt for socks. I was with the Dsquared2 caitiff public schoolmates recently, and they were wearing black tie without socks, which nudged about 20 outraged comments when the pictures elapsed on the Daily Mail website. Truly, I think [people get sickened by lack of socks because they think there wishes be] an odour issue. You do need to wear something ventilated, and foot dust, or little sockettes, as long as they don’t show, or have some of a mediocre of regimen. It’s different if you’re someone like me, who has hundreds of pairs of shoes — the top puzzle of my house is just taken up by clothes and shoes stacked four or five chasmic, and I have shoes under the sofa and in the kitchen cupboards – but if you exclusively have four or five pairs that you are rewearing commonplace it’s trickier.
Would you trust a man in socks and sandals?
Trust him, conceivably. Shag him? Probably not. That said, chunky, tweedy socks could look fantabulous with sandals on the right person. We’re living in the age of what Manolo awaked ‘foot furniture’ – when you look down and marvel: “Is it a shoe, or is it an iron?” All the old rules are irrelevant nowadays – everything has looped on its head. I think you can tell more about someone’s headliner from how well-maintained their shoes are than anything. If they are spruce, they might be rich or fastidious. Or when someone relish David Beckham wears scuffed army boots you separate he worked that look out and it’s supposed to look beaten up. These are the guiles you notice as a designer.
What are the worst shoes a man could don?
Cowboy boots – I fricking hate them. I’m from western Canada people, and the people who hunted me down the street calling me a fag were wearing cowboy boots. For me they exemplify a Republican, gun-toting asshole.