As Rupert Sanderson opens his pioneering new London store he is optimistic about the future

Rupert Sanderson
(Image credit: Future)

Rupert Sanderson launched his eponymous label in 2001 and after over 24 years in business, it is still going strong. He counts the Princess of Wales and Cate Blanchett amongst his most prominent clients and his shoes are a regular fixture on the red carpet. At a time when retailers and independent designers are struggling with the ever-changing global retail market, soaring production costs and unpaid invoices, in contrast, Rupert Sanderson remains optimistic.

Sitting in his newly opened London store, tucked behind the busy streets of Oxford Circus, he tells me about his new home, “I looked everywhere in London, and I came up here, saw this space and thought… it's this all-in-one thing…like a gallery. I quite like the idea of this pioneering thing, where we move in and then other people start to use us as an example of what it might look like.”

The Princess Of Wales Wearing Rupert Sanderson

The Princess of Wales wearing Rupert Sanderson

(Image credit: Getty Images)

After nearly two decades in Mayfair, Rupert has moved to the heart of London’s Fitzrovia, an area fast becoming an integral part of London’s gallery scene where established tastemakers rub shoulders with emerging trendsetters. With a mix of residential properties, restaurants and independent businesses - he's confident his relocation will inspire others to follow suit.

This new space serves as the brand’s headquarters, with retail on the ground floor but also extensive storage space for fulfilling online orders, a workshop and office space above. Looking around his store, his signature style combining colour and impeccable design is unmistakable.

When I ask him how difficult it is to maintain a clear identity and to block out the noise, at a time where trends are fast evolving due to social media, he says, “You’re aware…and almost by osmosis the stuff that's worth retaining seeps in. It's fatal to chase after trends.” His advice to designers starting out, “stick to what you’re known for and move the eye gently. If you jump around too much ultimately you lose customers.”

Rupert began his career as a shoemaker at the relatively late age of 33 after attending the world-renowned Cordwainers College in East London, and winning a scholarship to design for a season with Sergio Rossi. He subsequently went on to take up a permanent position with the legendary Italian shoe brand Bruno Magli until he returned to London to launch his own label. No stranger to success, he won the British Fashion Council Accessory Designer of the Year award in 2008.

In a world recently overtaken by the quiet luxury trend and as he calls it “anti-design” his shoes are a reminder of the beauty of craftsmanship. “There is alot of understated stuff, you know, barely there, but there’s a balance. I like the idea of keeping a perfect line…its very important to me…using simple lines rather than piling stuff on and instead playing with proportions.”

Whilst he maintains his signature 4-inch heels are the sweet spot for giving his customers the height and posture needed to feel confident he confirms heel heights have come down and counts his lower sling backs as one of his best sellers.

Florence Pugh wearing Rupert Sanderson white shoes

Florence Pugh wearing Rupert Sanderson

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Just before I leave, he tells me a little known fact that all his shoes are named after daffodils. Whilst he admits he may have post-rationalised his reasoning behind it, he says it was a solution to always coming up with new names for his shoes, owning an extensive collection of books on daffodils from the Royal Horticultural Society. “Theres a certain sort of optimism about them, you know, spring's here…and they’re part of the narcissus family, and of course narcissism, falling in love with your own reflection….they’re infinitely variable.”

You can’t help but cheerlead Rupert. If his positive outlook is an indication of where retail is going, then its most definitely something we can all get behind.

To shop go to or visit Rupert Sanderson, 61 Great Portland Street, London W1W 7LL

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Fashion Director