Q&A: Archie Hewlett, founder of Duke & Dexter

Duke & Dexter founder, Archie Hewlett, shares the story of his three-year-old brand, explaining why he offers customers the ability to personalise their shoes.

ER: Give us a short history of the brand.

AH: Duke & Dexter is a British born footwear label, I launched when I was only 19. Now three years old, it specialises in premium shoes for those who appreciate modern, functional and spirited apparel.

Designed in London and handcrafted in England, we choose to innovate the conventional whilst working off traditional styles, through offering an array of colours, textures, prints and motifs, while never faltering on exceptional comfort to accommodate a contemporary lifestyle.

Fusing global inspiration with British charm, we build bold, personal collections for those who strive to create their own look, rather than following the latest seasonal fashion. Our typical clients are aged between 20-35.

ER: Is personalisation a new venture or has it been part of the brand from the beginning?

AH: The bespoke element has always been something we wanted to focus on, but it has truly come into fruition with the move to hand make each pair in England.

Because of our craftsmen's advanced ability in embroidery, it’s something we felt should be pushed to the forefront of the business. That quality and old-school technique is rarely seen nowadays.

For our clients, we feel this genuine take on personalisation is really appreciated and it’s a nice element to showcase traditional British talent. It's something we’re very proud of.

What technology do you use to ensure customers can personalise their products?

We have an online bespoke platform where clients can choose their upper and trim colours alongside the option to initial or motif a product. From there a member of our design team will send a mock up and on confirmation from the client, we alert our workshop.

ER: Is personalisation scalable?

AH: As the company expands, of course there will have to be a rethink on strategy and manpower.

However, one of the founding values of Duke & Dexter was to never compromise on quality, whilst also providing attractive price points and this is how we will continue, regardless of our size.

We have a very talented team who know the industry well and are masters of their craft, so there will never be a pair which isn’t given the same amount of time and dedication.

ER: Why do your customers want individual products?

AH: Why wouldn’t they? For such a huge market it’s amazing to see so many labels either repeat older trends or even imitate each other.  

Everyone has their own taste and style which is individual to them and that’s what makes the fashion world great. But we are really trying to create timeless pieces which people love and will wear throughout the seasons. We're trying to provide more depth to our products. From global inspiration, which is diarised in our social media, right through to products being handmade in our workshop.

ER: What’s been the biggest technology impact to your brand?

AH: Probably artificial intelligence. It’s much easier to align your business and goals when you have a clearer idea of who your clients are!

Instagram has also been a huge element to brand development and exposure and we do spend a lot of time perfecting the visuals we feel best represent what we’re doing. Unless you have the product in front of you, it’s tricky to portray the extent of work and thought that goes into perfecting each pair.

ER: How do expect to use technology in the future?

AH: There’s a play with our company on keeping things traditional and testing new technological developments. It’s also an ambiguous question because we never know what we be the next best platform or vice to take us to the next stage.

In respect to our online store and presence, there will no doubt be extra add-outs we look to include. However, for our manufacturing, we will always strive to keep hand craftsmanship the primary technique of production.