A short while back I agreed to meet a young, fledgling shoe designer called Aksha Fernandez at a coffee shop in Marylebone.
I had liked the fuzzy black and white pictures she had sent through to us and I was intrigued enough to meet up, even though at this time Aksha had no production planned and, what's more, we had spent up our season's budget.
The coffee shop was rammed and we sat huddled over a tiny table for two with bags and laptops and briefcases spilling about. Leaning down Aksha lifted out a crisp white box and unwrapped swathes of tissue to reveal my very first Aksha Fernandez shoe.
As with the first time I touched a ruffled Felicity Brown gown or gloried in the colour and print of a Charlotte Taylor shirt I felt the shivers run down my spine. This was a truly beautiful piece of design. Immediately classic and immediately of its time. Softest caramel suede, perfectly balanced platform and heel, exquisite laser cutting and a plethora of hand stitched leaves cascading about its shape. It was a little like a Cinderella moment.
If you haven't read my meanderings before you will know that I cannot do full on prettiness or bright beam girliness. If I wear florals or lace there'll certainly be denim or battered boots to be found about my person. Yet Aksha's designs somehow combine delicious sensuality of a very female kind with a kind of powerful, almost fierce All Woman undertone.
We had no choice, We were besotted and we worked with Aksha to get all three of her first designs produced and onto youngbritishdesigners.com.
It's not easy being a young shoe designer. Samples are extortionate. And samples have to be utterly perfect for a new name. To meet exacting standards only the finest shoe making factories can be used. Yet you are unable to bring your prices down because you do not have the network of stockists you need in order to do so. So, you end up making little or nothing on your first collections. And you keep doing that for as long as you possibly can, or until funds or energy run out. Fledgling designers like Aksha work long hours in jobs that either add to their experience and/or help them keep producing samples/ next collections. Evenings and weekends and a separate mind space are kept for their own design momentum. It's bloody tough and you need to be bloody determined.
And even then some luck is needed.
Aksha is currently working on SS13. We have just been party to her first thoughts and because we want to see her fly we are asking you to spread the word too. If you love exquisite shoes then please consider a pair of these (you will not be disappointed, we've not had a single return). If you're a buyer at Selfridges, Browns, Liberty or any other inspirational retailers then please take the time to consider this young designer. If you're a fashion editor please call in a sample of these beautiful shoes and set your page alight.
We're all about young British designers and we're all about selling their wares so that they can continue to grow their beautiful, brilliant brands. Aksha is just one of our rising stars. She is working her arse off for what she believes in. That deserves our infinite respect. And she deserves all the luck you can help bring.