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My Fashion Life: Jones Bootmaker head of design, Barbara Paleka Lucas

The Jones Bootmaker head of design talks hertitage, craftsmanship and her background in industrial design.

After training in industrial design, Barbara Paleka Lucas turned her hand to footwear. She is now head of design at footwear brand Jones Bootmaker.

Barbara paleka lucas

Barbara paleka lucas

Barbara Paleka Lucas

What’s your design process? What do you do to get inspiration?

I sketch, I dream, I look at the world around me. I used to carve heels myself – I came to footwear via last-making – but I don’t get the time any more. 

In your mind, what makes the perfect shoe?

Can there ever be a perfect shoe?

How important is the brand’s heritage to your design?

Incredibly important. You can’t buy time – it is the most precious thing. Jones Bootmaker has an amazing history entwined with the likes of Church’s and even Prada. You can’t make it up.

Jones Bootmaker men autumn 15

Jones Bootmaker men autumn 15

Have you ever worked designing things other than shoes?

My background is industrial design – furniture. I worked as a model-maker at an architectural firm, and also had a stint at [luggage-maker] Samsonite in the 1990s.

Why do you enjoy designing shoes? How is it different?

Shoes are imbued with so much by the women and men who wear them. It’s powerful. When I finished my BA in industrial design, we had had sustainability drilled into our heads for four solid years. A lot of fledgling designers walked away, disheartened, thinking “Why do I want to make things that will just end up in a landfill?” But here, when we do it right, we have a chance to make products that will be loved, cherished, and mean something.

What do you love most about your job?

I love the factories – true craftsmen inspire me.

Whom do you admire most in the fashion industry?

I admire Anita Barr, who I worked under at AllSaints and is now buying director at Harvey Nichols. She was a real inspiration as someone who worked hard to get where they are, and did it incredibly graciously.

What was the last new brand you discovered?

A boutique New York jewellery brand—Quarry—made by an old university friend from my furniture days. She sells at Creatures of Comfort and Maryam Nassir Zadeh in New York, but not in the UK yet.

What has been your career highlight to date?

Taking on the challenge of Jones Bootmaker, of course.

jones bootmaker bristol

jones bootmaker bristol

What’s the best business advice you were ever given?

Always try to clearly visualise where you want to be. It’ll help you make it happen.

Tell us something about you not many people know 

My parents are from the islands of Croatia. I spent much of my childhood there, long before it became a boutique holiday destination.

What would we find you doing at the weekend?

Gardening with my toddler. And browsing British History Online – I’m an addict.



Favourite clothing brands?

It’s a tie: Dries Van Noten and Rachel Comey

Favourite places to shop?

Harvey Nichols and eBay

Last holiday?

Lavenham, Suffolk

Last book you read?

Luella’s Guide to English Style by Luella Bartley

Last filmed you watched?

Boyz n the Hood — reliving my 90s youth!

First job?

An archival bookbinder at the Rhode Island School of Design

Dream job?

My own bespoke furniture company

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