Nicholas Rayne’s family brand has made shoes for queens past and present.
Heritage shoemaker Rayne Shoes was launched in London in 1885 by current managing director Nicholas Rayne’s great-grandparents, Henry and Mary Rayne.
The business started life as a theatrical costumier, but the company gradually steered its focus to women’s footwear. In 1930, it was granted a royal warrant as a shoemaker to Queen Mary, the wife of King George V. It has since gone on to hold royal warrants for the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II.
Under Rayne’s leadership, the company relaunched in 2013 to “reawaken” interest in the brand, both nationally and internationally. It was marked with a celebratory pop-up in luxury department store Selfridges, which was designed by Thomas Messel, the nephew of Oliver Messel who designed Rayne Shoes’ flagship store on Old Bond Street.
Each collection includes a range of styles, from sandals and slingbacks to boots, loafers and slippers. Wholesale prices range from £155 for its carry-over pump to £200 for its sabot shoe in silver leather.
Stockists include Cheshire’s Hoity Toity in the UK, Farfetch, and luxury boutiques in the US, Japan, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
Rayne spoke to Drapers about his fashion life.
What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Check my emails.
What was your first job?
Working in the stockroom at Rayne Shoes’ Regent Street shop during the school holidays.
How would you describe the brand in one sentence?
Stylish, luxury and heritage.
What is your coffee (or tea) order?
An Earl Grey with cold milk on the side.
Where are your favourite places to shop?
(Luxury fashion store) Luisa Via Roma in Florence.
Last fashion purchase? Why did it catch your eye?
An Italian leather jacket from a small boutique in Florence. It’s beautifully made using a wonderfully soft leather… I haven’t worn it yet though as I don’t want to ruin it!
Emails or phone calls?
Email, always. It’s quicker, more precise and less stressful – there’s a record of what was said, too.
Most important lesson you’ve learned during your career?
Never believe what you are told.
What would be your ideal office/meeting space?
A standing room, to keep meetings short.
What’s your favourite part of the creative process?
Seeing the first prototypes of our kids’ shoe brand, Step2wo, and our ladies’ brand, Rayne.
What has been your proudest moment since taking over the brand?
Receiving a royal warrant as shoe manufacturer for the Queen.
What’s the last book you read?
Actress Ruby Miller’s autobiography, Champagne from my Slipper. It recounts the moment a Russian grand duke drank Champagne from her Rayne shoe in Romano’s restaurant (the Strand) in 1909.
Who in the fashion/retail industry inspires you?
Armani, for good taste, great cut and its longevity.
What is the biggest challenge facing fashion today?
It is becoming too homogenous worldwide – everywhere is the same, with the same brands and the same looks.
What one piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Working for yourself is never-ending. Think twice whether that’s what you really want, as it will become your life.
Who do you turn to when you need advice?
My long-standing mentor and shoe legend, David Spitz, and my wife, Lulu.
What would we find you doing at the weekend?
Working, mostly, and catching up on everything that I didn’t have time to do during the week. I also try to visit as many exhibitions as I can with my wife.
What are your plans for the future?
I’d love to open a flagship shop in London.
What are you looking forward to most in the year ahead?
The end of the doom and gloom precipitated by the Brexit debacle.