The creative director of Hudson tells Marie Davies how the contemporary footwear brand is embracing fast fashion.
Hudson is celebrating its 20th anniversary and this month launches a transactional website - what can the customer expect to see online?
It will be about giving customers as much information as possible, making it distinctive. We will offer exclusive product through unique colouring and have editorial features such as designers picking their favourite styles, street shots of customers wearing Hudson and a blog. It will be easy to navigate between different styles, while our campaign shots, which we couldn’t previously accommodate on the site, will strengthen the brand’s message.
Why had the website not been transactional earlier?
There had been the worry that as a wholesale brand we would upset our stockists by becoming transactional, but I think now we cannot avoid it. We now have the right infrastructure in place internally to provide a good service - we didn’t want to do it if it wasn’t right.
We are working on making it a different experience by giving customers a reason to shop. We don’t have a store as yet so this is our direct communication with our end customer.
You’ve been working at Hudson for 16 years. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen?
Everything is faster and more competent. In terms of product there is a lot more competition out there. Many retailers that used to always buy from wholesalers such as ourselves have now taken aspects of design in-house and have subsidiary [own] brands. There has to be more of a reason to buy from us.
So how have you dealt with this?
Starting [Hudson diffusion line] H by Hudson meant we could compete at a fast-fashion level at a lower price. It has changed Hudson for the better and we’ve attracted a younger customer with it. In addition, our women’s footwear offer which started in 2004
was driven by us noticing that the androgynous look for women was going to come back in a big way and [our brand ethos] fitted that trend perfectly.
What new products are you working on for autumn 11?
We are making [the collections] a little bit cleaner and less vintage. Men’s silhouettes are heavier with chunkier soles and, while the washed look is still important, we’re polishing it up a bit more. We’re working on a hobnail boot and an update of the moccasins that are doing well across men’s and women’s footwear.
Will sheepskin continue to be key in footwear for autumn 11?
I think people will still expect it but I feel we’ll see the return of fabrics [as well]. We’re introducing tweeds into shoes and I think one of the biggest trends will be mixing materials; for example we’re mixing a scotch green fabric with a high-shine leather. It may not replace sheepskin but I think the half-and-half shoe will come through in a big way. The golfing shoe inspiration with its two-tone effect will run across men’s and women’s footwear for Hudson.
What is your favourite Hudson style?
I love the Garrett women’s hiking boot we did for autumn 10.
Which celebrity best sums up Hudson?
Steve McQueen for men and Alexa Chung for women.
What was the last item you bought?
A grey cropped blazer and black maxi dress from Cos. I’m trying to get out of skinny jeans.
Where is your favourite place to shop in the UK?
Alfies Antiques Market in Marylebone, London, is amazing. I could quite easily spend a whole day in there.
Vicky Haddon is creative director of contemporary footwear brand Hudson