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Hemingway Design for Hush Puppies

A famous design name is putting bite back into the brand’s iconic brothel creepers and desert boots.

When we heard Hush Puppies, the footwear brand established in 1958, was releasing its first premium men’s range for autumn 12, our interest was piqued. Then when we found out it was being created by father-and-son design team Wayne and Jack Hemingway of Hemingway Design, we were more intrigued. Then we saw the shoes.

Inspired by Hush Puppies’ role in youth culture movements through the decades, the brand’s iconic designs are the basis of the eight-piece collection: the traditional teddy boy’s brothel creeper, the mod’s classic desert and Chelsea boots, the casual’s loafer.

But what caught our eye is that these classic styles have been given a new Hemingway twist; they work the trend for all things heritage but are truly contemporary interpretations. Take the use of neutral suedes punched with pops of bright colour and contrast stitching, the chunky bespoke EVA and crêpe-style soles, or unexpected details such as a wedge-soled loafer topped with a wooden toggle fastening (the favourite of both the Hemingways and Drapers).

“Hush Puppies is an iconic brand that is a sleeping giant, or maybe a sleeping bassett hound,” jokes Wayne, who is best known for creating the Red or Dead label with his wife, Gerardine. “Great design is great design. Some styles are timeless and if something is so brilliantly conceived and relevant, then a new generation is bound to enjoy it as much as previous generations,” he says.

According to Simon Mabey, sales director of Hush Puppies, the collection will be stocked in a limited number of indies, targeting “aspirational trend-led retailers who understand heritage and fashion and share it with consumers in a unique way”. Says Jack: “Places like B Store, The Goodhood Store and Oi Polloi are personal favourites, but I’d be most happy if in 20 years’ time I discover a pair on the shoe rail of a vintage store.”

There has already been lots of attention from buyers, with the likes of Jake Bancroft, menswear buyer at York indie Sarah Coggles, showing interest. “I really like the lettering sole units and I’m impressed by the quality of the suede across the collection,” says Bancroft. “The pricing is bang on and Hemingway Design for Hush Puppies sounds premium – the key independent menswear retailers will be all over this.”

Wholesale prices range from £53.17 to £60.40, with the first deliveries set to arrive in stores in early September, while work has already started on next season’s collection. “Watch this space,” teases Jack. “The long-term goal is to re-establish the Hush Puppies brand as a credible footwear choice for the style-conscious. Hopefully we’ll sell a load of shoes too!”

And ladies, don’t be too jealous – we can also exclusively reveal there will be a women’s collection for spring 13. This is certainly one brand we won’t be keeping hush hush. 

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