Fashioning a new career
Ever felt like packing it all in? We talk to a man who quit his job and put heart and sole into a new life...
Shoe designer Rupert Sanderson can now count Freida Pinto, Carey Mulligan and Gwyneth Paltrow among his fans. But the English designer actually started out in advertising before packing in a ‘disastrous’ career to start over. Not only did he go back to college, he spent time biking round Italy to learn more about the business. Chris Fraser caught up with Rupert to learn a little more...
That’s a big career change - why did you choose to move into shoe design?
I’m interested in the craft and construction in shoe design - similar to architecture - another great interest of mine.
Looking back, were there any signs that this is what you would get into?
No, absolutely nothing if I’m honest! Apart from an interest in making things. I realised pretty early on [that advertising was not for me]. My creativity was thwarted - the craft of actually making something was very limited.
Did you ever have any doubts, second thoughts or financial fears?
All of the above. My family and friends said: “He’s gone mad! Hooray!”
What is your family background? Are they a creative lot?
Not obviously, no. My father was an officer in the British Army but there are some tailors and sculptors in the family.
When did you travel to Italy and where did you go?
I first travelled to Italy in 2000 and spent my time in Bologna. It was a real eye-opener into another culture, another way of life completely. Bologna definitely has a great sense of itself.
Tell us about work experience...
I first worked for Bruno Magli and then Sergio Rossi, designing, designing and designing. Working with these original shoe-making families stood me in great stead with the close-knit Italian shoe-making community.
Did any of the working practices or lifestyle choices surprise you?
In Italy, the hours weren’t too bad. You feel that life is appreciated much more over there [than in England]. It’s great.
How easy is it to turn designs into finished articles – is there a lot of trial and error involved?
With any creative processes there are false starts and tough decisions. I own a factory south of Bologna in Tredozio, we find it quite easy to produce large sample collections four times a year. The hard part is editing them down. Trial and error plays a part.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
A little bit of everything - sometimes it’s my travels, sometimes a band from the 70s I’ve been listening to, often a film through to women themselves and the way they are dressing currently. London is a great city for inspiration - there’s always so much to see, be it theatre or exhibitions, or simply walking. All these things are fused through alchemy and the collections are produced.
I’ve just finished sampling for Resort 2013 and I’m working on Spring/Summer 13 - these will be in stores early 2013 so we basically work five to six months in advance. Look out for a collaborative piece of work I’m doing with London artist Margot Bowman - all will be revealed on September 13 on www.rupertsanderson.com