On 19th April 1997 the doors of the Kings Road headquarters of Tim Little were opened and the store began selling Tim's first range of shoes. Now, a good few years on, a lot has happened and many people, famous, infamous and otherwise have come by, bought shoes and spent time discussing the ways of the world with store manager Howard. Last Friday was the first time that I had ventured to this wonderful store. Shame on me. I took the dizzy inducing tube ride to Fulham Broadway on the pretense of learning more about Grenson's AW10 collection but my eyes were opened to Tim Little's own line. For those of you who don't know, in addition to designing his own eponymous label, Tim Little is Creative Director at Grenson and has been since 2004. After an enjoyable natter about one of England's master shoemakers over a cup of tea I declared that I had to return to the Tim Little store armed with my camera. This morning I did just that and I'm excited to share what I found...
Having sold their shoes in many of the world's famous stores, from Japan to America and back, they like to keep it extremely selective and special. They believe that they are the best people to sell their shoes and having stepped inside and spoken with the team it is easy to why. The oft quoted Max Amsterdam sentence, "Business is the art of extracting money from another man's pocket without resorting to violence" is displayed on the shop window. I'm quite Sure Tim Little and his team have little difficulty in extracting money from other chaps pockets in a non violent manner. They are masters of business through championing the art of offering extremely well made products in a friendly and knowledgeable environment. I certainly found it difficult to walk away empty handed.
The store is split in to three collections; Blue Sole, Black Sole and Italian but each model is named after a well known Blues song. 'Blue Sole' is the original line and got the label to the position they are today. Beautifully made, the leathers are French calf, full grain leathers from some of the the best tanneries in the world. They are, of course, Goodyear Welted, which means they will last a long, long time and are easy to repair when necessary. The 'Black Sole' range is left to rest on the last for at least thirty days to allow the leather to adopt the perfect shape of the last and hold that shape over many years to come. Last but not least is the 'Italian Collection' which includes sneakers with a difference, boat shoes, driving shoes and wonderfully washed boots. Below are a few highlights from each...
One of my favourite shoe line ups in the store. The Red Rooster (centre left) is beautifully simple. This is an old favourite of Tim's, the whole cut on a round toe. The simplest things are often the hardest things to do.
I particularly love the bumblebee brogue and I believe this to be the boot model. Made from burnished calf, with a double sole with rubber bottom, this shoe should be in your wardrobe for many years and brought out whenever you feel like taking on the world.
Worry Worry. Sneakers are classics now too. This is Tim Little's, made in Italy of the softest calf, it is simple and iconic.
A few variations of This Is Hip. These are trainers for people who enjoy quality shoes. The leather is burnished calf that is washed in drums to give a real lived in look. As with all of our Italian shoes, they are hand made in Tuscany just outside Florence.
A few highlights from the Italian collection. On the surface the boat shoes looks pretty classic, but up close you realise that each one is hand made in Italy using the finest materials.
In addition to offering well made ready to wear shoes, Tim Little offers a full bespoke service. After an initial consultation and a few measurements taken, shoe styles are discussed and a personal last made before the bespoke shoes are crafted to the client's individual specifications. The whole process takes twelve weeks for the first pair and eight weeks for subsequent pairs.
I find it difficult to resist the perfect aroma of well made shoes and to be in a room stocked full of them was torturous. I had to summon a great deal of inner strength to walk away from the store without giving in to my wanton consumerist desires. Something tells me that I'll be venturing down to the King's Road sooner rather than later and my resolve might just weaken. In the meantime, I just had to let you know about this store. I feel a complete fool for not knowing about it sooner.
Tim Little makes the trip south well worth it.