Monday, 30 July 2012

UK Summer 2012

Well this year we had the perfect set up for a wet summer the Jubilee and Olympics, and boy did it deliver. June was the wettest and coolest on record and up until last week July was following suit well.  So with this summers weather which almost changes on an hourly basis some days what shoes do you wear!?!

This morning for instance when I woke up it was a lovely morning so I put my Fitflops on and toddled off to work, a decision I am now regretting, the sky is now grey and gloomy and the temperature has dropped, my toes are freezing :(  So how do we get round this changeable weather?

Option 1 - Not the easiest option it depends on what you are doing.  2 pairs of shoes, 1 pair of sandals and another pair of warmer shoes - trainers/boots etc.. You keep 1 pair at work and the opposite type go on your feet.  For instance on a day like today I would have worn my FitFlops this morning while the weather was nice and then had a warmer pair of shoes change into when it cooled down.  Of course this only works if the right shoes are in the right place at the right time, if it's been warm in the afternoon and you've worn your sandals home and then the next morning it's cold your warm shoes would still be at work.  So perhaps not the ideal solution unless you have loads of shoes.

Merrells Toe Post Lilac Sandal in Scarlet

Option 2 - Trainers.  Sort of an in between, unfortunately if it's really cold outside they don't keep your feet very warm, and if it's warm you tend to get really hot feet.  Brands like DC and Etnies offer good ventilation which helps for the warmer weather but not so great when its chilly.  However if it is raining you definitely get more protection than in a pair of sandals. 

DC Net in Black and Orange

Option 3 - A very popular option this summer is canvas.  Converse, Vans, Dudes and Etnies Jameson Eco's have all been fantastic.  With a canvas shoe your feet are still getting good breathability when the weathers warm and although they won't keep your feet warm when its cool people don't seem to care.  I suppose even though they are canvas they still keep you warmer than a pair of sandals.  However they are not great for rain, after all it's a textile your feet get soaked in no time.

A durable canvas Star Player trainer from Converse

Option 4 - Walking shoes, whilst in summer there are always a fair amount of walking shoes sold this year it has been higher, I think because they are breathable and still warm most importantly they are waterproof.  Merrell have been our most popular with Timberland and The North Face following close behind, all of these brands have fantastic reputations for quality and wear and whilst they are more expensive than your average sandal these shoes can be worn all year round.

A Gore-Tex Intercept from Merrell

Option 5 - An option that many women have taken this year, just carry on wearing your winter boots.  This year I have noticed that so many people just haven't moved from their winter boots into the more summery shoes.  I for one swap between my lovely warm sheepskin Emus and my Fitflops depending on the weather and I think alot of other people are doing the same.  Obviously last week when it was absolutely lovely and what Summer should be like the sandals were all out but already today I have seen loads of winter boots from the Emu/Ugg styles to full waterproof, insulated Merrells and Timberlands.

Merrell Winter/Summer 2012 Boots

Of course there are many more options for footwear, wellies, deck shoes, Crocs and many more.  I guess the best we can do is take each day as it comes this year and do the best we can footwear wise :)

Monday, 23 July 2012

The School Bag

A necessary for any school age child.  The perfect school bag has to be cool, fit in with the others and yet still stand out enough.  From the parents point of view it needs to last, fit everything in and manage to take the strain of all the books, PE kit and other items that they have to take with them on a daily basis, without putting to much strain on the kids.  Last years must have bags were the Paul Frank and Gola satchels in the retro style that all parents remember from when they were at school. 

Although that trend still continues the backpack is making a comeback, this year DC have delivered the Bourne backpack, simple in style with loads of space and padded back straps to protect young shoulders, the large stitched DC logo on the front that makes it stand out but not to much and of course it's DC, one of the coolest brands around so a safe bet at school.

Paul Frank continue to be popular with their cheeky monkey letting everyone know it's from Paul Frank in an instant.  A satchel style it does mean the weight from the bag isn't distributed on both shoulders like a backpack which is a slight disadvantage and they do have slightly less space than the standard backpack although you can still fit an A4 folder in them, and they are so lush.

The answer to a satchel not being able to evenly distribute the weight of the bag evenly.....the Paul Frank Backpack.  Still featuring the Paul Frank Monkey so it's easily recognised they come in fabulous patterns including grey and pink leopard print....totally awesome!!!

The Gola Tado Redford Seymour bag in Purple was last years must have back to school bag and still remains one of the most popular Gola bags.  Again a satchel style so you do end up with the weight of the bag on just one shoulder but they look so fab.  The big 'Seymour' eyes really stand out but at the same time aren't to overbearing.  Of course Gola don't just make the Seymour, the Redford comes in hundreds of colours and designs, everything from retro plain colours, to countries flags and even some to celebrate the Olympic Games.  This year Gola have also introduced the Supersize version which gives you even more space for all your school things.


I have only recently heard of Half Moon Bay and I wish I'd heard of them earlier, they are so unique.  With a huge range of designs these satchels really stand out, you just couldn't miss the Rolling Stones tongue walking down the street could you? The Half Moon Bay Bags are either made from a faux leather or durable canvas, unfortunately all my favourite designs come in the canvas version which perhaps isn't the most practical for school during the winter months but they look so cool, the ultimate in retro.

 Iron Fist are generally known for they're unique quirkiness on clothing and shoes however they do also make a wide variety of bags and handbags.  The Iron Fist Backpacks are huge and will fit so much stuff in them, they have a massive main compartment, large front compartment and then 2 side pockets as well, made from a textile they are durable although not waterproof.  The printed outers do give them an amount of water resistance though and certainly stand out in a good way.

These are just a few of my favourite back to school choices for bags but there are so many out there to choose from how do you know your going to get the right one.  When I was at school my dad went on a business trip to Australia and brought me and my brothers back some leather old style satchels with the big fold over top and buckles to hold them down, bless him he thought they were the best thing since sliced bread and to be fair they did last for years or rather, unfortunately they lasted for years no matter how much we tried, in fact I think I may still have mine somewhere :(  I hated that bag and I think when it comes to buying the all important back to school bag the best thing you can do is let the child choose for themselves (within reason of course).

Monday, 16 July 2012

Top Holiday Shoes

With this lovely summer we're having this year loads of people seem to be making a run for the sun and booking last minute holidays, so we thought we'd do a run down of our Top favourite holiday shoes.

1. Crocs

Scooby Doo II Crocs

A total marmite shoe - you either love them or hate them.  You can't deny though how light they are so take up next to no weight in your luggage and they are perfect for the beach and poolside.  Yes the classic caymans are perhaps not the most fashionable style but Crocs now have a HUGE range, everything from flipflops to shoes and boots.  There must be something for everyone, even if it is only to wear whilst your on holiday.  And Crocs are a huge hit with the kids as well, with the clog design they can get them on and off themselves (so you don't have to do it for them everytime), they float so if they do come off whilst they're in the water they're dead easy to grab hold of, they're machine washable, wipe-able etc and they come in soooo many cool designs my fave for this years kids has got to be Scooby Doo, for the girls there's Hello Kitty and for what us adults would call a retro look but is totally fashionable for the kids at the moment is the Lego design.

2. Hey Dude

Dude Wally

Hey Dude flew into and straight back out of our store for the first time last summer and even with this appalling weather this year they don't stay around for long.  They are fab!!! Super light, super comfy canvas shoes that are machine washable and come in both slip on and lace up styles, they feel like slippers when on and squish really well so will take up next to no room in your suitcase.  Dude's only down side is some of their style names can be a bit dubious although often provoke conversation and a few laughs.  The classic slip on style is known as Farty whilst the Deck style released this year is named Wally, the womens styles do have the much better names of Moka (for the deck style) and Lady (for the slip on style).  Never the less fantastic casual holiday shoes!

3. FitFlop

FitFlop Lolla

Yes it's FitFlop again, I think they have now featured in at least the last 3 posts, are you getting the impression I like them alot :)  OK so at the risk of repeating myself they are seriously comfy, come in soooo many stunning designs as well as your basics to go with everything in your wardrobe.  The wobbleboard sole does make them slightly heavier than some sandals but what you gain in weight you also gain in all day comfort and with some designs like the Rokkit all night wear as well.  There aren't many shoes you can put on in the morning and not take off until the wee hours of the next morning and still be comfortable.

4. Earth Spirit

Earth Spirit Dallas

This styling has been copied far and wide this year, I believe because they are so comfortable, and so popular everyone wants a piece of the pie.  Only introduced into the UK 4 years ago we are now the second largest market for Earth Spirit with only the US in front of us.  Earth Sprirt specialise in comfort and use a Gelron 2000 insole on every shoe for serious underfoot comfort and shock absorption.  All the uppers are made from soft calf or suede leather and look and feel fantastic.  They come in all sorts of designs, everything from your basic plain toe posts and multi way straps to the more 'pretty' floral and beaded designs.  Heavier than the Crocs and Hey Dude (although I don't think there is many shoes that would come in under the weight of those brands) they will take up more room in your bag but they really are worth it!!!

5. Converse

Batman Converse

Converse are still as popular as they have ever been, if anything they are more popular than ever.  With the classic styles of the Allstar Hi Basketball boot and Allstar Oxford the range has really expanded from the core colours of Navy, Red and Black with a collaboration with DC Comics bringing Superman, Batman and the Joker onto the boots and some fab new girly colours as well.  Converse are one of the slightly heavier shoes so will weigh your luggage down more than the superlight Dudes and Crocs but they are also so versatile.  Worn in any weather, yes I know they are canvas but none the less people do wear them in all weathers, they are the perfect shoe for any holiday.

6. Hunter
Hunter Wellys
 Finally with the lovely weather I think Hunter welly boots have to be on this list.  If you are holidaying in this country this year these are going to be a must.  The classic welly boot Hunters now come in a huge variety of styles and colours, there is something for everybody.

Monday, 9 July 2012

MBT are in administration!!!!

MBT announced administration on 17th May this year after their parent company Masai Marketing & Trading AG filed for bankruptcy at the beginning of the month.  After appointing administrators Chris Laughton and Peter Godfrey-Evans of Mercer & Hole they announced that their administration coincided with a 4 week summer sale which should hopefully boost their sales (sorry guys I'm a bit behind and the sale has now ended), so far their website still states they are in administration and there has been no mention of a buyer for the company, 2 stores have been closed, 1 in Guilford and 1 in Tunbridge Wells however they say at the moment no more are planned for closing.  So what if MBT can't find a buyer!?! where do you go then for your fitness shoes, well with a small amount of research I have come up with some other fabulous alternatives.

1. Aetrex
Aetrex Bodyworks Mary Jane in Black

Fairly new to the UK market Aetrex were founded in 1946 with a mission to create the healthiest shoes on the market, they were originally known for the development of arch supports and medically orientated footcare.  They currently employ over 200 people at their Head Office in New Jersey, including fitness experts, designers, podiatrists and Certified Pedorthists to ensure Aetrex remain at the top of the medical based fitness market.  As well as making reasonably priced over the counter orthotics Aetrex make the 'Bodyworks' Range, Aetrex Bodyworks have been designed to help tone the lower body and promote proper body alignment and healthy midfoot walking.  Bodyworks have a double rocker sole which gives pressure distribution and stimulates the lower body whilst the perfectly positioned fulcrum point (in the middle of the sole) makes your foot have a natural roll whilst walking.  On top of all this they also have a moisture wicking lining and the icing on the cake a 'Mozaic Performance Insole'.  Aetrex specialise in the Mosaic insole, all you need to do is visit your local stockists who scan your feet on the Aetrex machine.  Once you have been scanned the machine works out where YOUR pressure points are on YOUR feet and tells the sales assistant which pieces of the Mosaic need to be removed.  The Mosaic means that these shoes are completely customised to you and your feet.  Fantastic!!!  So what's the difference between these and MBT who claim that other companies designs are cheaper, lesser quality and fake?? Well.....MBT were founded in 1996, Aetrex were founded in 1946, I'd say Aetrex have the edge of 50 years on the research and professionals in their arsenal.  Also as a previous wearer of MBT's myself and a relativity new wearer of Aetrex (about 3 months..ish) I have to say Aetrex are lighter, more stable (I did find that MBT can be too unstable sometimes) cheaper with no lack of quality and I still get the same benefits for my poor knee which the reason I first purchased MBT.

2. Skechers

Skechers Shape Up Sleek Fit Black

Skechers was founded in 1990 by a father and son duo in California.  Originally Skechers products were mainly utility style boots and skate shoes, however the range soon diversified into just about every type of shoe you could think of.  In more recent years they developed the Shape Up (which is pretty much their version of the MBT), Tone Ups (their version of FitFlops) and the Go ranges.  The Skechers Shape Up as previously mentioned is pretty much a copy of the MBT shoes and works with the same principles however I found their sole to be much squishier and unstable, almost to unstable for me and it squelches really loudly when they get wet wearing them in the rain, which is quite annoying.  So the original promises for a Shape Up were - they will improve posture, improve blood circulation, improve back strength, tighten abdominal muscles, tones and firms buttocks, tones and firms thigh areas, firms calf muscles, reduces knee joint stress.  I will agree that whilst wearing Shape Ups my legs certainly did tire quicker and there was a reduced impact on my knee joints however I personally have seen no toning benefits.  Unfortunately this year Skechers have agreed to settle a class action lawsuit in the US for $40 million due to an FTC complaint that they had mislead their customers with their Shape Ups ads :( Whilst I personally believe in Skechers as a brand and I love most of their shoes for me the Shape Ups just weren't up to the same standard as some of their competitors.

3. FitFlop
Rokkit Cosmic Purple....LUSHNESS!!

I LOVE FitFlop!!!! They are my favorite brand at the moment and I pretty much wear them solidly, literally I put them on when I get up and don't take them off till I'm going to bed.  As with other fitness brands FitFlop claim to activate bottom muscle activation by up to 30%, Increase hamstring muscle activation by up to 16%, reduce knee joint stress by up to 20%, reduce hip joint stress by up to 8% and reduce ankle joint force by up to 11%.  FitFlop have engineered their sole to have a Microwobbleboard, it is designed with 3 different densitys through the sole, the heel is high density to absorb shock in the lower legs and help relieve joint stress, the midsection is low density to create an instability to increase lower leg muscle activation and the toe is mid density to maintain speed and pace and increase stability.  OK so I have worn these ALOT pretty much daily for about 2 and half years, FitFlop flipflops in summer and boots in winter, I do wear my other trainer brands occasionally now but no where near as much as I used to, generally only when it's to hot for boots but to wet for flip flops.  Whilst they are the comfiest brand I own and one of the few that I can work in the shop, on my feet, for a full 9 hours and my feet and knee don't hurt by the end of it they do not really tone anything, I mean the amount of time I spend in these and other fitness brands I should have a models body by now surely :)  But I stand by my first comment, I LOVE FitFlop and they are seriously comfortable, I mean really, really comfortable and it does feel weird to wear anything else nowadays :)

So although MBT are in administration and as yet still have no buyer there are alternatives out there, each brand will always think they are the only ones that provide the best option but I think in the wider scheme of things they are all giving the same sort of option it just comes down to who the customer prefer.  Either shopping for our favourite brand or just by style and comfort, so as a famous man (Bob Marley) said 'don't worry, be happy' :)

Monday, 2 July 2012


Well with all the events going on this summer are we all really surprised that the weather so far has been pants!?!  From the beginning of the year people were saying we had the perfect storm for a wash out summer (Jubilee, Wimbledon, Olympics and the a hosepipe ban) and apart from a few odd weeks they seem to have been right.  However in typical British tradition we don't let a bit (in some cases alot) of rain ruin it and we carry on regardless :)

So with the Jubilee all over and done with, and both Wimbledon and the Olympics just around the corner I thought it was about time for a bit of a history lesson, and today's lesson is..................Wimbledon.

So first off the basics, the first Wimbledon was held in 1877 by 'The All England Club' which was only itself founded in 1968.  A private club, it was originally known as 'The All England Croquet Club' and it wasn't until spring 1877 that they renamed it 'The All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club'.  Within 5 years the clubs activity was almost exclusively lawn tennis and in 1882 'croquet' was dropped from the clubs title, not for long though, in 1899 they restored the word croquet to the clubs title once more for sentimental reasons.

'The All England Club' added lawn tennis to their activities in 1876, a game that was originally thought up by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield (what a mouthful) about a year before and was originally called 'Sphairistrike'  which I must say I am very glad they changed the name, imagine trying to say that every time you were talking about tennis.  1876 saw the name change to the much more sensible lawn tennis and the introduction of a new standardised code of laws which replaced the old laws previously administrated by the Marylebone Cricket Club.  The first tournament was held on 4 acres of land that the 'All England Club' rented between Worple Road and the railway tracks of the London and South Western Railway, the recorded attendance for the first ever 'Wimbledon Final' was a measly 200 with seats for only 30 people on a temporary 3 plank stand.  There was only 22 entrants to the competition all men as women were not allowed to enter until 1884.

Wimbledon is known for it's very strict dress code for players, who are only allowed to wear the traditional white whilst on the court, on more than one occasion over the many years a player has not been allowed on court until they have changed into 'suitable attire'.  The all white rule and controversial marketing strategy that courtside sponsorship is not permitted means that all the sponsors of the big tennis names must keep all they're branding to an unobtrusive and rather measly 3 inches square or less.  For some brands like Adidas and Nike shrinking their logo whilst still standing out isn't to bad, other not so well known brands struggle to be recognised.  Even off of the court branding and sponsorship is limited to a certain few.  Wimbledon is extremely sponsor aware and ensures that only the few brands that have been chosen to sponsor the event are shown, this means if you show up to Wimbledon with food or drink it will be taken off of you, if you are wearing large branding on your clothing you will be asked to change.  The reasoning for this is that they believe it is not right for companies that have not paid for the privilege to advertise at Wimbledon to potentially get TV coverage to push their brand.  I can kind of see their point it's not very fair if you've paid huge sums of money to be one of the privileged few advertisers and then people in the stands are using everyone else brands.  As such the only brands you can buy inside Wimbledon is those that are official sponsors.   For 2012 Wimbledon are working with the integrated marketing agency 'Space' to create a Wimbledon Village on the golf course next to the infamous Wimbledon Queue, this will open up an amount of sponsorship to other brands.

Whilst I have tried my best to find some juicy scandal on Wimbledon to liven this article up a bit it's actually a very clean and gentlemanly sport, the best I have managed to track down is possible match fixings but they were never proven, a possible bout of food poisoning in the players lounge..again never proven and I got really excited by the headline 'Murder Off the Grass Court' but it actually turned out to be fairly mundane, a retired tennis player was arrested and charged with murder back in the early 1900's, he died in jail a year later.  So whilst the rain continues to pour (thank goodness they put the new roof on) I'm sure there will be many of us inside watching this years tournament possibly partaking of our own champers and strawberries (I cannot believe I forgot to write that earlier, it has to be one of the most well known Wimbledon traditions) hopefully at a cheaper price than at Wimbledon itself  :)