Craft / September 2016

United We Stand: George Cleverley X Nigold by United Arrows

The great Andy Warhol once said: “One’s company, two’s a crowd and three’s a party.” So when a collaboration between not only two great brands, but three, comes together –…

I’m sure that you will be well aware of George Cleverley, the luxury British shoemaker famed for its iconic toe shapes, timeless lasts and unique styles. For autumn/winter ‘16 and spring/summer ‘17, the house has collaborated with two iconic Japanese designers whose brands operate at both ends of the menswear spectrum. Both are loyal customers of Cleverley and they have their own joint label, Nigold by United Arrows, which mixes street culture influences with formal tailoring.

Nigold is the brainchild of streetwear legend of Tomoaki Nagao, otherwise known as Nigo, famed for being the ex-owner of the incredibly successful and popular streetwear label A Bathing Ape (Bape). A loyal bespoke client of Cleverley for over 10 years, Nigo has brought to the table his experience with the contemporary and streetwear aesthetic. United Arrows & Sons is a Japanese concept store and contemporary dressmakers whose creative director, Motofumi Kogi, otherwise known as Poggy, has injected his own unique sartorial signatures into what a traditional George Cleverley English dress shoe should look like. It’s also the first of its kind in the formal luxury world.

“This all came around very organically. We aren't trying to switch over and become a casual shoemaker, that's not what we are trying to do,” says George Glasgow Jr, CEO of George Cleverley. What Cleverley is in fact trying to do, is to cater to those rakish individuals who are after a more casual and contemporary dress shoe, an undeniably a wise move, as the world continues to become more and more casual. But, to return to Glasgow’s comment about this collaboration being organic, the provenance of the whole project, was, as he puts it: “Fate. It had to happen.”

Earlier this year Glasgow and Poggy were in Soho House in Malibu having a “few” glasses of wine. All of a sudden and by pure coincidence, Rocky Balboa, aka Slyvester Stallone walked in wearing a pair of bespoke George Cleverley Chelsea boots in alligator skin with a rubber sole. Stallone is an ardent fan of Cleverley bespoke, and regularly has shoes made, updated and altered. To cut a long story short, Glasgow, Poggy and Stallone started talking about Cleverley bespoke and it lead to the remark from the Hollywood behemoth; “you should do something together!”

They started to draw up designs then and there on the spot. The inspiration was Soho House’s ever-stylish patrons. “In Los Angeles you don't see too many people wearing a suit, but everyone still wears dress shoes. What they are doing in the evening is wearing chukka boots with a rubber sole or alligator boots with an elastic side, again with craic rubber soles or micro rubber soles to make it more casual,” says Glasgow Jr. Poggy, realising the potential of this shift in luxury footwear, suggested bringing in his great friend Nigo.

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Benedict Browne

Benedict is The Rake's Associate Style Editor.