Craft / August 2018

Modern Heritage: The Duke & Dexter Story

British brand Duke & Dexter is injecting new life into loafers, adding a rebellious streak to traditional notions of heritage and craftsmanship.

Duke & Dexter prides itself on its commitment to British craftsmanship.

“I didn’t mean to start a brand,” says Archie Hewlett, CEO and Founder of British footwear label Duke & Dexter, almost in the way one would admit reluctantly to eating the last biscuit or spilling something on the carpet. Unlike those misdemeanours, however, the outcomes of Archie’s inadvertency have been highly advantageous, particularly for stylish footwear fiends with a particular inclination for loafers (we’re looking at you, readers of The Rake).   

The year was 2014 and like many of his peers, the then 18-year-old Archie was uncertain of what path to take after leaving school. He entered into property recruitment, decided it wasn’t for him, and resolved to do something completely different, but never could have imagined a future in footwear.

“I left property recruitment without knowing exactly what I was going to do, but I knew that I wanted to do something with a purpose and that had meaning… Escaping the corporate world was inevitable,” he tells me. Looking only to earn some money as he waited to reach a decision, Archie launched an online business centered on providing a cheaper and more contemporary version of the velvet slipper. The idea was meant purely to bring in revenue. “I certainly didn’t know much about fashion and it’d be lying to say I had a real interest in it,” he admits. Experience and interest aside, the drive and determination was certainly there and within five months, he was selling to five countries. Surprised as he was, it wasn’t long before he saw real potential in what was taking shape. Duke & Dexter was soon born and the brand’s success – however unintentional – was almost immediate.

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Aobh O'Brien-Moody

Editorial Assistant at The Rake