Q&A With Dan Sullivan 3
Last month we gave you the opportunity to ask Irregular Choice owner, Dan Sullivan ANY question and we were inundated with nearly 200 responses from fans, eager to find out the inner workings of the man behind the brand.
With topics ranging from his favourite chocolate bar, to collaboration requests, design questions to pricing; no stone has been left unturned.
We have collated all of the questions and over the next few weeks will post as many answers as possible. We hope you enjoy finding out more about us!
Q: There are a few questions about sizing and why the sizing doesn’t go up to a 42 and 43 on all of the styles.
A: The first thing I would like to say is that this is not something we do on purpose, we do not choose to ignore those with feet above a size 41. In fact, quite the reverse, we are constantly looking at how we can incorporate these sizes and reach the production minimums whilst maintaining good value for money.
As you can imagine, the more elaborate the designs are, the more expensive they are to make. Unfortunately, it is not always easy on complicated designs such as character heels. Developing the extra sizes costs thousands of pounds per size meaning that we can become uncompetitive if we add these costs to the products. Over the years we have been building our customer base in those sizes ranges and we now offer 42’s and 43’s in many more styles than before. We want to keep building this so we can extend these size runs across more styles. We take this part of the business very seriously, our analytics team look at which profiles of shoes are most likely to get demand on the larger sizes, it is a long process, but we are getting there.
I have decided to take a gamble on Spring Summer 2018 and introduced more sizes 42’s and 43’s across the collection.
Q: Will there ever be another Irregular Choice shop opened in the US?!?! (pretty please!!!) - Kari Walbert
A: The USA is definitely somewhere I would like to open another store. The question would be where?
Q: I have emailed head office asking how someone would perhaps be able to open a shop on the North. Like a franchise. I would love to know why the company doesn’t want to expand into the North? - Jen Hewitt
A: I am desperate to develop into the North of England. I kept the company quite South based to start with so we could be more hands on as we were getting to know the retail business. But we are now at a stage where we can start developing further North. We are really sorry, but we haven’t been able to track down your email. Please please send it through to us on email@example.com and we will get back to you as soon as we can xox
Q: When will you do a Doctor Who collection?? I will buy all of them!! - Siobhann Whiteford
A: Before Star Wars we tried to do a Dr Who collection, we tried everything we could at the time to get hold of the licensee people at Dr Who, but sadly we had no luck and got no response from them. It is a shame, as we really wanted to do a collection that is so iconically British. But you never know, maybe someone will see this message and knows someone we can contact. It would be a great collaboration to do, so who knows what may come in the future?
Q: Tim Burton needs to mix with Irregular Choice! - Ari Barrett
A: That would be a great collaboration!
Q: Have you considered doing a 'nightmare before Christmas' collection? - Amy Measor
A: I am embarrassed to say that this is not a movie I knew much about before working on collections with Disney. But I have seen how many people love it and would love to see us do a collaboration with them. It is definitely something I need to speak to Disney about.
Q: Will there be Disney Beauty and the Beast shoes released, as this is my favourite film and would love the shoes on my feet - Sharleen Blundell
A: Maybe ;0)
Q: Hi there, a lot of people keep asking can you do some character heels a bit lower, there are a lot of us who don't do heels but would love to buy but can't as they are awful high, please x - Tracey Smith
A: We have tried a couple of character heels at lower heights, but they have never had the same interest as the higher ones. I think it is down to the fact that people can see the character heels better when they are bigger and they have more of an impact. However, I do know this is something people want, so I have developed a character heel for AW18, which is lower than normal. I know AW18 is a long time away, but unfortunately, that is how long it takes, from the design stage to a product reaching the shelves. And I know sometimes it sounds like we aren't being reactive, but it takes time. I know it's boring to wait so long, but that's the life cycle of getting the products to store.
Q: Does Dan feel the demand for new designs has become overwhelming and whether he still enjoys coming up with new ideas and styles as much now as he did when he first started. - Eve Barker
A: Ever since the very first Irregular Choice collections I have always had what you may call a design deflation after putting everything into the collection that I had just finished. I worry about where I will get the inspiration for the next collection from and whether I can do it all again. I have learnt that rather than get down and worried about it, it is better to just ignore it, and sure enough a little while later something pops into my head, something that gets me excited that I would want to do for next season, and then off we go again.
Q: What's your favourite shoe that ISN'T irregular choice/poetic licence etc? What's your earliest shoe memory? Were you shoe obsessed as a child? - Holly Beth Herbert-Stutely
A: I don't get inspired too much, by present day shoes, but I love looking back at vintage styles. I have my favourite vintage stores that I love going to, and there are so many great designs and creative products, not just in shoes but clothing as well, which really inspire me.
I have so many memories of shoes from my childhood, but I think my earliest would be when I was very young and we were going out somewhere as a family and I had to put my shoes on but I didn't know how to tie my laces. I'll never forget my father towering over me saying "You're the son of a shoe man, I think it's time you learnt how to tie your own shoes", and he sat down next to me on the stairs and taught me how to tie my laces. I remember thinking how important it must be to be to be a 'shoe man' and how I must learn to tie my shoes. And that sense of importance has stuck with me throughout my life.
I don't think I was obsessed with shoes as a child, as they were all around me and I used to get a bit bored of them. With my parents being in the shoe industry, from before I was born, and having their own footwear brands, not too dissimilar to Irregular Choice, it was just part of life. My father started a brand called Pods in the early 70s and went on to have stores across the UK and wholesalers around the world with other brands, such as Succhi and Transport.
As with most people that have their own businesses, their work over spilt into our home life. Therefore I had shoes all around me as a kid, our house was covered in them. Not only was it a constant topic of conversation over the dinner table but I was dragged around shoe factories, shoe exhibitions, worked in my parent's shops on the Kings Road and Covent Garden etc. So my childhood is filled with memories of footwear and it was the most amazing experience. I got to be on the Kings Road when Punk was born, I got to travel at an early age across Europe, Japan, America etc. It gave me so much experience of the ever-changing world and life, that I now try to pour that all into Irregular Choice.
Q: What and where do you get your ideas from now? I understand at the beginning you designed them, however are you inspired by ideas from fans/collectors like myself? I have been collecting since 2002 and have seen many different designs. Do you listen to feedback and ideas on the Fb pages? Are you a secret fan on the pages watching our love and adoration?? When can i have your Autograph with a personal message?......agh! I tried so hard to not ask that last bit. - Clare Gribble
A: The ideas come from all over, I am always looking for inspiration and it can come from the simplest of places. I have always thought it is about the way you look at things and how lateral thinking you can be. For instance if you are holding a pencil in your hand, do you see just a pencil, or do you think 'Oh, I could do a heel in the image of a pencil?' I'm constantly looking at things and thinking about how they could be developed for shoes.
I know it is sacrilegious to say it these days, but I don't actually go on Facebook or any social media site. I have a personal Facebook account, which has been amazing in finding old friends and contacting people I haven't spoken to in a while. Even though I can see how brilliant it is, and how people have made friends from all over the world by something as great as social media, sometimes you need to have thick skin to deal with it, especially when you are putting something so Irregular out.
Back in the day I used to go onto different sites where people would comment on Irregular Choice, and I used to feel amazing when I saw lots of beautiful comments about Irregular Choice, but it would always be that one unconstructive criticism that would get to me. Logic would tell me that it was just one negative comment amongst so many good ones but I would focus on that one comment and ignore all the other beautiful comments. After a while I just thought it wasn't worth it, and I would rather step back from it.
I have a great team of people who service the difference Irregular Choice social media accounts and I am lucky enough that they filter through it all for me and only show me the fun, happy side of it. For instance just this week I was shown the most amazing Hama Bead artwork by Louise Taylor Williams, which blew me away. I also think that reading all the beautiful comments that I get told about would have me melted into a pile on the floor. At the end of the day I would much rather spend time with people and chat face to face with them.
I would love to send you a personal message, if you can email your address to firstname.lastname@example.org then I'll make sure I sort something out for you.
Q: Who would you most like to style a shoe for and why? - Laney G Briody
A: I was fortunate enough to have already been able to do this for David Bowie. He lived not far from our store in New York and somehow he heard about the brand and we got a call from his stylist. It was the most amazing experience.
Q: What shoes do you wear day to day, Dan? What is your ultimate dream creation? Do you ever see people walking in the street wearing Irregular Choice - if so how does it make you feel? What's a little known fact about you? - Roz Skinner
A: I'm a very eclectic person, whether it is music, lifestyle or footwear. I don't really associate too much with a specific era or look so I wear different kinds of shoes all the time.
As to the little known fact about me, maybe it's the Romany Gypsy in me but I am a very superstitious person, so much so that I am constantly going out of my way to avoid doing anything which may bring bad luck or negativity which can annoy people around me. I don't like umbrellas being open indoors, which I can understand can be a pain if it is a rainy day and you want to dry off your umbrella, but for me it's a no, no. My kids find it hilarious when I'm jumping out of the way of three drains and saluting a magpie whilst avoiding ladders!
Q: I would like to know if Irregular Choice were to collaborate with another shoe designer who would it be with? - Rebecca Carter
A: I would love to design a collection with a sports brand.
We don't have the structure or the technology to do our own sports shoes like Nike and Adidas do, but I would love to do a collaboration, which incorporated sports technology into our designs.
Imagine being able to wear a pair of Irregular Choice whilst going for a run or working out!
Q: I would love to buy some wedding shoes when it comes round to our day. I loved the light up Cinderella ones you had, any chance of a re-run of shoes? Or do you take any special orders? - Kayleigh Stanley
A: We have just launched some new light up shoes so hopefully these will be perfect for your wedding day.
Q:Would you ever bring back the Irregular Choice clothing range? X - Hayley Sturgeon
A: I would like to think that Irregular Choice is developing into a brand where we can develop into lots of different Irregular areas and bring Irregular fun to lots of things, including clothing. But I think it would be more like single item products rather than a specific clothing line, which is developed each season, like we have done before.
If one season we think of a great skirt to do, then we will try and develop it. If the next season we think of a great umbrella to do, then we will try and develop it. Obviously, this is an unconventional way of doing things, as it is a production control nightmare working with new and untested factories all the time in different fields. But then we are Irregular!
Q: Dan, what do you think about Star Trek Discovery? Could it do with more irregularly chosen shoes? - Andy McDowell
A: I am only up to episode 5, so not too far into it. And so far I like some of the Klingon outfits but have to say that the Starfleet outfits are as boring as ever and need some Irregularity. I realise that Starfleet officers needs to have practical clothing but they could do more with it, especially on the shoes!