Less than three years ago Archie Hewlett was amongst the tens of thousands of teenagers waiting for their A level results. He had an offer of a place at Durham University to study psychology, but as the initial euphoria of his excellent grades subsided, Archie began to realise he didn’t have a clear goal. There was some expectation on him and his parents were initially disappointed, but Archie decided not to go to Durham and took some time out to go travelling and think about his future.
A while later Archie was looking for a pair of shoes suitable for an evening event he was attending and not wanting to wear brogues struggled to find anything suitable at a reasonable price. He had very little experience of fashion, but Archie did a lot of research and the first pair of Duke and Dexter slip-on shoes were made. Encouraged by the positive feedback and with a loan from his parents, Archie did a lot of research, sourced suppliers and found a manufacturer in Italy.
Archie says he’s used a lot of guesswork, done a lot of haggling and approached lots of people and sometimes they’ve responded helpfully. The slip-on shoes ‘sold themselves’ with friends and family happy to wear them and admirers encouraged to make a purchase when offered a discount code.
Duke and Dexter now turns over a seven-figure sum, sell in 85 countries and their shoes are seen on the feet of celebrity clients such as Poppy Delevingne, Tinie Tempah and actor Eddie Redmayne who wore a pair to collect his Oscar.