Oh how far we’ve come since you could simply weld your initials into a piece of iron and accurately claim to have created your own brand. In this age of increasingly brand aware consumers, simply producing a great product is just not enough. In order to woo the kind of discerning luxury audience that we’re used to dealing with here at WatchAnish, you have to provide something far more complete. You can’t just sell a car or a pair of sunglasses, you have to sell a holistic experience. You have to provide a lifestyle insight. Every element of your outward manifestation has to be carefully selected with nods to a myriad of different facets of modern consumerism. And you have to mean it. You have to be sincere, because the kind of people that spend money on luxury are not idiots, otherwise they wouldn’t have the necessary cash in the first place.
The Bond Villain of luxury slippers
These considerations have to be made long before the first hand-stitched attache case, or perpetual calendar, or personalised velvet dress slipper leaves your atelier. Easy if you have 200 years of venerated history behind you, but what of the visionaries of today looking to cement a place in the affections of stylish and quality savvy shoppers?
We spoke to Nigel Siwani, founder and creative director of Mount Street Shoe Company on the very inception of his brand, for a series of articles we will be running on the nature of building brands across different products in the luxury market. Nigel specialises in bringing an exquisite level of personalised detail to some of the highest quality footwear out there on the market. He can put his mark, and most importantly your mark, on a spectrum of different footwear, but is perhaps gaining most renown as the go to guy for dress slippers. We love his work so much that we have collaborated with him on a range of velvet slippers embroidered to match your watch dial. Despite being a busy man, he was kind enough to answer a few of our questions:
What’s your professional background that you felt suitably equipped to set up your own luxury brand?
My background is in high end real estate, and I learnt from that incredibly competitive market that the only way to stand out and succeed was to do things differently and with integrity. As a consumer I always took great interest in brands, especially those that appealed to me and those that I aspired too. I wanted to do something creative, with meaning and purpose, not only to satisfy me, but that would also be held in high regard one day by like minded people. In everything I have done, I always think from the customers point of view, and then add my own high expectations on how to excel and deliver something unique.
Ultimately you are remembered by your actions and what you create, I created my brand with a long term view knowing that brands like Ralph Lauren, for example, weren’t built in a day. To create and constantly develop a true luxury brand takes time and my vision to start a shoe brand has been realised, and now I will develop my vision further in time.
What moment was the nucleus of the idea, and how much has this initial thought evolved into what the Mount Street Shoe Company became?
For decades I had a creative streak just waiting for the right opportunity to be released. The thought of creating a shoe company was with me only in my subconscious until personal events made me think differently about the direction of my life. I spent time collating my thoughts and ideas until a spark set alight my dream and I realised Mount Street Shoe Company, true to my vision. That moment remains very clear in my memory, I named the brand for the exact location where the idea to actually take the step forward and start was conceived. Luckily its Mayfair credentials are rather fitting to brand. I’m glad I wasn’t sat in traffic on the M25!
Was this progression of ideas the result of research into the market, or was it more a product of how you wanted to express yourself?
Mount Street Shoe Company was created to reflect the individual nature of every customer looking for something they cannot buy off the shelf. Simply creating just another shoe label is not a business opportunity for me, I instinctively went with my heart and created a brand that I would buy for myself, thinking at every step how to ensure a luxury product and unrivalled service. I specifically made it a point to have my email and telephone number as the main contact for customers. Regardless of how large the business may become, I want customers to have direct contact with me, it is only then I can provide a personal service, and that is something I always valued myself and hope others do also.
My slipper collection reflects everything that I am passionate about and interested in. Things like the range of watch dials, sports car inspired dials, and the ability to create beautiful semi bespoke slippers from designer silks and other suitable materials that are unique and fun.
My idea of luxury is to have something, whether it is a suit, home interior, a car and even a pair of shoes that is designed for the individual and made to order. The word is full of off-the-shelf luxury items that anyone can afford to buy, so I wanted to go back to the original definition of luxury, that being to have something made for you, and only you. What better way is there to express your style and own value?
A blank canvass waiting for your imagination
In this very early stage were you considering any compromises you might have to make or was it a very idealist phase?
I always have the long term vision in my mind, so creating a proper foundation for the brand without compromise is paramount. This meant personally investing far more than I expected without seeing any immediate return, but I am driven by passion and a desire to establish the brand. The investment and personal sacrifice are all part of making a luxury brand endure. I wanted to create a slipper collection without compromise, it took a lot longer to achieve but I would not launch without everything being in place.
Did the fact that you were gearing up to create a brand that is luxury bring with it considerations that a more everyday consumer product and brand wouldn’t have to consider?
Creating a true luxury brand is about conviction and courage not to stray from principles. From the very beginning I wanted to create a brand that will last, and develop in the years to come. Instinctively I know how I want to be seen and known, so I consider everything very carefully and visualise everything down to the last detail so it enters my conscious thoughts and actions. I can’t see myself doing it any other way, otherwise I would not be true to myself.