My new Upper Street shoes... all designed by me!

Have you ever looked at a pair of shoes in a shop and hoped the heel was just half an inch smaller, the colour was just a tad darker, or that it came in snakeskin? Let me tell you, this happens to me all the time... I'm the boring customer who keeps asking "Do they come in other colours? Do you have them in patent?"

For example, recently I saw a pair of gorgeous navy suede heels - I love navy shoes these days, it's quite new - and wished they didn't have the scary 5'' heel they came with. Sometimes a 5'' or higher heel is nice (when you have a driver, when you plan to spend all night in bed...), but for everyday running around I am a 3.5'' to 4.5'' girl through and through... I also love this season's focus on mixing textures and materials, so I wanted something with a bit more oomph, but Swarovski embellishment from heel to toe is not really my thing, especially for office shoes.

Enter Upper Street, aka my new shoe obsession. This is a website where you are able to design your very special pair of shoes from start to finish: you select the shape of the shoe, the embellishment, every single material on the shoe, heel height, straps, no straps, etc. etc. What's even more amazing is you can tailor the fit of the shoes to match your feet, so for my small but wide feet as shaped by years of ballet when I was younger, this is a wonderful plus.

The "Studio" page where you create your design is extremely easy to use, and you can place an order within minutes of starting, or you can do what I regularly do, save loads of new designs onto a little corner called "My Collection". Compared with high-end shoe designers this is a real bargain, with a pair of classic patent pumps at a mere £265.00!

For my first pair, I ordered a pump with a 3.5'' heel, in navy suede with a snakeskin heel, platform and back. They arrived a mere four weeks later in a beautiful packaging, complete with shoe box and dust bag, and are so comfortable I wonder why I've bought stilettos anywhere else before!

Of course I'll continue to buy YSL Tributes and Miu Miu platforms, but this is a fabulous find and I am in love with my new shoes... There are only two things missing on Upper Street: first, ballerinas (that's something they are going to remedy really quick according to the website) and sophisticated and modern-looking embellishments such as feathers, lace etc.

Off to order my next pair!



Caroline Webb said...

I so badly wanted to love Upper Street. I'd started singing their praises widely as I designed my wedding shoes with them. I'd even put my podiatrist in contact with them to see if there was a possibly fruitful collaboration for them.

The first pair came back with a part of the shoe made in the wrong colour. Stressful. Just enough time to get another pair remade, as a rush job. And this pair had unambiguous faults. The leather on one heel is twisted so that it doesn't lie flat. Both heels are covered not with a single piece of leather, but pieces that fall short, so that there is a visible join. Uneven stitching on the front of the shoe. Etc.

What's more amazing is that despite photos of these faults, the production team asserted that the shoes were fine. And that the admin team were more willing to take their word for it than to trust the customer. Or did they really think these faults were OK? I'm truly amazed if so.

I've been offered a voucher for half a pair of their shoes. Not a full refund, or a full voucher (oh, unless I return both pairs of shoes, leaving me with nothing to wear on my wedding day). Really poor. I have to say that I am not one of those high maintenance types. I've been nice throughout despite their errors. But this has pushed me too far. I just don't think they understand that when something as bad as this happens, you throw yourself at the customer to rectify the situation. They had an opportunity to make me feel better, and they have come off as mean and grudging.

What a shame. Such a good business idea. If they could sort their operational issues out, I'd love to see them succeed.

LittleS said...

Dear Caroline, I'm so sorry to hear you've been let down. I know how important it is to get wedding shoes right and it sounds like you've had a really terrible experience. To be honest I'm surprised because I've ordered three pairs with Upper Street now and I've had a great experience each time and the shoes came out exactly as I wanted them. I have wide feet with a high in-step due to years of ballet and they made them exactly to my requirements, and asked a few times whether I was happy with them etc.
And my opinion isn't biased in any way as they didn't sponsor me or anything, I just ordered them myself and paid full price.

Upper Street said...

Hi Caroline,

We're very sorry you feel you've had a bad experience with Upper Street shoes. Having made the shoes of many brides, we appreciate how important a bride's shoes are to her and we work very hard to get every detail right and deliver the beautiful shoes you want and deserve. However we understand you're not satisfied with your shoes and that upsets us, as we genuinely care, that not only do you have your beautiful shoes, but that you've loved the whole experience of desinging with Upper Street.
We know it's only a few days until your wedding and that you're very busy, but we'd love to talk to you in person to resolve this matter.

Caroline Webb said...

I just wanted to let you all know that this story has a happy ending. The CEO called me personally today, to talk things through. She understood immediately the issues, both with the shoes and with the initial proposal of compensation, and she's come up with what I think is a very good, very fair suggestion.

My sense is that the staff acted in good faith but simply lacked experience of how to deal with quality issues; suggests they've not had to embrace a dissatisfied customer before. Which is probably a good sign, and I think they will now have a stronger policy that is more in line with the brand's ethic of giving the customer exactly what they dream of. Shoes wise, I mean. Realising other dreams is probably down to the customer : )

LittleS said...

I'm so happy to hear things got resolved eventually! Wishing you all the best for your upcoming wedding and lots of happiness for years and years to come!