After launching a hugely popular shirt range in 2014, Brent Pope is now expanding on his fashion success with a brand new footwear range.
Although he is best known for being one of RTE’s favourite rugby pundits, Brent can now lay claim to being a clothing and footwear designer.
Following on from the huge success of Pope Shirts, the New Zealand native felt like footwear was the next natural step in his design career.
“It’s a natural extension from the shirts that I was working on for the last few years,” he exclusively told VIP Magazine. “Growing up I was always taught to have nice shoes and I’ve always been interested in the design process. I thought it was easier to enter the market with shirts and then expand into shoes after.”
However, unlike many celebrities who lend their name to a brand without much involvement, Brent has a very hands-on approach with his footwear and clothing ranges.
“I’m hands on. I don’t profess to be a designer or anything, but I think I’ve always had an eye for fashion because of my love of the arts.” he said.
“I recently went over to New York and visited a lot of shoe shops there, I also caught the tail end of fashion week and asked experts about current trends. After that trip I came up with my own designs and sent them to the manufacturers.”
When designing his footwear range Brent made sure to include many personal touches.
“For me it’s all about the detail. I have different kinds of laces for different occasions and I even put a lot of thought into the boxing and the bag.” he said.
“I considered everything I liked about buying a new pair of shoes when I was designing them. For example, I always loved the bag that came with a new pair of shoes years ago so I include them as a feature in my own range.
“I also give the option of different colored soles. Like with my shirts, I’m completely hands on, I meet the manufacturers, look at the quality, look at the stitching and the soles. I didn’t want to just put my name to a footwear range and I think people know that from my shirts. I really enjoy being very heavily involved in the design process,” he added.
“I think all in all there’s probably a range of twenty different styles, ranging from formal to casual, and we even have slip-on shoes for the younger market.
“I’ve tried to cover all the bases, my tag line is: ‘comfortably classy’. I spent years wearing very painful shoes so, I wanted my shoes to feel like slippers, but still look good.”
Speaking about Irish men’s style, Brent said he believes they’ve come a long way in recent years, but doesn’t believe they’re ready for truly ‘out there’ attire.
“I don’t know whether Irish men are ready for shoes that are very ‘out there’, but they have come a long way in terms of fashion in recent years.” he said.
“Thanks goodness they’ve finally moved away from the stock block shoe that many of them were sporting for years. Now we’re getting to a stage where they’re becoming more stylish, they may not be as adventurous as the men in New York, but they’re certainly on their way.”
The children’s book author has been inundated with support from his rugby pals, with retired Munster player, Alan Quinlan purchasing a pair as recently as last night.
“I was just doing something with Alan Quinlan last night and he took a pair.” he said. “Some rugby players have gotten on to me saying they love the shoes, you certainly don’t go short of friends when you have a fashion label, especially at Christmas time!
“I think I probably own about 40 pairs of shoes. I look after them very well. My mother was in the fashion industry and I remember her always telling me that I should look after my shoes, and I’ve never forgotten that.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the response so far. The reception’s been phenomenal, especially from friends.”
Brent’s stylish range of shoes are priced from €99-€119 and are available from selected stores nationwide, as well as popeshoes.com.
We’ve no doubt Pope Shoes will be just as successful as Pope Shirts!