Loafers tend to have a stodgy image. Think of Tod’s, for instance, and the picture that comes to mind is that of an elderly, dapper gentleman. One certainly doesn’t associate the style with a sprightly, pretty, female socialite such as Alexandra Finlay, who two years ago launched Fin’s, a men’s shoe brand renowned for its bright colours. The leading style – the George – comes in 15 shades, including ‘Ibiza raspberry’ and ‘Mystique pistachio’.
‘I wanted to make a pair of shoes for the boys,’ she explains. ‘Everything on the high street had a little frill on it, or some quirk: all of my male friends – who are traditional – didn’t like that, but they couldn’t face having to spend £300 [Dhs1,600] on a shoe that they knew would fall into the sea or get drink split on it.’
And so Fin’s was born. Finlay admits that the range of bright, youthful colours is the main appeal. ‘I wanted there to be a full spectrum of colours that would really visually appeal to our customers, and I wanted something fun. I wanted them to look at the shoe and think, “Hey, instead of buying one pair of Tod’s, why not buy three or four pairs of Fin’s for the same price?” They could buy a classic navy, then buy a yellow to wear in Portofino or Palm Beach. It’s a concept that people have really responded to. They often buy three or four pairs at a time.’
While the style of shoe doesn’t vary too much, Finlay believes this doesn’t pose a challenge to her business because her client base is male. ‘Men, once they see something they like, keep buying it. They’re not like us girls, who one season have to have a black toga, and the next will switch to fringing. Once they find something they like, they come back for more – they get annoyed when things change.’
If you haven’t guessed it already, Finlay is, well, a bit posh. In fact, she has been linked with a growing trend of ‘posh-preneurs’, a term that, quite frankly, bores her. ‘Not that old chestnut,’ she groans when we ask her about it. ‘What I wanted to do – having worked on a lot of luxury brands, both on the editorial and sales and marketing side – was try my best to create a luxury brand that fell into an affordable price range, and to achieve cult status if possible with a fantastic demographic. It’s not something that requires high price points. It’s a fun brand and people who live a certain life have really responded to it. Hopefully I have answered their prayers by giving them a fun, chic shoe brand to wear.’
Those prayers have certainly been answered in Dubai. Last month, Boutique 1 started carrying Fin’s exclusively. ‘I was really excited when Boutique 1 approached me,’ Finlay admits. ‘My shoes have always been really popular in the Middle East. When we were carrying them at Selfridges, I’d find a lot of customers from the Middle East would come over to London and buy eight to 10 pairs at a time.’ Luckily, Dubai residents no longer need to book a flight to snap up a pair (or several) – Fin’s are now right on the doorstep.
Fin’s are available at Boutique 1, The Walk, JBR (04 448 3400, www.boutique1.com). Prices start at Dhs640.