the london discoveries – part 2: t&f slack

Walking through Notting Hill last weekend – and I don’t mean the tourist hell hole that is Portobello Road –  I made another unique discovery, a shop combining classic British design with a colourful twist: welcome to T&F Slack Shoemakers.

The brainchild of husband-and-wife team Tim and Fiona Slack, this shoe manufacturer started experimenting making modern classics back in the 1970s and they were in fact the first to use unusual combinations like yellow and blue to successfully revive great British classics like the Derby. Back then the brand was running under a different name but their shoes from those days are just as relevant now, providing T&F Slack with a unique and extensive shoe archive.

Of course you can go the famous English bespoke shoemakers such as Church’s, John Lobb, and Barker but ask any of them for yellow soles, turquoise leather brogues, or green stitching and you will get a choked look. Not here. T&F Slack Shoemakers is the only shoe brand offering custom, classic English styles made in the heart of Notting Hill, and producing around 150 pairs a month. Their work space houses an eclectic mix of machinery, including what can be considered a manufacturing museum, with pieces salvaged from shoe factories but also simple, modern machinery customised to meet today’s needs. However, as Bridie, the aspiring shoemaker working in the shop tells me, T&F is “customisation rather than bespoke manufacturing”.

What shut me up though was the sheer choice of colours, leathers and variations: the look books feature countless colours and leathers along with more than 40 upper and welt combinations. Combine that with 12 colours of micro sole material and the the possibilities are endless!


T&F2 small

All this decision making was exhausting and so I settled at Soho House’s nearby Pizza East. After 18 months in Shoreditch, Pizza East Portobello last year opened around the corner from T&F Slack. Located in a restored Georgian pub, the stripped back interior is a light and airy space with wooden floors and huge windows, filled with fabulous vintage cafe furniture. While their San Daniele, tomato, ricotta & pesto pizza is simply divine, my recommendation is to try Pizza East for their breakfast.

Your new shoes are the perfect accessory to mingle at any Soho House property. If you’re not a member, the group also operates 3 hotels in London which are accessible for anyone. My recommendation, however, is to take your new T&F Slack Derby shoes to the countryside – Derbys were originally (back in the 1850s that is) country boots and only became appropriate to be worn in town at the the turn of the 20th century – and wear them at Soho’s fabulous Babington House in the heart of Somerset.


Babs Wellies small

Sport them in the bar or take them for a walk around the idyllic lake, just keep off the croquet lawn… On second tought, don’t wear them outside but take a pair of Babington House’s Wellies instead, they come in equally colourful variations!

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