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Sweeney History


Oliver Sweeney

Oliver Sweeney was born in Leicester in the heart of England, but left home while still in his mid-teens to seek a living in London.

The story of how he secured a job as a shop-boy in a grand old shoemakers in the heart of London's West End has become part of the mythology of Oliver Sweeney.

But every bit of that story is absolutely true: Sweeney worked his way up from unpromising beginnings, learning every trick of the trade and the craft of creating quality shoes for men, as well as a good deal about the art of retailing.

This exceptional grounding has stood Oliver Sweeney in strong stead ever since - he has a technical understanding of the business of shoemaking unmatched by any other men's shoe designer operating in the modern-day market.

That's also why his shoes have a superb fit - and why customers usually end up becoming customers for life.

When Oliver Sweeney finally launched his own label back in 1990, initially in a link-up with famous London department store Harrods, he quickly established a reputation as a creator of 'classic-with-a-twist' shoes for the footwear cognoscenti.

Twelve years later he's still that, but also a good deal more. While his collection still features plenty of those 'classic-with-a-twist' styles, it is no longer the core of his business. Sweeney has moved into the fashion arena in a major way - and is now one of the names setting the pace in modern footwear design.

In April 2003 Oliver Sweeney opened his first flagship store on London's Kings Road, which sits alongside a store on Middlesex Street on the edge of the City of London. He also has concessions in Harvey Nichols department stores nationwide (Birmingham, Edinburgh, Leeds, London and Manchester).

In the UK market, he is also one of the most successful British designers, with more than 140 stores stocking Oliver Sweeney shoes and accessories countrywide.

Sweeney has always been appreciated by the fashion press, right back to the early 90s when he was championed by Arena, then considered the most influential of Britain's men's style magazines. In those days, his best-selling shoe was the Storm Derby, an immaculately crafted, hard-wearing rubber-soled Derby which Arena staff took to wearing around town.

Oliver Sweeney's impeccable pedigree has been recognised by many other companies over the years. In the 80s, he was head of design behind the historic McAfee name. Since the late 90s, he has worked with Marks & Spencer, Britain's biggest clothing retailer, on the company's Autograph collection.

Oliver Sweeney shoes combine the creative energy of great British design with the consummate flair of Italian manufacturing prowess. The designer says he has found his spiritual home in Italy. "We use the best shoe factories in Italy," he says. "That means the best factories in the world. The degree of expertise is unrivalled."

Sweeney currently lives between three homes: a country residence in Devon, a townhouse in west London, and an apartment near Florence, in Tuscany. "It's a very busy, sometimes hectic, lifestyle," he says. "But I love every minute of it - and I always make time for a spot of fishing in the river Arno."

Over the years, the designer has developed a growing celebrity following who love wearing his shoes. His celebrity customers span an incredibly mixed range, from Aussie Olympic Gold medallist Swimmer Ian Thorpe to soccer star David Beckham. The extensive list of customers also includes Brad Pitt, Michael Owen, Prince Naseem, Will Smith, Trevor Nelson, Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Pierce Brosnan and many more.

Oliver Sweeney also has great links with the sporting world, sponsoring the England Rugby Union team since 1997, Castleford Tigers and Aston Villa Football team.

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