I mentioned last week that I will be blogging about Irregular Choice at least once a week on each of my blogs. I'll be discussing upcoming and latest releases, sharing new purchases, styling IC in The Shoe Girl Styles It and of course wearing them in Shoesday Tuesday. Today though, I've decided to write a little more freely and go outside my usual structure. This post actually began a few months ago in response to negative comments regarding a new Irregular Choice collection, but sat in my drafts folder unfinished (I rarely like to hit publish on an angry post). So, I've changed it into an appreciation of the brand to coincide with my new blog feature.
I suspect you all know who Irregular Choice are (footwear and also accessories, jewellery and clothing brand). Most people say to me "I first found your blog when I was searching for an image of Irregular Choice", so the majority share my passion. If I go back to the late 90's when IC were first launched, I can remember seeing a pair of pink poodle mary-janes in Schuh, when I was a poor student (and couldn't afford such luxuries). They were completely different to the boxy, minimalist styles around at that time, with their soft shape and mix of frilly, fancy trims. The adorable poodle pattern drew me in, but then I noticed a rather large embroidered pile of 'steaming' poo on the back. A turn-off for some perhaps, but I was (pleasantly) amazed and most definitely amused; humour on footwear, right up my street! I was already obsessed with shoes, but this brand just spoke to me and were exactly what I wanted. From that moment I was hooked, even before buying anything, I just wanted to see more, to one day own a pair of these fabulous shoes and be part of their 'gang'. None of you knew me then, but you all know now that the dream came true and I've been lucky enough to own several hundred pairs of Irregular Choice over the years (just a small portion shown throughout this post).
If I rewind to the original angle of this post, the Gold Star collection had just launched and among that range were three pairs of giant 8" platform wedges. I know, not exactly practical, but oh my gosh, adorable to look at! I don't want to dwell too much on the bad feedback but the general consensus was that they resembled Victorian toilets or irons. They obviously took inspiration from the ancient 'chopine' shape, but with modern fabrics and finishes and I could see their shape was that way for a reason, so they could be worn as well as admired. As 'crazy' as any of the IC styles may be, they are intended to be used in everyday life. I can also see the Asian element in those platforms, which has been prevalent in IC styles since their founding. The Dustys Do released in the same collection were simply a new version of one of their oldest styles. In the past we've seen split toes, dimple toes and full on (Japanese) Geta elevated structures, some even with tabi (toe socks). So producing a style like this wasn't actually that preposterous. IC have never been a trend led brand, you won't see the "it" heel, fabrics or colours of the season. This has it's advantage because the shoes never date, they are instantly recognisable but don't look out of place in any year.
I do understand that IC don't appeal to everyone, they're not for the faint-hearted. To be truthful it's probably one of the reasons I love them so much, because they are quirky and I prefer unusual. I have a friend that swears the Blythe doll printed on my boots follows her around the room, another who can't understand the concept of the sloped, heel-less looking wedge and people who openly squirm at the split toed Graphic Geek and Fish Out Of Water. For me, when it comes to buying new IC's, practicality is bottom of the list in my decision making, if a factor at all. I definitely don't buy the shoes to sit on a shelf and never be worn, but I don't go looking for something specific, a style or colour that may be missing from my collection or to team them with a certain item from my wardrobe. Irregular Choice shoes are such statement pieces, that you just won't be able to categorise them like that. IC break the mould and give you something unexpected, something you never even realised you wanted and it's doubtful you've ever uttered "I need floral uppers with a statement flower on the t-bar and colourful, carved perspex heels"! When you see them though, you absolutely want them! You can never anticipate what will come next, so that's really exciting.
It becomes less about 'needing' a new pair of shoes and more about buying into something a little magical. It's never about owning the most pairs, having the biggest collection or spending a lot of money, because I feel like I'm building a museum of characters. In saying that, I don't need them all to be different, the classic shapes that are restyled each season (Iconic) such as Hello Ha, Can't Touch This or Mal E Bow, I see as my 'tame' pairs and I'm likely to buy them in several colourways, because I know they work for me. Obviously as my collection grew and storage space became limited, I've begun to take more thought over each purchase and limit myself to a couple each season, with the exception of the character heels, which excite me the most. I just can't help but allow myself that extravagance, especially when they're made in such small numbers. The creation of those has taken the brand to a whole new level and the scope for new styles is endless, I just can't wait to see who or what will be next. I can never answer the often asked question of which pair is my favourite, because each has their own story and I could spend hours just browsing my collection and reminiscing about their history.
I see each piece as an investment and not in the sense of "I'll wear it 'x' amount of times and it'll last 'x' years and therefore it's worth spending money on", but they are works of art. Little treasures for your feet. The design, fabrics and trims used, the sole and box, sometimes even the name and of course the concept and craftsmanship in each pair is what I buy into. It sounds cheesy but I buy IC to escape into whatever world that design holds (even if only for a few minutes) and hope to spread that joy or message with every step I take in them. Be in no doubt you will be noticed wearing Irregular Choice. They will be conversation starters with strangers, there will be discussions between your friends and family of which style is their favourite and that leads to such a thrill each time you get to 'unveil' a new pair. I've been stopped in the street countless times over the years with people fawning over my shoes and asking where they're from. Granted it's often prefaced with "oh I'd never be brave enough to wear them, but they are lovely".
When I wore Low Level Danger to an opticians appointment, I inadvertently caused more than a dozen men to stop in their tracks to witness the flashing lights as I walked. My gnome heeled Chuckles created chaos on the streets of Edinburgh, with a woman even pushing my Mum out of the way on an escalator to get to me to ask where my shoes were from. I constantly find people try and
So when I decide to buy some new IC's, it's not just for something to cover my feet, it's so much more. I suppose that's where the upset came over the platforms. I just couldn't understand how they didn't get it and couldn't appreciate the work that had gone into them. If you aren't prepared to think outside the box, go hard or go home or be all in, then you won't get it and you won't understand and IC probably isn't the brand for you. Yes, there's still the odd style I dislike or I'd never wear myself, but it's unrealistic to expect to love everything they make or for them to please everyone all the time. If you're looking for something different, something to amaze and amuse, then you're likely to find it at Irregular Choice. I have and will continue to. I hope you find something magical that will leave you smitten and enthral others. You never know, it might just be those 8" platforms!