You don’t need to break in a pair of Duke & Dexter shoes to make them feel like they’re your own. Or even put them on. The London-based shoemaker is currently working with artist Morgan Seaford, customising any design in its range with a client’s choice of imagery. It could be a favourite floral motif, a family coat of arms or a whimsical cartoon creature, handpainted on to the surface of a nubuck loafer (from £150) or boot (from £295). Recent commissions have included a pair of tigers, which took Seaford 36 hours to complete, and a portrait of Lawrence of Arabia, the client’s childhood hero. In addition to the price of the footwear, the service costs £175 for a block print, £500 for a large detailed illustration and £50 for lettering.
Seaford came to the attention of the team at Duke & Dexter while shopping at the store in Covent Garden. “I shamelessly wear the accessories that I handpaint,” she says, “including my floral trainers and handbag. I was able to walk into their store and walk out with the title of resident artist.” Archie Hewlett, CEO of Duke & Dexter, saw her appointment as a significant addition to their brand: “We wanted to give people the opportunity to create an emotional relationship between our products and their life experiences. Morgan’s talent and dedication to her craft captivates clients.”
While Seaford has a portfolio of artwork suggestions to show clients, you can also bring anything to the table to put together a design, from a photograph to a doodle or just a vague concept. Her style is distinctive. “I juxtapose vivid colours and detail,” she explains. “I use the thinnest and smallest paintbrush to turn shoes that I work with into something more than a commodity.”