Friday, 26 August 2011

Website to Watch: F-Troupe

A Pythonesque welcome to the website - if you want the full viewing experience from this shoe company, turn up the volume on your computer [image taken as a screenshot by me, from F-Troupe].

With a motley selection of figures from antiquated paintings and drawings, this site is clearly a labour of love. It's quirky and does a great job of involving the viewer.

You may have spotted F-Troupe shoes in the pages of a magazine or from a trip to the footwear department of Schuh, or been fortunate enough to track down one of their brilliant lookbooks; I own one which is circus-themed and full of beautiful illustrations. Paying a visit to their website was something I’ve been meaning to do, as I’m looking to invest in a new pair of boots, but I felt compelled to write about the amazing visual display that greeted me after I Googled.

F-Troupe’s website is particularly interesting as it ensures that the customer does not feel that they are being led into a sales-driven pitch. The design is image-heavy, relying on old paintings set to short animations which really draw you in, but tell you nothing about the products – it’s about having fun and establishing the brand as a little left of centre. As well as all these gimmicks, it’s easy to navigate and very cleanly set out, without reams of text to get through. I find it refreshing to see such a commitment to the experience of a company without feeling pressurised into buying a single pair of shoes. It’s because of this that I feel more keen to track down F-Troupe footwear in the shops (was it just a clever piece of reverse psychology by the marketing men? Who knows?!) and I will be keeping an eye on their future developments.

Here are three of my favourite pieces from their current collection:

The nubuck shoe in black with emerald and royal purple panels - £105.

The 'Bathing Shoe' (that sounds so glamorous and 1940s/50s) in a vivid green, which is also available in black, blue and pink, will only set you back £20. It's an upmarket take on the jelly shoe, but with a nod to the plimsolls that are so popular in the summer.

The men's grey Harris Tweed shoe - £95 - is sturdy but shaped a bit like a pair of Vans trainers. It's not as regimented as the popular biker boots, so it's great for blokes who prefer a more casual look and can rock a retro print. These would also look good for smart-casual occasions (which are increasingly difficult to dress for).

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