The idea for Poppy Barley custom-made shoes came to co-founder Justine Barber while on a trip to Bali, and travel is once again inspiring Poppy Barley’s latest collection.
The story goes that while Justine was travelling in Bali in 2012 she saw a pair of shoes that she really liked but she couldn’t zip them up over her calves. The shop owner said “no problem, I’ll just make them for you,” and measured her whole foot. “Justine realized that it was strange that, in North America, we buy shoes based on just one measurement — foot length — and that there has to be a way to buy better fitting shoes,” says her sister and co-founder Kendall Barber. “So we started thinking: how do we create a shoe that is beautifully designed but also feels beautiful by using more measurements and high quality materials to give it that fit?”
The result was Poppy Barley: an ever-changing collection of shoes with customizable fabric and size options, handmade in Mexico for each customer. Their new Spring/Summer collection is travel-inspired — and the shoes are perfect for travelling.
“Our customers like to travel,” says Kendall. “This became apparent through the Instagram photos that [our customers] share of themselves wearing their Poppy Barley shoes when they travel, to places including New York and Paris and Moscow, and wherever they are they are in Poppy Barleys. I think that’s a testament to our shoes being that comfortable, that that’s what you wear all day. If you leave your hotel at 8 am to explore all day you can wear these shoes and they’ll work for you. The alternative would be a sneaker, which is also cool, but if you want something that has more of a polished look, our customers are gravitating to their Poppy Barleys.
Kendall’s Travel Tips
Poppy Barley’s co-founder Kendall Barber likes to travel — and knows her customers do, too. Here are her tips for a great trip no matter where you go:
- “I always try to go on a food tour; in advance of going to a new city I book one for the first or second day I’m there. It really helps to navigate menus the rest of the trip, and trying new food is always fun.”
- “All you really need is a passport and a credit card; just relax about everything else. There’s so much stress around packing and you really don’t need a lot, you can always buy it there. I’m a big believer in travelling carry on — even for a couple of weeks. It’s always the same price or cheaper to do laundry as it is to pay for extra luggage.”
- “Choose a neutral colour of clothing, I usually pack all black and blue, and then add accessories for pops of colour.”
- “Just say ‘yes’ to everything while travelling — while being smart about it — as you never know where it will take you and what you’ll get to try.”
Hot Tip: When Kendall travelled to Morocco, the weather was so hot that all of her shoes melted — except for her Poppy Barley shoes. Now that’s quality!
The spring travel collection features new leathers in Desert Tan to keep things neutral, a fun leopard-print on calf-hair leather, and a texture snake print on white leather contrasted with smooth black leather, and a metallic silver leather. The collection has a lot of flat styles — perfect for everything from getting around the airport to day-long walking expeditions — including a lace-up flat, strappy sandals, the D’Orsay flat with fun side cut outs, the Slip-On Oxford that provides a lot of foot coverage, and a flat ankle boot. Of course, if you like your heels, there’s a new heeled, backless mule that has a vintage vibe.
Best Bets for Travelling
Poppy Barley’s Customer Service Lead, Yvonne, recommends the Slip-on Oxford to customers who want to use their shoes for travel. “We have a lot of customers tell us they’ll be travelling to a place with lots of cobblestone, and I always recommend the Slip-on Oxford,” says Yvonne. “It’s like a flat but it’s got the coverage on top which is nice as it makes it more multi-seasonal.” Community Manager Caroline Gault recommends the Chelsea Boot for travel: “I was going for a walk and I didn’t want to wear my runners, so I wore my boots and ended up going for a long walk in the river valley on uneven terrain, and they held up!”
Poppy Barley Shoes can be ordered online and delivered anywhere in North America from www.poppybarley.com.