15 Minutes with Oliver Sweeney

In 1969 lived a young boy with big dreams. That boy? a fresh faced 16 year old Oliver Sweeney. And the dream? To become a professional shoemaker of the highest order. In 1989, following two decades mastering his craft alongside some of the best in the business, Sweeney felt confident and fully prepared to go it alone.

Fast forward to the present day and the eponymous brand is in the capable hands of Tim Cooper AKA ‘the Cobbler-in-Chief’. We caught up with Tim to find out more about what makes the brand tick, the key to their success and what the future holds…

Could you start by telling us a little bit of the Oliver Sweeney back story on how the business was born?

The brand was born in 1989, we will be 30 this September! Oliver had previously worked in the bespoke shoemaking world and had a vision to create shoes around a unique ‘Anatomical Last’ which had much better fitting properties than the standard production lasts, mimicking the gentle twist of the foot.

What rules do Oliver Sweeney live by when it comes to truly great footwear?

We believe in the value of making things properly. We use the best components from the best suppliers in the world, whether its box calf from Weinheimer using alpine cows, waxed leathers from Charles F Stead in Leeds, Calf leather for hand finishing from the Carli Tannery in Santa Croce or tweeds from Moons of Yorkshire. We then take these components and build product using the best constructions, this could be Goodyear welted, Blake stitched or some of the constructions like Bologna and Goodyear Bologna which are archive constructions we have modernised and refined. The product is then hand finished using beautiful methods to give the shoes patina, the depth of colour and shine that can only be achieved in this way.

Who is the Oliver Sweeney customer?

Stylish men and women who appreciate product made properly.

You also produce a range of accessories and even fragrance. How did this extension of the business come about? 

Yes we sell a full range of clothing, accessories and even fragrance. This started as a result of customers asking about it and has become a significant part of our range over the past 6 or 7 years.

As Oliver Sweeney’s ‘Cobbler-in-Chief’ what do you feel is the key to Oliver Sweeney’s success? 

Our customers, we have a fantastic customer base that appreciate the products we create, and once they become part of the brand they remain loyal, staying with us for many years.

And finally, what’s next for Oliver Sweeney?

We want to continue to encourage new customers to come to the brand in the UK and internationally, this year we will open our first standalone stores in China which we are very excited about.

Shop Sweeney London on BrandAlley here.