Thursday 6 March 2014

Sperry & Glamour UK at the Wolverine Company Store on 68 Neal Street

Last month's issue of Glamour Magazine featured a write-in contest to win invites to an exclusive evening at the Sperry pop-up at the Wolverine Company Store on 68 Neal Street. After devouring my subscription copy from cover to cover in under an hour, I immediately entered the draw. I never win things in lucky draws, so I was awfully pleased when I received the email confirming my spot. The event included a free pair of Sperry Top Siders for everyone in attendance, so I put GW down as my plus-one, because she'd been talking about going shoe shopping with me for ages. Since we're headed to LA later this year for the next part of our Master's Degrees, boat shoes seemed like the perfect accessory for our future lives in California. (Now all we need is a yacht.)

We arrived somewhat early for the event to beat the crowd, so before we were let in we had a while to admire the oceanic theme through the windows. There were even Nautical flags painted over the store front: if you can decipher what they mean, say the code word in store and you can receive a 20% discount. The ladies in front of us got into a little kerfluffle over their names not being on the guest list, but once that got sorted the evening progressed smoothly. GW & I picked up glasses of prosecco on our way in, and proceeded to have a good look around the store before everyone else filed in. The Wolverine Store in Covent Garden is a fairly intimate space, which was cozy but posed serious hazards - for instance, people's elbows connecting with your drink, or having to awkwardly shimmy past someone when going down the narrow corridor. 

GW and I were impressed by how the entire store had been so intricately decorated to reflect the Sperry brand, including the entire wall that told the history of Paul Sperry and his invention of the boat shoe. A lot of effort had gone in to make the pop-up reflect the whole ethos of the brand. Beautifully framed posters revealed how Paul Sperry was almost swept overboard a ship during a storm, and how watching his Cocker Spaniel retain traction while running on ice inspired him to cut grooves in similar patterns into the rubber soles of his shoes, resulting in the first boat shoe in 1935. 

The rest of the store was filled with pictures of Kennedys on sailing expeditions, looking suitably preppy-chic and glamorous in their Sperry Top Siders. And then there was the rest of the naval-themed decor, including model boats. As someone who's always wanted a sea-side themed kitchen (I have extremely specific desires that I don't even understand either), what they did with the space felt very inspiring. Whitewashed planks! Vintage decals! Naval bunting! It was like stepping into the Living Etc. showroom of my dreams. 

After we received our exclusive goodie bags (Which also included a Relacing Kit, samples from Benefit and an exquisitely rendered key chain), GW & I fought our way past the crowd into the back of the store, where the very talented Khandiz was busy doing shoes customizations. As she monogrammed my initials in Naval flags on the sides of my shoes, we found out about her background as a make-up artist and looked through her previous work on her website - the art series is insanely good. As we waited for the paint to dry, after Khandiz ran me through all I needed to know about caring for the leather and the paint we got to chatting with a lady with the most amazing shoes. Of course, like many beautiful things they turned out to be nearly impossible to get our hands on. Her electric blue wedges had been custom-made in Italy, alas. 

Here's the end result of the customization process! Later in the evening I pranced around the house in my new shoes to check the fit and grip, and much like their unofficial tag line they really do stick like barnacles. They didn't have the size 2.5 that I needed, but the lovely sales-people in the store showed me how to tighten the shoes to fit using the sturdy laces, and I'm well pleased with the results. It's like walking on clouds. They're so well-made and comfortable that I haven't needed to go through the painful wearing-in process, which has been a miracle in and of itself. My only other brown pair of shoes have had their grip completely worn out from constant use, and I've nearly slipped on the tiles of Euston Station one too many times in them, so now I have my awfully stylish Sperrys I can finally throw them out. 

Over the course of the evening, one of the Sperry representatives went around collecting our names for a lucky draw, and apparently it was my night because they picked my name out of the hat. It was sheer dumb luck that I heard my name being called during a lull in the conversation in the busy back room. I rushed to the front, and the prize turned out to be my pick of the accessories. There were watches and sunglasses on display, and after a bit of soul-searching I eventually opted for their beautifully-crafted Portsmouth sunglasses in green and amber, since I already have two well-loved pairs of watches here with me. Try to spot the anchor detailing on the side. The inside of the frame had a cleverly placed boat at sea, and I still can't get over how cute it is. 

Everyone at the event was given 30% off all shoes and 50% off apparel, so I got BB a pair of shoes since he'd just celebrated his 21st birthday and I needed to get him something nice. I sent him a whole series of shoe pictures to choose from, along with messages like "DO YOU WANT THE CASUAL GREY ONES?!" or "BLUE RED OR BROWN????" but it was 4 am in the morning in Singapore and he was already asleep. Eventually, with GW's help, I went with the classic brown leather for him as well. After soliciting his opinion on the matter the next morning, this turned out to be the right choice. 

I can absolutely envision wearing my Sperry Top Siders all over the place during my Easter vacation. M's very generously bought me a new bag for spring, so I'm going to have fashion-forward adventures this April. So looking forward to it. 

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