I want – I got Loves Poppy Barley

I want - I got Loves Poppy Barley
I want – I got Loves Poppy Barley

I’ve been completely spoiled by my custom fitted boots from Poppy Barley. It won’t be possible for me to buy another pair of tall boots off the rack again because nothing is going to fit as well. Poppy Barley is an Edmonton based shoe brand that I first heard about in the summer. They offer custom, handcrafted footwear that is Canadian designed and ethically made in Mexico. Sisters, Kendall and Justine Barber are the brains behind the brand. The idea of Poppy Barley came to Justine when she was on vacation in Bali. She came upon a local shoemaker and was disappointed when a pair of boots she wanted didn’t come in her size. The shoemaker said no problem, measured her feet, processed her address and payment. A few weeks later, her custom made shoes showed up at her door in Edmonton. While this is an affordable option for many shoe buyers in other parts of the world, it isn’t common in Canada. Justine had the idea that she wanted to bring custom made footwear to the Canadian market.

I want - I got Loves Poppy Barley
I want – I got Loves Poppy Barley

Justine recruited her sister, Kendall to join her on this business venture. They did extensive research before partnering up with Laura who is the Operations Manager and Lupita who owns the Studio where Poppy Barley’s shoes are handcrafted. Laura and Lupita are based in León, Mexico which has been called the Footwear capital of the world. The Poppy Barley site has extensive material on their manufacturing practices available giving the consumer a level of transparency not seen in the Canadian shoe industry.

I want - I got Loves Poppy Barley
I want – I got Loves Poppy Barley

The Poppy Barley team visited Toronto in the fall last year and hosted a series of appointments for customers to get sized, check out the collection in person and order a new pair of shoes. I was invited to a breakfast to meet the team and get a look at the collection in person. When I first discovered Poppy Barley, I thought it was a great idea. There were existing companies doing some custom footwear that are American based and I always love seeing Canadians make a go of it.

I want - I got Loves Poppy Barley
I want – I got Loves Poppy Barley

Buying boots is a horrible experience for me and for many others. It takes so much time to find a pair of boots that fit acceptably in a style I enjoy. Too many compromises are made that leave me mostly unsatisfied with my purchases. I bought my last pair of tall flat black boots over 6 years ago and they reached end of life. I was dreading the search to replace them that I pretty much avoided it. Custom footwear was a perfect option but I’m pretty old school in my purchasing. I needed to see the product in person first. A good Photographer can make any piece of shit look great and that leads to disappointment when it finally arrives at your door.

In terms of quality and style, Poppy Barley did not disappoint. They had samples of almost every style and colourway of shoe they produce on hand. There is beautiful Poppy Barley branding on the soles and ankles of the shoes and I love the long rectangular zipper pulls on the tall boots. The shoes got major props from me because they are leather lined. The leather was supple and the construction was sturdy. Poppy Barley produces classic boot and shoes styles that will never look dated. They’ve just recently introduced a men’s line and will eventually recreate those styles in a woman’s last/. I’m excited about the men’s brogue fitted to a woman’s foot possibilities. To mix things up, Poppy Barley augments the main collection with Limited Edition versions made with different leathers.

Kendall and Justine made the Poppy Barley visit even better by letting me in on the Poppy Barley experience. They generously let me select a pair of shoes and took me through the whole fitting process. The fitting process sounds like it’s complicated but anyone can do it from the comfort of their own home. (http://poppybarley.com/how/) For those of you that want an expert’s touch, Poppy Barley hosts fitting appointments Toronto at another great Canadian shoe brand, Brodawka & Friends and Edmonton. Check the website to setup an appointment or find out when the next Poppy Barley Pop Up is scheduled.

This was the perfect opportunity to replace my tall flat black boots. They are a wardrobe must and I there was a massive hole in my wardrobe options. It wasn’t an easy choice and I spent a good chunk of time figuring out which ones to go for. I also flipped between flat and heeled boots because the Poppy Barley heel boots are pretty amazing too. After much bemoaning, I settled on The Foxhunt Boot in all black. It’s a classic riding boot with gold hardware. In addition to the standard foot measurements like size and width, I was able to customize the calf size and height of the boot. I have long legs so having the option to customize the height of the boot was a godsend. Ditto for the calf size as it’s always been a bitch getting boots to fit my calves. I’m an ex-athlete and always felt that the standard calf sizes were made for women with toothpick legs. So here was Poppy Barley that allowed me to order the boot I wanted without compromise. That’s massive!

So the hardest part of this whole process was anticipation. Each Poppy Barley shoe is made to order in Mexico and takes about 4 to 8 weeks depending on the shoe type. I ordered on November 15, 2014 and the boots shipped out on January 21, 2015. I was on vacation in Whistler when they arrived. It was one of the only reasons, I was happy to return to flatland. For those of you that don’t want to wait 8 weeks for shoes, Poppy Barley had a ready to wear line also in standard sizes that you can order from. I’d suggest you go for the custom though.

Unboxing was delightful. The boots were exactly like the samples I saw. I had no surprises in terms of quality. Of course, the fit was like nothing I’ve experienced before. The length and width was perfect when wearing tights or socks while the calf size was spot on. The only part of the boot that required some breaking in was the zipper side of the ankle and that only took a couple wears. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t need to add grips to the bottom of my boots. I took the Foxhunt boots into the tundra like conditions Toronto seems to be serving up these days and I didn’t slip and slide all over the place. I can truly say they are the best pair of boots I’ve ever owned.
Also included in my boot purchase was an Organic Collonil Leather Care Kit which came with Organic Bamboo Lotion, Organic Protect and Care, Combi Brush and a polishing cloth. I had no idea there was organic leather care products out there. I immediately put the Organic Protect and Care on my boots. It was nice to be able to use the product indoors and it didn’t have the harsh chemical smell that other products have. I haven’t used the Organic Bamboo Lotion yet but have successfully used Boot Rescue wipes to get rid of salt stains.

I want - I got Loves Poppy Barley
I want – I got Loves Poppy Barley

So, I hope I’ve convinced you to give Poppy Barley a chance. This company is a godsend if you have a hard to fit feet or you just want the experience of custom footwear without going the whole bespoke route. I’m a convert and plan to get myself a pair of Promenade or Highline boots in the near future. I even have a great customer service story to pass on to you guys. I mentioned how much I love the zipper pulls. Well, I broke one and I was fucking devastated. I was put in touch with Customer Service and I sent a few photos of the broken zipper. Thankfully, it was only the pull that was broken and Poppy Barley put a couple zipper pulls in the mail and even told me that they would reimburse me for the cost of getting my Cobbler to put them on. That there is some damn good service!

Poppy Barley’s winter sale is on till this Saturday, February 28, 2015. You can receive $50 off any boot style. This is a very rare deal on custom footwear so hop on it.

Louie Gong x Manitobah Mukluks Gatherer Boot

Louie Gong x Manitobah Mukluks Gatherer Boot
Louie Gong x Manitobah Mukluks Gatherer Boot

I have to admit I’m a bit surprised that I’m writing about Manitobah Mukluks. I’m not a fan of Mukluks and I usually cringe whenever I see people wearing them around the city. They are very popular and the Manitobah Mukluks company is as close to the genuine article as you are going to get.
I’m a huge fan of Louie Gong though and he’s partnered with Manitobah Mukluks to create a boot even I can love.

Louie Gong x Manitobah Mukluks Gatherer Boot
Louie Gong x Manitobah Mukluks Gatherer Boot

Louie Gong x Manitobah Mukluks Gatherer Boot is described by Louie:

The eagle is a cross-cultural symbol of strength, leadership, and long-term vision. By portraying the eagle on a women’s mukluck with a diving posture, oversized claws, and open mouth, I offer symbolic acknowledgment of strong women of all backgrounds. When wearing this eagle design, each step represents bold movement towards your life goals and leading our families into the next generation.

Louie Gong x Manitobah Mukluks Gatherer Boot
Louie Gong x Manitobah Mukluks Gatherer Boot

The grey Louie Gong x Manitobah Mukluks Gatherer Boot are pretty damn cool. The boots are available for Pre-order on manitobah.ca for $299 with delivery happening September 15, 2012.

images: manitobah.ca

Hermes Spring Summer 2011 Shoes

This editorial for the Hermès Spring Summer 2011 collection is wonderful. I scanned the images from the Le monde d`Hermès magazine.

Normally, the only Hermès shoe I obsess over is the riding boot.   However, the last few seasons have been pretty fun for shoes and these are very colourful ones.

images: scanned by me

I want – I got’s Aldo Fall Winter 2011 – 2012 Top Picks

Aldo used to be my inexpensive shoe fix years ago and then I discovered the joys of Nine West. For the last couple of seasons, Nine West hasn’t produced styles that I’ve been interested in so I’ve switching my fix to Aldo has once again.

Here are my top shoe and handbag picks from the Aldo Fall Winter 2011 – 2012 lookbook.  My top pick is the mustard tassel wedges.  So cute.

I tend to like the non-faux leather handbags at Aldo but these ones look good in photos and I love a structured bag.  Lots of animal print choices in this lineup.  It took many years for me to appreciate the style and I prefer to incorporate it via accessories.

images: courtesy of Aldo

i want: Mary Boots by Chloe Sevigny x Opening Ceremony

Chloe Sevigny and Opening Ceremony have teamed up again for the spring summer 2011 season. The boots are super, super tall for 2011. I’m loving it. Keep the platforms coming.

Mary Jo
Mary Jo by Chloe Sevigny x Opening Ceremony

Mary Anne
Mary Anne by Chloe Sevigny x Opening Ceremony

Mary Ellen

Mary Ellen by Chloe Sevigny x Opening Ceremony

Holt Renfrew is carrying the Mary Jane shoe by Chloe Sevigny x Opening Ceremony. I’m hoping they bring in the boots.

images: openingceremony.us

geekiviews: Cougar Boots

Matchstick sent me two pairs of Cougar Boots to review. One pair of rainboots and one pair of winter boots. There were a few styles to choose from and I was lucky to get my first choices.

Cougar Boots - Fall 2010

I was getting pretty bored of my Hunters so I was thinking of buying a new pair of boots. I’ve been looking around and thought about a big obnoxious yellow or purple pair. When I saw the Regal rainboot from Cougar, I needed to own them. They are rubber with a polar fleece lining. They are comfortable, warm and rated from 0°C to -24°C. I’ve only used them in above 0°C situations so I can’t comment on how they work in that weather. They are a sturdy boot, better made than my hunters. Most of all I love the motorcycle boot style. They look great. Regal’s retail for $85.

Cougar Boots - Fall 2010

The winter boot I selected is Ringo Star. I haven’t worn them outside since we have no snow yet. I can’t tell you about function but I love they way they look. They have a polar plush lining and nylon exterior. They are rated from -10°C to -30°C. The faux fur is nice feeling and looking. I probably won’t fold them over to expose the faux fur because then the boots come up to the knee. That feature will be very good in the winter, almost total coverage. Usually my 3 year old Stella’s are my goto winter boot but I think the Ringo Star will take over. The boots are lighter and the shaft is taller. The Ringo Star are easier to lace up than the Stella’s. They retail for $200.

I was surprised at how much I liked the boots when they arrived. I had totally written off Cougar, they weren’t making my childhood boots anymore so I didn’t care. The packaging was very nice and the green plaid liner paper was a nice touch.  I’m looking forward winter and the Ringo Star’s might come to Whistler with me.  They are easier to pack 🙂

Update: September 14, 2011 – I should update my review of these boots since I’ve had a whole winter and spring to use them.

The Ringo Star is an amazing winter boot. I wore them a lot the past winter and I expect the same this winter. I used the Stella McCartney boots infrequently and only used them on the very, very cold days. The Ringo’s were not warm enough. That’s the only weakness of the Ringo Star boots.

The fate of the Regal rainboot wasn’t so good. They weren’t waterproof and I went back to wearing my wellys. I did love the look of them though.

i want: AF Vandevorst Fall Winter 2010 – 2011 Shoes

A.F. Vandevorst Fall Winter 2010 - 2011 Shoes

I love the clunky and armor-like boots from A.F. Vandevorst’s fall winter 2010 – 2011 collection.  You can see them in action in the A.F. Vandevorst fall winter 2010 – 2011 runway show. It’s on their facebook page. It’s the best quality one out there but not embeddable.  The video shows the different styles of the over the knee boots in grey and red.  I love the red ones.  This is a great shade of red.  The clothing is nice too, there were a few exits I liked.

images: tooklookbook.com

CYDWOQ Fall Winter 2010 – 2011

cydwoq Fall Winter 2010 - 2011 Lookbook

CYDWOQ shoes always intrigue me I see them in the stores. They have a striking design style. They are a little bit clunky but exquisitely crafted. I was sent the lookbook and a press release that also gave me some background on California based CYDWOQ and founder Rafi Balouzian. Rafi comes from a long line of shoe-makers and he started CYDWOQ in 1996. He grew up hanging around the family factory in Armenia and made trips to Italy and France. All this time he was learning the shoemaking process from great handcrafted leather artists. Rafi’s son, Ari is the designer and Creative Director for CYDWOQ.

CYDWOQ design influences include nature, architecture, automobile design and old films. The shoes are handmade using the best Italian hand painted leather.

cydwoq Fall Winter 2010 - 2011

Natural choices dominate the CYDWOQ product. In shoe construction, the uppers are hand-lasted to the leather insoles using water-based biodegradable glues. Once inspected, the shoes are packed in distinctive cotton bags and recycled cardboard boxes. It is one of the world’s most ecologically responsible shoe firms, setting the bar for a greener shoe world.

cydwoq Fall Winter 2010 - 2011

CYDWOQ’s construction alone sets them apart. Their shoes are the only all leather shoes that have the insole (footbed) and the outsole contoured with the shape of the foot to facilitate the walking process. CYDWOQ is also distinguished from other shoe companies by the fact that its shoe components are manufactured at the CYDWOQ factory. Where other shoe companies only make the uppers and purchase the components from third parties, CYDWOQ manufactures the complete shoe with 90% of the components (heels, insoles, outsoles, wooden soles) constructed in-house. How is it done? On one side of the factory, the shoe-makers hand-cut the leather bottoms and shape the insoles and soles to the shape of the foot while other craftsmen hand-cut and sand the custom wooden heels. On the other side, shoe-makers sew the uppers and attach them to the lasts using water-based glues. Once completed, the soles and uppers meet in the center of the factory for final assembly, hand-painting, cleaning and quality control.

cydwoq Fall Winter 2010 - 2011

Cydwoq has a beautiful blog on tumblr. Cydwoq is available in Toronto at C Squared and Trove or at other Canadian retailers.

images: courtesy of Cydwoq

i want: Alejandro Ingelmo Fall Winter 2010 Boots

Alejandro Ingelmo is an American shoe designer who studied at Parsons. Shoe making is in his blood and he expanded his great grandfather’s brand, Ingelmo Shoes.

Criss Cross Ankle Boots
Alejandro Ingelmo - Criss Cross Ankle Boots

Laminated Metal Pony Boot Wedges
Alejandro Ingelmo - Laminated Metal Pony Boot Wedges

I covet these shoes mostly because of the towering platform. They both have an 1.5 inch internal platform. I’m always looking to get higher. They are sleek and sexy though too.

images: luisaviaroma

Sanrio 50th Anniversary – Sanrio x Dr. Martens

Sanrio 50th Anniversary – Sanrio x Dr. Martens

Dr. Marten paired up with Sanrio to celebrate their 50th anniversary. I saw a sneak preview of the shoes at the Fall 2010 preview and I was freaking out. It’s just so damn cute. I’ve loved Sanrio characters for a long time in my life and to see them in Dr. Martens form is awesome. Just for record, Keroppi is my favourite character.

Sanrio 50th Anniversary – Sanrio x Dr. Martens

As a “thank you” to their ever-loyal fans, SANRIO plans to unveil special co-branded collections, starting this summer with SANRIO x Dr. Martens. Signature Dr. Martens 8-eye boots & mary jane strap shoes will be bestowed a trademark Hello Kitty bow for this limited edition collection. Collaborations with a diverse group of brands including Brunswick, Girl Skateboard Co., Aerial7, Lomography, Demeter Fragrance, Mimobots, and Build-A-Bear Workshop will launch a plethora of amazing products at retail partners worldwide, featuring an assortment of SANRIO characters. A benchmark of SANRIO’s 50th Anniversary will include iconic characters appearing together for the first time ever (outside of SANRIO’s Harmonyland and Puroland theme parks in Japan), on products including the 8-eye Dr. Martens boot, a Brunswick bowling ball, iPhone cases, apparel, accessories and many other unique products. There will be plenty of signature “small gift” items at market as well, including pens and notebooks, coin purses, key caps & lunch cases, all carried in the 95+ SANRIO stores located across the country and at www.sanrio.com. “Our retail partners and licensees are equally as excited to be part of our 50th Anniversary celebration,” says Ms. Hsu. “We are working with each on targeted programs to mark this special occasion.”(source)

Sanrio 50th Anniversary – Sanrio x Dr. Martens

I’m really smitten with the multi-print boot that features a plentiful cast of Sanrio characters. I might even have to add them to my growing Dr. Martens collection.

Sanrio 50th Anniversary – Sanrio x Dr. Martens

Little Burgundy will be carrying the Black with Pink Bow boot ($175), Multi-Print Boot ($205) and Black with Pink Bow Mary Jane ($160) in Canada and they will be available on August 1, 2010.

images: www.freshnessmag.com, prnewswire.com, Sanrio facebook

i want: Jeffrey Campbell All Stud Boots

Jeffrey Campbell All Stud Boots
Jeffrey Campbell All Stud Boots

It’s funny, I blog about wanting the Rollover vintage leather boots by Bess and then I run across the Jeffrey Campbell All Stud Boots.

Rollover vintage leather boots by Bess
Rollover vintage leather boots by Bess

Definitely inspired by Bess but not identical.

You can get the Jeffrey Campbell All Stud Boots online at Canadian retailer Ssense.com and at Karmaloop.com.

images: ssense.com

i want: Converse Chuck Taylor Boots


I’m always sad when the really cold weather happens because I have to put away my Chucks. It was just too cold to wear them. That’s changed this season because there are now Converse Chuck Taylor Boots.


I like the plaid and leather versions. They cost $140. The one below is nylon and it’s $120.

200911_Converse Chuck Taylor Boots Nylon

They are available at NEON, Get Outside and Little Burgundy in Toronto. You can find the leather and nylon versions in stores now, but the Woolrich Plaid will be available after November 30, 2009.


i want: Riding Boots with Brown Cuff by Philip Sparks

Riding Boots with Brown Cuff by Philip Sparks

When I saw these boots at Philip’s Fall 2009 show I died. I immediately asked if they were going into production and then I asked what the sizing would be. Unfortunately, they start at Men’s 40 which is a 6.5 and too big for me. However guys that doesn’t stop you from getting a pair. The Riding Boots with Brown Cuff can be found at the Philip Sparks online shop.

image: philipsparks.com

i want: Jeffrey Campbell Biz Belted Bootie

Jeffrey Campbell Biz Belted Bootie

Jeffrey Campbell Biz Belted Bootie

I’m playing more attention to boots these days. It’s boots and skinny pants for me right now. I think I’m gearing up for the release of Danielle Meder aka Final Fashion’s Dr. Martens.

Jefferey Campbell is available in Canada at Browns, Frakas, Little Burgundy and Spank.

You can find the Jeffrey Campbell Biz boot online at Canadian retailer Ssense.com

i want: Frye Boots

I’ve been interested in Frye boots in passing for a few years now. If I was to own a motorcycle (which I hope at some point) I would definitely own these.
Belted Harness Frye boots

I checked out Frye‘s website and found some other items I like

Engineer Slouch Boot by Frye
Love, love, love these guys. Nice and tall.
Same goes for these
Frye Campus boot

The Frye Company is the oldest continuously operated shoe company in the United States. The Company was founded in 1863 by John A. Frye, a well to do shoemaker from England. John A. Frye ran the business for nearly 50 years. (source)

Frye boots are available at many shops in the GTA. Here are a few that I know of for sure.

Bootmaster – 609 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario
Rockin’ Cowboy – 754 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario
Western Corral – 1982 Avenue Road, North York, Ontario
B2 and Browns usually have a small selection of Frye boots for sale also.