This season saw Oak & Hyde launch at Moda Footwear. As the creation of two of footwear’s most well-known agents, the brand benefitted from all the insider knowledge of Graham Baister and Martin Davey. Here, Baister reveals all about the brand’s Moda debut, and the story behind its inception.
Q: What prompted you to make the leap from being agents to being designers?
A: We have both always had an interest and enjoyed feeding back any creative information to the brands that we have worked with over the years. Working with retailers directly as an agent you do get product feedback on what works and what needs to be improved. I suppose the next step on from being an agent was always going to be to try and create something that we could put our own stamp on.
Q: What’s been the biggest challenge in creating your own brand?
A: Would you believe it was coming up with the brand name. Trying to create a name that reflects our quality and high standards and that does not already exist in the market place was always going to be the biggest challenge.
Q: When did the product first hit the shelves, and how was it received?
A: The first season that we delivered was the summer 2015 season. The initial reaction to the delivered product was really positive. We had many comments from retailers that the quality and presentation of Oak & Hyde was to a very high standard. We did try and pay attention to detail, and we only use premium boxes and packaging.
Q: What was your first Moda Footwear like?
A: Fantastic. We had set a target for the level of business that we would be happy to do at Moda, and this target was reached on the first day. We opened up with one of our main target accounts on the first morning.
Q: How did your past roles as agents help you in your new project?
A: I think the main benefit of being agents before starting Oak & Hyde was having existing good relationships with our many customers. We have worked as agents for quite some time and I would like to think that we have done a good job for our customers. We always had a clear vision as to which retailers we were looking to approach. I guess that from our many years as agents we always knew which retail partners would be good for us.
Q: What is the Oak & Hyde point of difference?
A: Quality is one of our main values as a brand and we really think that Oak & Hyde expresses this. We aim to try and stay relevant to the consumer while also creating exciting new product.
Q: What sort of presence do you now have in the UK?
A: We have a very good presence in the UK and Ireland, and currently trade with just over 100 independent accounts.
Q: Are there any plans to expand overseas?
A: We have had some interest from Germany and the US, but it is still early days for any overseas expansion.
Q: How would you like the label to develop in the future?
A: We are looking for steady strong growth with Oak & Hyde, so we are not in any rush to grow too quickly. We are concerned with how online retail is affecting the independent trade so our main focus and priority is to protect our brand in this arena.
Q: Will we be seeing a summer collection and, if so, how will this adapt your key identity as a boot brand?
A: We will be coming back to Moda with our summer 2018 collection. Oak & Hyde is already well-known as a strong sandal brand with our existing retailers. We did start as a sandal brand in the summer of 2015 and are currently delivering our summer 2017 range to retail this month.