Shoes fit for Cloud Nine

Camper has sold thousands of pairs of boots in Spain. Now it is putting its best foot forward in Britain. Tamsin Blanchard reports
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
Where do you find a shoe that's as light as a cloud? From this week, you need look no farther than London's Covent Garden, where Camper, the Spanish shoe company, has just opened its first British store.

The Cloud Shoe is not some rainbow-coloured hippie moccasin, but a classic- looking, simple lace-up boot. Only the wearer would know the boot's secret - that it weighs less than 200g (about 7oz).

Camper's arrival means that Londoners need no longer choose between shoe shops selling clones of each other's styles. As well as Cloud Shoes, Camper offers classic flamenco shoes and a new generation of footwear made from industrial nylon. The range includes Cartujano (high-quality leather boots and bags), Twins (odd but matching pairs of shoes) and Mix, at the cutting edge of shoe design and technology.

Gortex is used to make Mix shoes and boots windproof, waterproof and breathable. Thinsulate keeps your feet warm but not sweaty, and the cambrelle lining ensures they dry quickly. High-performance, high-resistance fabric and treated leather are used on the uppers, making it almost impossible for you to get your feet wet. And their fluorescent orange colour will get you noticed even if the terrain is flat and the weather is fine.

To complement these new state-of-the-art shoes, Camper has itself undergone a facelift. The red-and-white logo that made the company look as though it had been around since the Thirties has been redesigned by Neville Brody, the graphic-design whizz. Camper is now ready to give the store a brand- new image in London.

The family behind Camper has been cobbling since 1877, when Antonio Fluxa came to Britain to learn about machine-made shoes. Majorcans have been wearing the Camaleon, the country shoe he created, since then. But it was not until 1975, when Antonio's grandson Lorenzo founded Camper, that the shoes became available in the rest of Spain. When the company recently advertised for staff for the new Covent Garden shop, it was inundated by applications from Spanish people all over London, eager to work for their favourite shoemaker.

Today, Antonio's country shoes are still in production, made - just as they were then - from recycled lorry tyres and cut-offs of carriage canvas, finished with laces of hemp string. They might sound like the sort of thing that Steptoe would have worn, but they are the most comfortable and practical of shoes. Some 23,000 pairs are sold each year, more than half of those in Spain alone. The price of pounds 55 might seem a bit steep for a rural shoe but, like all Camper shoes, they come with a lifetime guarantee against faults.

In Majorca, the Camaleon is still the most commonly worn shoe. Indeed, it is so typical of the country that while walking along the streets of London in a pair recently, I heard shouts of "Hola" behind me. A bunch of Spanish tourists had recognised the shoes and assumed that I was on holiday, too. I shouted "Hola" back and carried on, dreaming of the sea and the sun, walking on air.

Camper is at 39 Floral Street, London WC2 (0171-379 7501).

Comments