U.K. Footwear Brand Goes Sweet for SoHo

Irregular Choice isn't for wallflowers. The U.K. footwear brand designed by Danny Sullivan mixes patterns with abandon and isn't stingy with embellishments.

NEW YORK — Irregular Choice isn’t for wallflowers.

This story first appeared in the November 29, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The U.K. footwear brand designed by Danny Sullivan mixes patterns with abandon and isn’t stingy with embellishments. And in February, Sullivan will launch a collection of women’s apparel.

Irregular Choice also has opened its first store on Lafayette Street in Manhattan’s SoHo and is close to securing a location in Covent Garden in London. In addition, the brand is mulling franchising in Milan and Tokyo.

Sullivan’s shoe creations include hot pink ballet slippers, green snakeskin lace-up pumps with a Japanese flower motif, black open-toe wedges with fluorescent pink and turquoise embroidery and a style that resembles Chinese clogs with thick wooden soles shaped like a boat. The brand was created in 1999 as an antidote to the sameness that was pervasive in the market, he said.

“It was quite boring on High Street in the U.K. in the late Nineties,” Sullivan said. “Everything was very black and brown. Within the first season, we found that our colors and prints were outselling black shoes. At first I found factories in China that would do small runs of 40 shoes. It just exploded from there.”

Sullivan said applying his aesthetic to apparel seemed “natural….When people say ‘Irregular Choice’ it conjures up an image. We want to see where we can expand and explore the brand and make it into a lifestyle concept.”

The collection, which consists of tops, bottoms, jackets, dresses, skirts, leggings and handbags, is heavy on prints.

“It’s a little bit cutesy, but we don’t want to be too childish,” Sullivan said. “We have black pencil skirts with pockets on the sides and long jersey dresses with boning on the top that are puffed out on the bottom. We’ve done camouflage prints, but when you look closer you see the design is made up of penguins, igloos and mountain tops. We design all the prints ourselves.”

Sullivan, a collector of Fifties and Sixties furniture, naturally put some “American Diner-y” Fifties polkadot skirts with big ruffles underneath in the collection. There are also jumpers and cardigans. Prices for shoes range from $90 for flats to $250 leather boots. Tops will be $70 to $120; dresses, $150; leggings, $50, and vinyl raincoats with bold prints, $170.

The 1,000-square-foot SoHo store has a candy-store-gone-berserk atmosphere with a giant maroon and pink pouf in the center, a multicolored carpet, walls painted with clouds and sky, black-and-white stripes and a pony mural. Sullivan said weekly sales are $25,000 to $35,000.

Irregular Choice, which produces the shoes for Heatherette’s runway shows, launched a Heatherette Loves Irregular Choice collection. A two-year collaboration with Blythe, a big-eyed doll introduced in 1972, yielded shoes with cameos of the doll. It was recently discontinued, but key designs will be repeated for spring.

Emma Bell, a young designer, is working on a collection for Irregular Choice, and Sullivan is investing in her ready-to-wear collection. “I want to try to build young designers using my financing and factories,” he said. “The idea is to have five or six and let them go off and design with us as the backers and manufacturers.”