Men’s footwear welcomed into the Poppy Barley fold

EDMONTON - Poppy Barley is crossing the gender divide and starting to make schnazzy shoes and boots for men.

Starting in 2015, the local custom-made footwear business will start taking orders from dandified, foot-fancy men for Poppy Barley’s versions of brogues, Oxfords and ankle boots.

Right now, only men on waiting lists are able to measure their feet and order online Calgary Wingtips, Jasper Derbies or Vancouver Chukkas. Every day, another group is allowed to order so any system glitches can be worked out on Poppy Barley’s end. The general public will be able to order come January or February, when the shoes go public.

“It’s huge to enter an extremely new market,” said Justine Barber, who founded Poppy Barley in 2012 with her sister Kendall Barber. Until now, they have sold custom-made women’s boots and shoes in many styles, leathers and colours. The items are made in Mexico factories and tanneries with transparent manufacturing systems. “We get a lot of requests for men’s. There’s a lot of growth in men’s fashion as they become fashion forward.”

The men’s line has five styles to start:

-the Vancouver Chukka: ankle boots with three eyelets. They come in the most colour options including navy.

-the Jasper Derby: a derby dress shoe in deer and calf blocking. Deer is a very soft, textured leather perfect for people with feet problems since it’s very malleable. Calf leather is the quintessential leather for men’s shoes and is very shiny and smooth and less porous.

-the Edmonton Oxford: in black or tan calf, or in black bison leather. Bison is stiffer than deer but softer than cow and has a slight texture, but a matte finish.

-the Calgary Wingtip: a full brogue derby with a wingtip in calf leather. This version was designed specifically for Poppy Barley and includes perforations in the shape of leaves.

-the Toronto Brogue: a semi-brogue Oxford.

Don’t know the manly difference?

-Oxfords are lace-up shoes where the lace eyelets are stitched underneath the top piece of leather.

-Derbys are lace-up shoes where the eyelets are stitched on top of the front section of the show. This allows the laces to be tightened or loosened more than Oxfords, sometimes making them a better fit for men with feet concerns.

-A wingtip is any shoe with a W shape design over the toe cap that extends to the sides of the shoe.

-A brogue is any shoe with a wingtip and perforations punched into the leather.

-A semi-brogue has a toe cap without a wingtip or W shape and perforations along the edges.

The Poppy Barley menswear line is lined with calf and fitted with leather soles with rubber-tipped heels. They range in price from $338 to $398, whereas most shoes with this quality come in at $500 to $600, Barber said.

In a few years, Barber said, “I expect Poppy Barley will become 50-50 (men-women) in terms of who our customers are.”

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