I founded Shaffay simply because I could not find elegant slippers. I work from home, enjoy having people over and staying with friends. I needed some house shoes that worked with the outfits I wear to do those things - not just with my dressing gown and PJs.
I knew nothing about how to make slippers when I set out on this adventure. No background in fashion or footwear either. My only qualifications were a love of slippers and the picture of the perfect pair of house shoes that was lodged in my head. They would be more elevated than the average slipper - understated house shoes with clean lines and in lovely colours that would effortlessly complement daywear, leisurewear, loungewear and sleepwear. Naturally, they would be luxuriously soft, comfortable and warm. I try to buy well and buy less (slow style over fast fashion every time) so my perfect house shoes would be beautifully made with high-quality materials: strong and lasting and able to survive the odd trip to the garden.
So, I set out to find people to help. I found a brilliant designer in London who translated the vision in my head into a proper “tech” and then some clever craftspeople in Guangdong to make the tech into a real product. I have spent most of my adult life in China, speak Chinese, and knew that I would find great craftspeople there. However, when the time came to do that, I was here in England so communication with the workshop was restricted to Zoom calls, emails and Wechat. Luckily, my husband was in China. Well, not so luckily really: he and I have, as at the time of writing, been separated by Covid for more than 18 months (long story involving travel restrictions and other annoyances), but the upside is that one of us was able to visit the workshop and talk to people there face-to-face.
I am really delighted with the result: the Shaffay Signature collection. Handmade from supersoft lamb’s leather, luxuriously lined with silky soft pile fabric and with a cushioned memory foam inner sole, they are amazingly soft and comfortable – and become even softer and more comfortable with wear. They look lovely: we took the classic mule shape - so that they slip on and off with ease - and brought it bang up-to-date by slightly squaring-off the toe. They have been a real hit already with customers raving about how soft they are.
The first four colourways are inspired by and named for four cities that I particularly love and have a special significance for me: London, Cairo, Paris and Shanghai.
London is where I grew up and the yellow and charcoal colourway reflects the streets of the city. The dark red and blush colourway is named for Shanghai because, in China, red is the luckiest of lucky colours and Shanghai, where I lived and worked for over a decade, is my favourite Chinese city: an über cool metropolis that bustles with dynamic people. The mid-grey and deep-pink colourway is the most feminine and romantic of the four and so it is named for Paris, the location of our honeymoon and, of course, the universal city of love. Finally, the caramel and blue colourway reflects the cityscape and skyline of Cairo, Egypt’s fascinating capital where we spend a lot of our time and where the old man and I plan to reunite soon.