Designer Nicholas Kirkwood on Expanding His Business & His New Online Shoe Customization Service

Nicholas Kirkwood designs high-end women’s shoes that certainly aren’t conventional, and it turns out, he’s not afraid to try new things when it comes to his business too.

At the FN CEO Summit in Miami, Kirkwood sat down today to share insights on his brand and how he’s continuing to navigate the future of the industry more than 10 years after launching.

Nicholas Kirkwood, fn ceo summit
Nicholas Kirkwood at the FN CEO Summit.
CREDIT: Patrick MacLeod.

Take his newly launched bespoke service with Farfetch: The NIKEiD-like online customization service allows customers to choose their own colors and materials to create a personalized version of his popular Beya loafer or Beya mule.

Despite the fact that customers around the world can now create their own take on his shoes, he says he doesn’t mind relinquishing that bit of design control to see if the service can be a success.

He says during the beta testing of the site, they “made the most disgusting versions” of the shoes and worked backward from there in order to offer customers options that work together.

“This is very much an experiment to see where this takes us. What we’re finding so far is, actually very few are horror shows,” he said with a laugh.

Kirkwood’s partnership with LVMH helped catapult him to global recognition even more, and he now offers his shoes in roughly 45 countries.

Nicholas Kirkwood, fn ceo summit
Nicholas Kirkwood at the FN CEO Summit.
CREDIT: Patrick MacLeod.

Even with customers all over the world, he says he still makes sure his styles are not region-specific because “people want the same things as everyone around the world,” he said.

When asked if he’d ever consider launching a second-tier line to reach volume customers, he said a move such as that is “not just a matter of taking [his] aesthetic to another line.”

“I’d like to scale the business, and I want to do it with the same integrity that I started out with,” he said.

He added that he would not want to “get to a point where I feel like I’m going against my initial principles just to make more money.”

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