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IN CONVERSATION WITH DAVID CULLEN OF UNSEEN FOOTWEAR
Written by Menswear Style in Interviews on the 27th May 2020 / In Conversation with David Cullen of Unseen Footwear
Atterley is a fashion destination that celebrates and redefines the boutique experience with one seamlessly stylish online platform. Working in partnership with an inspiring global community of independent fashion retailers, they bring you bespoke access to a covetable mix of premium, emerging, and undiscovered labels expertly curated by some of the world’s most talented fashion buyers. Customers can shop a mix of new and established brands from around the world, from your device to your doorstep with worldwide express delivery as standard. One of the independent retailers partnered with Atterley is Roulette Clothing, owned by David Cullen. This menswear store is where style-savvy shoppers on the Island of Jersey go for their fashion fix. David is also the founder of Atterley stocked brand, Unseen Footwear, which is a relatively new sneaker brand designed for the modern-day gentleman.
A reaction to the brand driven logo obsession of today’s fashion landscape, Unseen footwear is designed for those that recognise that real style is understated, not bold and brash. That’s why each product is visually unbranded, keeping the focus on details such as the subtle tonal embossment on the tongue, and a flash of 3M reflective material at the heel. Inspired by Italian style and quality craftsmanship - but with a British sensibility - each shoe is designed in London but handcrafted in Italy from the finest Italian fabrics and sole suppliers, using artisanal production techniques.
In a recent episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we chatted to Unseen Footwear and Roulette Clothing Founder, David Cullen, about the background story of his menswear store and new footwear brand. Our host Peter Brooker spoke to David about why Unseen Footwear is manufactured in Italy and its focus on sustainability. They also discuss how working with atterley.com has brought in extra exposure and revenue during the Coronavirus pandemic; a time when it's difficult to operate as normal for many boutique stores and brand owners due to the lockdown restrictions.
Please tell us about your background
“I started menswear boutique, Roulette, 15 years ago and its based in Jersey. Prior to that I studied fashion in Glasgow, and I was a buyer for Cruise which led me to making some good contacts within the industry. I saw a gap in the market in Jersey which isn’t known for its fashion. I scoped out what was happening in the UK and brought over new brands to the area. We opened our first menswear store back in 2005 and then soon after we opened a womenswear one. Then we opened a sneaker store, and a big Roulette store about 5 years ago which sits at 1 Queen Street, spanning over three floors. We have sneakers, streetwear, lifestyle, denim and contemporary brands under one roof.”
How did you get the idea for Unseen Footwear?
“I’ve been developing Unseen Footwear for about 4 years. It started when I couldn’t get particular types of sneaker brands in the store. I saw a gap in the market for a type of sneaker which would match the clothing that we sold. Also, as a consumer I was personally a fan of a couple of footwear brands, and when I approached them to sell their product in my store they weren’t interested which was frustrating. This led me to start researching the footwear industry and I didn’t believe the prices my favourite footwear brands were charging. So I started looking into developing my own footwear brand and a friend of mine who runs a London-based streetwear label introduced me to a footwear designer who had good contacts in Portugal and I gave him my ideas and aesthetics of the shoes. The samples we received weren’t good and I got quite disheartened by the project. I then shelved the idea whilst I researched different footwear development companies. I then went to Milan to source fabrics and looked at sole units and was introduced to our two Italian agents. They were two young guys and I just had a good feeling about them. We started sampling out of Italy and the quality blew me away. After visiting all the factories and meeting the team we did our first production run and the reaction has been great.”
What’s it like working with Atterley?
“We first started working with them for Roulette. Atterley are able to plug into the back of our stock control system and pull out our products for their website. We work with several platforms online and so far, I’ve been very impressed with the sales coming from Atterley. They’re always first or second each week. That’s why we decided to work directly with them for Unseen Footwear. I’ve been impressed with the support from their marketing team and we have a good working relationship. They’ve been supportive during the recent pandemic lockdown by discounting their commissions, and I couldn’t imagine life without our online platforms. Our own website does well but platforms like Atterley have a bigger team and are able to create good content and bring in strong sales.”
This is a shortened transcribed edit of episode 59 of the MenswearStyle Podcast with David Cullen, Founder of unseenfootwear.com and rouletteclothing.co.uk. You can listen to the full version below or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast player.