31 October 2014
From their company name - associated with 19th Century 'mudlarkers' who combed the banks of the River Thames for hidden treasures - to their sandals named after the birds that populated the beach which once stood in their Tower Hamlets location, Mudlark & Co are firmly rooted within their historic East London locality. In particular, they are a continuation of the area's long-standing connection to quality shoemaking.
Mudlark & Co is a family-run business making beautifully crafted leather sandals using only the best in British materials, including the finest grade English willow, and leather cured in the UK.
Can you tell us who you are, where you were born and where you are now based?
I'm Hannah Roberts. I was born in North Wales and have been living in London for 12 years now.
How would you describe Mudlark & Co?
We are a small, independent sandal-producer based in East London, and we have taken on the archive and patterns of a company that was producing here in the UK since the 1970s. We're very excited to bring these classic styles back and keep the tradition alive.
How and where do you make your work? Can you describe your making process?
Originally it was just us producing, but we were very fortunate in finding a small, family firm of skilled shoemakers here in east London to help us out. Their combined years of experience are priceless and we're learning every day.
What tools and materials do you use in your work? Do you have a favorite material and is there a tool you couldn't do without?
The most important tools are an awl and hammer for sure. They are key tools in constant use, and are well-worn.
The materials are very important to Mudlark and are at the core of the business. We use oak-tanned leather from the UK for the soles; it's from the only oak tannery left here in Britain. It's a three-month process and the results are beautiful.
The wood we use on some of our styles is from a willow farm in Essex. The willow is a by-product of the cricket bat industry and gets treated just the same way. The wood is also kiln-dried for 6 weeks to take out all of the moisture.
What initially sparked your desire to start Mudlark and what drives you today?
The desire to continue this great tradition. I simply couldn't say no. We are passionate about hand-crafted goods and proud to be championing British-made.
Can you remember the first thing you made?
A pair of stilts with my dad, or a wooden CB radio that wasn't much use!
What do you feel the role of makers and designers is today?
To keep these skills alive. It's very important as individual societies that we are self-sufficient and, ultimately, sustainable. Quality goods will always outlive the mass-produced items we seem to thrive on today.
Who in the world would you most like to buy one of your designs?
Edie Campbell. A quintessential British beauty.
Can you tell us about any upcoming projects?
We're getting ready for Capsule Paris and Best of Britannia this autumn, and we've got some exciting new styles to show. We've also just sampled our children's unisex sandal, which is getting lots of attention.
Thanks Hannah! Find out more about Mudlark & Co and their beautiful designs here.
Images Courtesy of Mudlark & Co