Derek Finch - Men's Buyer

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Derek Finch - Men's Buyer

How long have you been at Pavers? 

It was 3 years in September

What is your favourite style of shoe?

It’s kind of like the ones I wear at the moment which are from here. Like a casual/formal. A traditional brogue style upper but on a lightweight more of a trainer inspired outsole. Mixing classic with modern and they go well with jeans but also trousers as smart or casual. That’s the thing I’m wearing at the minute and a lot more guys are. Once upon a time white soles were a big no no but I think we’re getting more daring.

 

So let’s get going…tell us a little bit about your career history?

My first job was as a footwear merchandiser and my first job was going around the factories in the UK then I later on became a footwear buyer for JD Williams and that was for Ladies and Men’s. It was wide fitting footwear so I learnt all about how to make wide fitting footwear in the UK. Obviously now it’s all been relocated. I was sent to factories for a few days at a time to learn how an insole board are made and how a shank is made, how a heel and top piece come together with a last. All kinds of different construction methods. It’s more difficult for people coming along now. You can still get the experience but I think it just takes longer to accrue that knowledge. I could see it all in one week in the past. So I was at JD Williams for 20 years then I worked for a shoe importer for a while but I missed retail so I went and worked for Littlewoods for 4 years. I left there and went working for Macro which is a wholesale cash and carry and that was more brand orientated and less about the design. Then I came to work here and it’s more like what I did at JD Williams but I only buy for Men’s footwear.

Did you always want to get into Buying?

JD Williams was based in Manchester and being a boy from the suburbs it was appealing to work in the big city because I was younger. Also working for a company like JD Williams because they were expanding at a rapid pace. Sound familiar? I suppose I ended up buying for footwear by accident as I could have been assigned as a stock controller for Ladies underwear. I was 18 when I started. I’d been to college and done various A Level type courses. I didn’t go to University I went straight into work but I went to night school at Salford University and the course was “The chartered institute of purchase and supply” and that covered all aspects associated with buying.

 

Okay tell us about the styles you have chosen from you’re A/W range?

Well I’ll start with the brogues as I know the stores themselves have requested formal brogues with leather soles. We constantly have these in the range but obviously they don’t go to all stores. Stores are also always asking for half sizes and they’re also wanting a quality leather with a leather lining and so these shoes tick all the boxes. They are available in size 6 to 12, in half sizes, in 3 colours and a good price at only £69.99! So hopefully they’ll feel like I am listening. We’ve also really worked on the design of the shoe. I think the shape now is far more superior to what we’ve had in the past, which was more rounded and old fashioned. I developed these in conjunction with some Italian designers and they are really comfortable. So I think the colours, the design yes it’s quite traditional but a modern twist with the colours. The other thing is these are made in our own factory which means we have more control over it. Brogues are a timeless classic; you can still wear them with jeans as well as a suit. I think some guys can get lazy with their footwear. Some will wear the same shoe for daytime and the evening or for work and for casual. There are not that many shoes that tick those boxes but I think a brogue is one. We do several variations of brogues whether it’s wide fitting, light weight or the traditional with a leather outsole.

 

This next shoe is another that I’m proud of. This is a new shoe for autumn/winter. First things first, it’s wide fitting which obviously suits our customer profile. It’s adjustable even though it’s a lace fastening as comfort is key. It’s also a nice quality leather upper and leather lined. Also it’s a great price at only £39.99. Some may say that’s maybe a bit too cheap but I wanted a shoe that had all those attributes at a good price.

 

What key trends do you think will be big this season?

I think it’s the cross over from formal to casual. I think it’s happening in Ladies as well. I think it’s casual footwear that can be worn in sort of semi-formal occasions. It’s all about lightweight so using more Phylon which is from the sportswear industry. A lot more use of colour. In the past it was black, brown and tan but we’ve introduced more colour. The other thing is the mixing of materials so leather with canvas or leather with suede so that’s where the switch from casual to formal comes in.

 

What is your favourite season to buy for?

I actually like winter. I think the majority of men’s footwear is still made out of leather but the ladies less so. Therefore, in winter with boots you’ve got the use of various different types of leather that you can use. Also there’s sole units which are more important on a shoe that’s looking plain so there is more development work required to develop a winter range than a summer. A sandal is less interesting to work on although next year I’m looking at some more technical product with technical outsoles. A lot more use of memory foam foot beds and so on. But that’s for next year.

 

What’s the hardest thing about your job?

If it’s hard then it means I don’t like doing it and I can’t think of anything I don’t like doing. There isn’t a hard part that hurts your brain. I suppose maybe the hardest part is continuously to push the boat forward trying to get design inspiration.

 

Favourite place to go for work?

India. I like the curries. I love the food! The hotter the better. It can be the best place to buy from but it can also be the most frustrating. It’s where the bulk of our men’s formal shoes come from the intention is to source more casual shoes from there.

 

What do you have to take with you when you’re travelling?

A travel plug. I don’t take files or paper I take an Ipad and an Iphone and I make all my notes on that so I’ve constantly got one of them on charge so you need the charger or plug otherwise you’re in trouble.

 

What is your biggest ever fashion faux pas? 

Bearing in mind it was the 80s and in the 80s everything goes and the trend in that particular year was bright orange. I think it was a vest type t-shirt in bright orange which I teamed with some white baggy trousers and bright orange espadrilles. So I was the height of fashion! I had the lot! Coupled with the haircut which was a wedge-type cut.


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