If you haven’t already noticed, "quiet luxury" is the fashion buzzword of the moment. This aesthetic shifts away from flashy logos, directional cuts and statement hues. It focuses instead on what women want and need in 2023: fuss-free, investment staples that can be effortlessly embedded into an edited wardrobe. And no brand epitomises this more than Dear Frances.
Haven't heard of the London-based footwear label? Let us fill you in. Founded by Australian-born Jane Frances, Dear Frances first came onto the scene back in 2016 and quickly set up base in Fulham. It took no time at all for the brand’s contemporary designs to be snapped up by the fashion set. Soon the likes of Bella Hadid, Sienna Miller, Margot Robbie and Zoë Kravitz – stylish celebrities who, we hasten to add, normally opt for high-end designer labels – were switching out their "It" shoes for Dear Frances’ simpler silhouettes.
But don’t mistake "simple" to mean that these shoes aren’t on trend. One thing’s for sure, Frances knows her target customer inside out. The brand’s modern approach to women’s footwear sees sculptural silhouettes – think square toes and statement heels – balanced with clean lines and neutral colour palettes. You can find everything from timeless strappy sandals to striking croc-effect knee boots on the brand’s website.
Setting itself apart from the extravagant prices at designer "quiet luxury" labels such as The Row and Khaite, Dear Frances’ price point is democratising luxury fashion. With prices ranging between £200 and £800, these Italian-made shoes are certainly investment pieces – but you’re investing knowing that they’ll transcend trends and last you for years.
It is essential to think about people’s real-life needs, Frances tells us. “I’m looking at the complete woman: who she is, what she wears, what she does. I’m always looking at a full wardrobe rather than just what she puts on her feet,” she says.
To get the most out of your clothing and maximise the cost per wear of your items, Frances emphasises that simplicity is key. The brand’s refined designs are always trying to make it easier for women to dress. Before a new style is added to the streamlined collection, it goes through a rigorous questioning process. “Does that stitch add character to the shoe? If not, let’s remove it. I don’t like to complicate things,” Frances adds.
While being environmentally sustainable is obviously still an aim for Dear Frances, the brand recognises that tackling the issue of women wearing the clothes they already have in their wardrobes is the best place to start (which, as champions of climate activist Livia Firth's 30 wears challenge, we're all here for at Red).
Frances understands the stresses we all feel to keep up with the incessant rotation of fashion trends. “There is something calming about stepping back from this cycle of consumption,” she tells Red. “Buying less is at the heart of what we do.”
This is proven in the brand’s carefully curated Instagram. With just one quick scroll, it’s clear to see Dear Frances’ USP: each shoe is accompanied by monochrome palettes, louche tailoring and effortless slip dresses. We’re not surprised when Frances tells us that she started off as a marketeer before foraying into shoe design.
In fact, Frances has been involved in every aspect of the business at some point – she once interned at the family-run factory that created her very first collection. Nowadays, she visits Lombardy in Italy every month to check in with production. “We source locally, working with tanneries and heel suppliers in the same town, which helps to reduce unnecessary transportation,” she explains.
Not only is this a positive for the environment, it also helps prosper relationships and local trade within the community. “Keeping things close and supporting the younger generation in the Marche regions, making sure this craft stays alive, is so important,” Frances adds.
To slow down the consumption of shoes even more, Dear Frances has been involved with the charity Soles4Souls who provide footwear to people in need. The brand supports with financial donations but also uses it as a system of recycling and reusing any excess samples that would otherwise be wasted. Frances is always thinking of future proofing her company and craft.
Speaking of the future; after thriving on a direct-to-consumer basis and cherishing customer feedback, Dear Frances has recently ventured into new retail territories and is now being stocked in spaces across the US, Europe and Australia. And, after such a welcomed reception, the founder hints it won’t be long before we can expect a Dear Frances store all to itself.
We’re certain with Jane Frances's thoughtful approach to business there will be no rush to open something until it's perfect. She reminds us: “Shoes are complex, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!”
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