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Essential Journal

  /  Style   /  The Essential Guide to Oliver Sweeney

The Essential Guide to Oliver Sweeney

Timeless style with a modern twist

The Oliver Sweeney philosophy sings loud and clear in everything they do: Create classic, timeless styles with a modern twist and work with the best shoemakers and finest materials in the world to bring those styles to life. It’s a simple philosophy, but it’s one that has carried Oliver Sweeney from strength to strength for almost three decades.

The rich history, enduring passion and peerless know-how of the maverick shoe-maker, Oliver Sweeney, is woven into everything the company produce.

But the brand isn’t content with simply resting on the former glory of the man himself: Oliver Sweeney is a company with a firm belief in never standing still. Over the years, Oliver Sweeney has prided itself on its capacity to constantly evolve. As a result, they have become one of the all-too-rare shoe-makers to have mastered the art of combining classic shoe-making techniques with 21st-century technology and innovation. 

Better yet, they’ve made some real friends along the way. Their collaborative spirit has seen them work together with leading whisky distillers and pioneering selvedge denim producers. It’s clear that their unwavering commitment to their philosophy has made them both a beacon for fellow innovators and a lasting embodiment of greatness from humble beginnings.

Hand-finished Flourish

Oliver Sweeney’s latest autumn collection is a leather-clad ode to their passion for progress

Not only does Oliver Sweeney’s new collection boast an enviable scope and range – from Goodyear-welted and hand-antiquated brogues, to blake-stitched, double monk strapped boots – but each and every shoe is hand-finished. With a firm focus on two traditional shoe-making techniques – hand antiquing and dip dyeing – Oliver Sweeney ensures that every pair of shoes or boots in their latest collection is as refined and unique as its wearer.

Hand antiquing (also known as the Tamponato process) is a traditional Italian way of shading leather. It’s a technique that requires skill and patience in equal measure, but ensures instant, eye-catching character fresh out of the box.

The dip dying technique is a glowing testament to Oliver Sweeney’s taste for experimentation. The shoe is made in neutral leather before being immersed completely in dye and then tumbled in large wooden drums. The result is a truly unique and lightly-distressed shoe that oozes character.

Obsession is Infectious

A closer look at the smaller steps that set Oliver Sweeney strides ahead

Leather Tattooing
It’s a novel, ingenius, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that kind of idea that only the forward-thinking minds at Oliver Sweeney could have come away with, but shoe tattooing offers another clever way of turning the humble shoe into a blank canvas for some serious sartorial self-expression.

‘If you want to leave a lasting legacy,’ says resident Oliver Sweeney Tattooist-in-Chief, Sarah Cooper, ‘sometimes you have to make a mark.’ And she makes a good point. Using actual ink and a real tattoo gun, Sarah is able to add one final, hand-finished flourish to your favourite Oliver Sweeney shoes.

From initials, to quotes, to more elaborate bespoke creations, these unique leather tattoos offer a novel twist on self expression that adds a further touch of bespoke charm to Oliver Sweeney’s hand-finished offerings.

Shoe Shine
It’s so easy to get lost in the artistry and elegance of a pair of Sweeneys that you’d be forgiven for forgetting that each pair is also an investment. Luckily, Oliver Sweeney’s Covent Garden, Marylebone and Manchester stores are on hand to ensure that your shoes remain sharp and shined for every step of their long journey.

All three stores are happy to offer a drop in, while-you-wait, pick-me-up service. There’s even the option to leave them with the store for a more thorough clean and polish. And for those who really like to put their shoes and boots through their paces, Oliver Sweeney also offer their famed Full Monty Service to help breathe new life into punished leather. 

Groom’s Club
It’s a well-known but rarely-uttered truth that the groom and groomsmen are in the spotlight just as much as the bridal party. 

Fear not: Oliver Sweeney has you covered. All Oliver Sweeney stores offer private appointments to help get any groom party ready for the big day. 

Oliver Sweeney invites grooms and groomsmen alike to come along with their suits, sit back with a complimentary drink, and pick out the perfect pair of shoes for the occasion. Not only is Sweeney’s Shoe Tattoo service available should you want to mark the occasion, but Oliver Sweeney also offer a small discount to help celebrate tying the knot.

Oliver Sweeney, Manchester

Oliver Sweeney Manchester store

Perfectly placed among the hustle and bustle of Manchester’s now-iconic Spinningfields, Oliver Sweeney’s The Avenue  store was the first to open outside of London. In true Oliver Sweeney fashion, the concept store features flawless, floor-to-ceiling windows and spectacular lighting, courtesy of award-winning architects Urban Salon. Oliver Sweeney Manchester offers up Oliver Sweeney’s mainline and London collections, as well as a carefully-curated selection of jackets and accessories. 

Meet the Team

Colin Richards, Manager

How long have you worked for Oliver Sweeney?
Eight years.

Favourite Oliver Sweeney shoes
The whole cut styles, for example, Cornello.

Perfect Shoe Tattoo
My favourite tattoo, would be the names of my two children.

Corbin Ashworth, Sales Assistant

How long have you worked for Oliver Sweeney?

Two years. 

Favourite Oliver Sweeney shoes

Bacoli Burgundy (AW16).

Perfect Shoe Tattoo

Manchester bee on the toes, ‘01’ on the back of the left foot and ‘61’ on the back of the right foot, so it reads ‘0161’ the area number for Manchester.


Oliver Sweeney, Leeds

Tucked away inside the illustrious arcades of the famous Victoria Quarter, Oliver Sweeney’s Leeds store is yet another beacon of the brand’s passion for contemporary design and traditional craftsmanship. The arcade’s network of rich marbles, gilded mosaics, and polished mahogany provide the perfect setting for Oliver Sweeney’s classic style and detail-forward creativity.

Mark Selvon, Manager

How long have you worked for Oliver Sweeney?
11 years.

Favourite Oliver Sweeney shoes
Dunbeath boot.

Perfect Shoe Tattoo
Paris skyline.

Dan Heighton, Sales Assistant

How long have you worked for Oliver Sweeney?
Three and a half  years.

Favourite Oliver Sweeney shoes
Something from the Bologna range – Castelvecchio from  AW18.

Perfect Shoe Tattoo
Either the star child or the HAL 9000 computer with the quote ‘I’m afraid I can’t do that Dave’ from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Oliver Sweeney Resoling Service

Get your beloved Oliver Sweeney shoes repaired by their world champion cobbler

Oliver Sweeney’s world champion cobbler and his team will bring your shoes back to life from their workshop in Somerset, England. Applying the same skills, techniques and attention to detail as when your shoes are first made, your shoes will be resoled and finished to the highest standards. 

On arrival, their cobblers will carefully assess your shoes and then place them on their original lasts. The soles and heel are removed and then remade using their original construction and factory components.

Don’t worry, you won’t be without your favourite shoes for long. Oliver Sweeney aims to get your shoes back on your feet within four weeks.*

Instructions from Oliver Sweeney

1 Select the repair product & options you want

2 Add the product to your bag & checkout as normal

3 Print your order confirmation email

4 Return your shoes & the order confirmation to: Oliver Sweeney, Resoling Service, Perren Street, Imperial Works Block B, London NW5 3ED

Please note: All shoes are assessed prior to being forwarded onto our workshop. Unfortunately, we are unable to repair shoes that have previously been repaired by a third party. We advise against using a third party for repair as the balance, internal shape and durability of your shoes can be affected.

Words by Will HALBERT