The Times(1) reported this weekend a mother's furious reaction to names of children's shoes. Clarks, the retailer guilty of the "Dolly Babe" girls' shoe and "Leader" boys' style were accused of "everyday sexism". We asked Susannah Davda, Director of The Shoe Consultant Ltd, for her views on this scandal.

Q. Susannah, who names shoes for brands?
A. This varies from company to company, but often it is more junior members of product management teams who propose new style names.

Q. That sounds like fun. Is it?
A. Sometimes, but often naming is done in a hurry, and each name must meet many criteria. Brands produce many new styles each season, so numerous names are required. It can be a thankless task, as there is always someone who doesn't like the name.

Q. What sort of criteria?
A. Well, the name shouldn't have been used to name a previous style, sometimes has to start with a particular letter or fit within a theme, and has to be short enough to fit on labels. It is also important to ensure there aren't any legal issues like copyright infringements relating to the name you've chosen.

Q. Have you ever named a shoe?
A. Yes, I worked for a global footwear brand, and named all of their new women's and girls styles for several seasons.

Q. Why do you think Clarks ended up with "Dolly Babe" and "Leader"?
A. It's impossible to say, but I'm pretty sure they weren't intended to sit next to each other in the store. Clarks told BBC News(2) that the "Dolly Babe" style was an "old and discontinued line". Girls styles on the Clarks UK website(3) now include the not too fluffy "Preppy Edge" and "Hopper Go". The boys "Leader Game" and "Leader Play" are both football-themed styles, rather than anything targeted at future business leaders.

Q. Do you think Clarks should rethink their naming policy?
A. I'm sure they already have. I just hope that whoever named "Dolly Babe" hasn't been reprimanded. I've been in their position and it was a tough job.


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About The Shoe Consultant Ltd

Susannah Davda has over 20 years’ experience in in the creative and business aspects of the footwear industry.

Whilst studying for a BA (Hons) Degree in Footwear Design, she worked in five different shoe shops. After graduation she spent many years working for footwear brands and retailers, within the UK market and internationally.

Susannah set up as an Independent Footwear Consultant in 2015, based near London. She advises shoe brands globally, and has helped lots of exciting shoe companies; from start-ups to established businesses.

With a popular blog, two published books, and regular speaking engagements including BBC radio and ITV News, mum of one Susannah is fast becoming the most sought after shoe expert in the UK.