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The Shoe Consultant Ltd

Should we relax about Clarks' sexist kids shoe names?

14 August 2017 11:45


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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Press Contacts

Susannah Davda

Director, The Shoe Consultant

Tel: +44 (0)7710 872018


About The Shoe Consultant Ltd

The Shoe Consultant helps women, brands and retailers to make better decisions about footwear. It provides VIP services for busy women who need help finding comfortable, beautiful shoes, and consultancy and training to businesses.

The founder and director of The Shoe Consultant, Susannah Davda, believes that shoes should be both comfortable and beautiful. With over 19 years' experience in the footwear industry and a BA (Hons) in Footwear Design, she has in depth knowledge of women's shoes. From how to make a shoe from scratch, to how to market it, sell it, and price it, Susannah is the go-to person for footwear brands and start-ups needing advice.

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.

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