A Development Update On Our Rounded-Toe Ballet Flat
In late January, we escaped -27C in Edmonton to travel to Mexico to initiate development of Poppy Barley’s first-ever ballerina flats line. The Poppy Barley Flats Collection would encompass the two most classic shapes: a soft, pointed toe, and a beautiful rounded-toe flat—lovingly referred to as “The Contemporary Ballet”.
Over the past few months, we’ve shared photos of The Contemporary Ballet flat--and many of you are excitedly awaiting its arrival. But, it’s mid-August and this style is still not available. We apologize for the delay in releasing our fourth custom shoe style. The truth behind the delay is this: perfecting The Contemporary Ballet flat has taken longer than anticipated, and we’re not willing to compromise on fit, style or quality.
We’d also love one more opportunity to get feedback from you before we finalize the design and components.You can help us tremendously by taking this very short survey.
To fully explain the delay, we’ll take you inside our product development cycle...
We received the first samples of all flat styles, including The Contemporary Ballet. We start by making all of our samples in whatever leather colours we have available at the time (hence the kaki and blue!). We always wear-test our samples, and then critique them before deciding what to change for the next round of samples. The biggest lesson from our first set of samples was that we needed to use more shaper in the toe and heel to prevent this from happening:
Shaper is sewn in between the outer leather and lining leather to help shoes keep their shape. A lot of “shaper” means you have to “break-in” your shoes, but not enough gives your shoes poor durability; it is tough to find the perfect balance.
We made more samples to experiment with the fit of the last, which we thought might be too tight. (A “last” determines the shape the shoes will take and a bad last fit will corrupt a shoe, no matter how great the rest is.) While the last for The Contemporary Ballet flat required further development, our “pointed toe” last was ready to go, and we pushed ahead to make The Classic Point, The Feminine Slipper, and The Modern Mary-Jane available in June.
In June, we received our first samples of the rounded-toe ballet flats using the improved last. The flats were also much better for shaper, insole attachment and finish.
To test the size run (i.e. how does a size 9C fit, how does a size 6.5D fit etc.) we made flats for the Poppy Barley team. We received more useful feedback to help us perfect our rounded-toe flats. Heel blisters were a problem (we went too heavy on the shaper!), and our foot length sizing needed some adjustments.
We also decided our design was a bit boring, so added the option of a cap toe (very trendy for Fall 2013) that can be colour-blocked, along with our toe and heel hardware options.
So, where are we at now?
Shortly, we’ll be receiving what should be our last set of samples before we go into production. That means we are getting ready to order all the lasts, insoles, and soles we need to launch The Contemporary Ballet flat style.
Before we do that, we’d love some feedback from you regarding your preferences for an insole, sole (rubber or leather), and which sizes to bring in. Again, we’ve prepared this super short survey for you.
Once we put the order in, it typically takes two-three months to bring in all the lasts, insoles and soles, and to make the samples we need for photography. This brings us to an estimated product launch date of November/early December 2013—just in time for the holidays.
Thank you for your patience. As a start-up company, we have been blown away by your support and enthusiasm for Poppy Barley. Over the next few months, we'll be working away to bring you a made to measure, rounded-toe ballet flat that's truly perfect. We hope you'll be thrilled with the results.
- Justine Barber, Co-founder
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