Poppy Barley
Magazine  v
The Product

Creating Comfortable Shoes for Women, Pt. II

Mar 15, 2013

Developing the Poppy Barley Flats Collection

Welcome to Part II of our four-part series, Creating Comfortable Shoes for Women, Pt. 1: the Poppy Barley Flats Collection. (If you haven’t read it already, here’s Part I).

Let’s talk comfort. We reached out to you, the Poppy Barley community, to survey the most common problems found in off-the-rack ballet flats, and what we heard was lots of feedback reiterating the importance of support, grip and comfort, in addition to requests for a rounded toe option following the release of our initial sketches. We also compiled a list of components that were crucial to shoes receiving the best reviews online, and interviewed our friends and family on their favourite brands and the reasons behind their adoration. Finally, we agreed upon the following six comfort objectives:

  • A soft, flexible leather upper
  • A cushioned foot bed/well-padded insole
  • A leather lining
  • Arch supports
  • A textured rubber sole for traction
  • A small heel or a hidden wedge for a little lift

Comfortable Shoes For Women - Leather pointed toe flats - Spring 2013 Flats Collection - Poppy Barley

Designing the collection involved a vast amount of trend research, focusing on Spring 2013 runway shows, accessories trends, Pantone reports (the leading authority on colour), and the best street style blogs out there to harness a sense of one-of-a-kind creativity and individuality.

The results? This season is all about extremes—from sugary sweet pastels to rich, bright hues; from the ornate and textured to the clean, plain and simple. And so for our inaugural made to measure Flats Collection, we’ve picked seven beautiful leathers (which accommodate colour blocking options), including a gold flake leather, a black python, and a camel suede. From Pantone’s picks, we’ve selected a cool mint, a soft nude, and a bold peony (after all, colour is one of the best parts about spring!). Of course, you can’t go wrong with a classic, smooth black leather option either.

Comfortable Shoes For Women - Leather pointed toe flats - Spring 2013 Flats Collection - Poppy Barley

As for style, we’ve designed this collection to hit notes that are both fashion forward and classic. From left, our modern Mary-Jane is all about architecture, while the Feminine Slipper is a unique take on the menswear trend. The Classic Point honours timeless lines and the almond-shaped toe on our Contemporary Ballet is a refreshing update on the everyday ballet flat (a big shoe trend for Spring 2013 is the return of the pointed toe, which is why we showcased this in the majority of our styles).

With all this research and a majority of the design process complete, our next step was to physically select the materials and consult with our production team at the Poppy Barley studio in León, Mexico (also known as the Shoe Capital of the World). Stay tuned for Part III of our Behind the Business: Creating the Poppy Barley Flats Collection series, where we’ll share some backstage photos from the trip and introduce a few members of our team who truly make an art of shoemaking.

Jump to Part III


Justine Barber

Co-Founder, Poppy Barley
Justine started Poppy Barley with her sister Kendall in 2012 after a seemingly endless frustration with boot shopping. An avid runner and reader, Justine shares her life in Edmonton with her husband Connor, son Jude, and puppy Quinn.