They say you can tell a lot about a man by looking firstly at his shoes. For hidden within David Cullen’s contemporary Italian-made sneakers is a lengthy love affair with fashion, a brand eager to make a modest mark on the world and a Jersey born concept that may finally put the Island on the international fashion scene.
Frustrated with the lack of footwear buying options for his store, David decided to take matters into his own hands by launching his own brand of designer sneakers under the name of ‘Unseen’. More than just a solution to his customers’ demands, the strength of the Unseen range of sneakers lies in it’s relatable brand identity. The classic sports style shoe is logo-free apart from a subtle embossment which sits on the tongue of the shoe under the laces and a reflective panel on the back. This pared back branding is a response to what David sees as a move away from the bold and brash fashion of late, to something simpler and more refined.
The debut collection of luxury menswear sneakers has surpassed even David’s expectations. The result of a collaboration with renowned London designer Daniel Bailey, the footwear line combines British sensibility with the quality and craftsmanship of Italian producers. At a designer price point the sneakers are of the highest quality craftsmanship, made at the same factory that provides footwear for names such as Prada and Gucci.
With each design reflecting a classic sports silhouette, they are named after parishes in Jersey, something David hopes will help draw more to exploring the opportunities that exist for fashion on the Island. “We are an incredibly unique mix in Jersey of British and European influences and just as we have become a stepping stone into Europe for the finance industry, I believe we can also do this for fashion.”
It’s a risky time to launch a new fashion brand, with retail taking a hit across the UK and with Jersey’s high street in particular suffering huge decline, but it’s a punt David is happy to take. “I’ve been working on this brand for three years now and it has really reinvigorated my love for fashion. I’m very excited about helping to shape fashion instead of just buying it.” The brand has already grabbed the attention of some of David’s close circle of fashion buyers colleagues, along with buyers for top UK stores including Selfridges.
Could the Unseen line be proof that it is possible to run a success fashion brand from the Channel Islands? “There’s a lot of difficulty in operating the brand from Jersey, you need to be travelling a lot to meet buyers and networking, which means I will be off Island a considerable time next year.” With a solid business plan in place from which to launch the footwear into the wholesale market, it is set to be a busy start to the year for David and his team. “I believe that people will invest in well-made shoes if they can see the quality and understand the story behind them.”
A lifetime’s devotion to the industry has taught David that fashion is instant language, and he is more than ready to let his shoes do all the talking.
Shop the Unseen collection here.
Read the full interview with David in this month’s Gallery magazine here.