It all started for Hannah Rochell aka En Brogue with a pair of purple Converse at the age of thirteen. That love of shoes and flats in particular has grown into a fully- fledged career in fashion writing and has spawned two books on the subject as well as a widely followed blog. We spoke to her about the lack of heels in her life.
“The first time I remember being really in love with shoes was when I desperately wanted a pair of purple Converse Allstars when I was twelve but you couldn’t get them locally on the Isle of Wight,” Hannah remembers. “So, I persuaded my parents to take me on a shopping trip to Southsea for my thirteenth birthday present and we found a purple pair there which I still have. I’ve kept them because they were so special and that was the first instance that I really remember being so obsessive about shoes. Then in my teens it progressed, I was very into Britpop and trainers, particularly Adidas which were the thing and it just got worse and worse from there! But I still love both Converse and Adidas and think of them as my first shoe loves.”
Hannah hasn’t counted her pairs of shoes but she thinks she probably has over 150 pairs. She does however keep them for a long time and has pairs dating back over twenty five years which she still wears. “I go through phases of favourites, for example I find it hard not to wear Birkenstocks in the summer especially if I’m on the Island as they’re perfect for everything that I do down there but I never wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. I rotate my shoes seasonally as well and will soon be putting all of my summer shoes away for the winter and bringing my boots out.”
But not only is Hannah a lover of shoes, but also of fashion. She changed her career when she was 30 after doing a short course in fashion journalism at St Martins College which she did because she fancied learning something new and was working in TV at the time and not really enjoying it. “The lecturer encouraged me to give up my job and coincidentally the TV show I was working on didn’t get recommissioned so I began interning and after that worked at The Times for over five years starting as a fashion assistant and working my way up to fashion writer and then I was fashion features editor at InStyle.” Now Hannah writes regularly for The Pool and The Evening Standard but works mostly on her En Brogue blog which she writes magazine based features for weekly looking at new flat shoe and trainer trends, global shoe brands and fashion must haves. “I work with a few brands on my blog,” she says, “But I also do very niche fashion illustration – I illustrate shoes.” The illustrations can be seen in Hannah’s books En Brogue and En Brogue: The Trainers Guide, both musts for lovers of the flat shoe and she also does illustrative commissions for shoe brands alongside her writing.
Part of Hannah’s blog covers predictions for shoe trends and she’s currently looking at AW18 – which includes ‘dad trainers’ amongst other more bizarre things. “In terms of footwear for the coming season, thankfully there doesn’t seem to be any desire for designers to go back to heels. Block heels have crept back in but it very unusual now to see anyone showing those very high spiky, hard to walk in heels. Flat shoes seem to be here to stay which is great as it means there’s far more choice for women and trainers are a massive thing especially flyknit trainers which are really comfortable. Corduroy is also very big still and is absolutely everywhere from high street to high end designers and there are a few corduroy shoes sneaking through which is great. The seventies via the nineties look is in lots of high street stores as well, so lots of nostalgia and handkerchief hem skirts which are very flattering and look great with flat shoes – JW Anderson showed these skirts with Converse at London Fashion Week which worked really well.”
We end our chat by talking heels, or lack of them in Hannah’s wardrobe. “I got rid of them all, not that I had many pairs. I had a few that were reserved for ‘special occasions’ but I’ve never enjoyed wearing them, the aesthetic is not really my kind of thing in terms of my own personal style but I’m also absolutely appalling at walking in heels; I’ve had numerous occasions when I’ve fallen over in public or I’ve cried because they hurt so much! I’m only 5’3 so a perfect candidate for someone to wear heels but it was the best thing I ever did, ditching them.”
Hannah’s blog En Brogue is an absolute must for every shoe fashionista and lover of flats and trends and her almost encyclopaedic knowledge of trainers is worth its weight in nostalgic gold. Her books which are beautifully illustrated would make the perfect gift for any lover of shoes or would be Imelda Marcos (the shoes not the politics) and if dad trainers are your thing, then she can tell you just how to wear them…
En Brogue: www.enbrogue.com
Instagram: En Brogue
Words: Amber Beard
Pictures: En Brogue, Zak Frackelton, Victoria Adamson