Accessories

Sole mates: Meet the duo behind shoe brand Mr. W & Me

Husband-and-wife team Tom and Jane Walsh marry their love of footwear and travel with Mr. W & Me

Tom and Jane Walsh, the husband and wife duo behind shoe brand Mr. W & Me

Tom and Jane Walsh, the husband and wife duo behind shoe brand Mr. W & Me

 

Mr. W is a man of mystery. Hidden behind a camera lens, he’s an all-seeing-eye with a love for beautiful things and a penchant for the finer details. One day he might be taking his lady on a midnight flight and the next, sailing across the ocean on a new adventure. But today, Mr. W is behind the till of his Ponsonby Central footwear boutique in Auckland with his partner in crime, ‘Me’.

Tom and Jane Walsh are Mr. W and Me – the husband-and-wife team behind the local footwear label committed to providing quality in contemporary, and affordable designs. Both Jane and Tom have had a long-standing love affair with shoes. Director of photography and cameraman Tom admits to having a fetish for men’s footwear, while Jane has worked in the shoe industry for seven years as a buyer for New Zealand retailers and in London as a wholesale merchandiser for Park Lane Shoes, working closely with buyers from Topshop, ASOS and Kurt Geiger. After returning to New Zealand, she and Tom launched Mr. W & Me in 2013.

Mr. W & Me designs on display in the Ponsonby Central store.

Mr. W & Me designs on display in the Ponsonby Central store.

 

Working together was something the couple had always aspired to do. Jane had travelled extensively in her different industry roles and, as a cameraman, Tom was constantly globe-trotting – following the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra around Europe, filming a Republican convention in Minnesota, exploring Egypt, or chasing the Loch Ness Monster with New Zealand TV personality Leigh Hart. “It’s been a wonderful job for travel but you get to a point where you think, ‘Jane should be here to experience this’,” explains Tom. “I guess that’s what prompted us to set up a brand and start something we could work on together, travel with together and be able to experience life together.”

Tom shot the whimsical Mr. W & Me summer campaign

Tom shot the whimsical Mr. W & Me summer campaign.

 

So, instead of joining many young couples on the property ladder, Jane and Tom followed their passion and started Mr. W & Me online before opening their flagship store in June this year. Their shoes are manufactured in China and Italy and pricing is kept accessible – think $135 to $225 for style-driven leather boots or loafers. “I’m not a big fan of anything too fussy,” explains Jane, when discussing the Mr. W & Me design aesthetic. “I like the androgynous loafer look but I don’t like it to be too manly either. We have the Kriss Kross shoes in silver, which is kind of a mashup between a shoe and a sandal. We’re trying to have a point of difference without getting too far away from the trends we’re interpreting.”

What has surprised the pair most is the diversity of their customer base. “We have a style called High Dive and when we bought these we thought they’d be for a younger market,” says Jane as Tom adds: “Then I sold
a pair to a woman in her nineties!”

Mr. W & Me
Ponsonby Central
Shop 4C, 136 Ponsonby Road
Auckland

http://www.mrwandme.com

Words: Lucy Slight
Photos: Tom Walsh

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