Otto + Ivy is a UK shoe brand specialising in women's shoes in sizes 8-12 uk. I chatted with founder Laura, to find out more.
A British Shoe Brand for Big Sizes
At 6ft 1inch tall with size 9 uk feet, Laura Schofield always struggled to find shoes. Instead of just moaning about it like the rest of us, she launched her own brand for large size ladies shoes, Otto + Ivy, at the start of 2020.
"I wanted to create a shoe brand women would choose to wear even if size was no object. I was tired of making do with boring, frumpy or entirely inappropriate footwear simply because of my shoe size."Laura Schofield, founder Otto + Ivy shoes
3 years later, the Otto + Ivy collection already has 20 gorgeous shoes and boots for sizes 8-12 uk, including some wide fit options.
Laura has gone from packing shoes after work in her spare bedroom to running the brand full-time with warehouse distribution. Impressive stuff!
Starting a business from scratch is hard and it's been quite the journey for Laura: "Nerve-wracking, fulfilling, stressful, elating… it depends on which day you ask me. And sometimes it’s all of the above. But I love it."
Fashionable Shoes for Big Feet
Laura explains what makes Otto + Ivy different from other plus size & mainstream shoe brands:
"My customer is central to everything I do. She LOVES fashion and getting dressed up, and wants those OH-MY-GOD moments when she buys new footwear. Most of all, she's far too busy living her best life to be stressing about finding big enough and beautiful enough shoes."
"Otto + Ivy isn’t afraid to push the boundaries a bit in terms of colour and style. Not in a wacky, massively out-there way, but I love a bit of detail and colour".
"I create shoes that people are often scared to make in larger sizes. High street brands that do offer the odd larger size, tend to play it very safe (black, black and more black), because it's a niche market."
Otto + Ivy also do a growing number of women's wide fit shoes & boots, between an E and EE width.
Fashionable wide fit shoes in size 9+ UK are especially hard to find, so this is great to see.
Laura hopes to have all Otto + Ivy shoes available in wide fit by the end of 2023: "It’s a big task, and a big investment, but it’s very needed". 🤞
While Otto + Ivy is a UK brand, their shoes are actually made in European shoe sizes 42-46.
That's because European shoe sizes are more accurate, with a smaller difference between sizes than UK shoe sizes. Most shoe brands specialising in large sizes use Euro shoe sizes (apart from in North America).
The Otto + Ivy shoe size guide converts size 42 to 8 uk, 43 to 9 uk, 44 to 10 uk, 45 to 11 uk & 46 to 12 uk approximately. But Laura recommends you choose your usual European shoe size for the best fit.
Otto + Ivy deliver shoes all over the UK from Cornwall and lucky UK customers even get free returns and exchanges if needed.
They also ship worldwide, with plenty of orders from the USA and Australia in particular.
After much rigmarole, Laura finally found a way to resume shipping to the EU in late 2022 which is now working well: "I’m so pleased to be sending there again because it’s such a key market for us… a LOT of Europeans are tall with big feet. We persevered, because I knew there were a lot of women there in desperate need of shoes.".
"My customer is usually my first inspiration for the design process. I regularly ask them what they want, and they’re not backwards in coming forwards. Then I’ll start sketching and mood-boarding what I’d like to sample.", reveals Laura.
The shoe design process takes 6 months on average, with some styles taking up to a year to perfect.
Laura works with professional footwear designers, fine-tuning things to make her dream shoes a reality. "Very, very occasionally, we get it perfect first time. But more often than not, it takes a few rounds of sampling before we can go into production."
Laura personally tests all her new shoe samples for a while to make sure they tick all the boxes: "I like to wear them as much as I can and make sure they’re as comfortable as possible."
Unfortunately women’s footwear trends don’t always flatter big feet. "Sometimes I get asked by customers to create a shoe that I know really won’t look right in a longer size and smaller heel", explains Laura.
She works hard to make her shoe designs look good on big feet: "The length of the vamp, the arrangement of leather panels, the addition of hardware and detailing, it can all play a part to make bigger shoes more flattering. I’ll give everything a go."
"One of the biggest issues with creating larger sizes, is that heels and soles that fit aren’t always available to buy from suppliers, so you have to pay more to open a mould and create your own if you want something specific. Unless you create shoes in huge quantities, it can be difficult to recoup costs."
She recently shared they're now over 2 years old and still look like new wearing them in Spring 2023. It's wonderful when shoes wear as well as they look.
As a small indie business, Otto+Ivy shoes come in relatively small batches & brand new styles launch in smaller numbers still. Laura also orders different amounts of each shoe size, which can be tricky to get right.
"Otto + Ivy is 100% self-funded, so I make what I can afford, sell it and make more", explains Laura. "If I’m starting a style for the first time, I usually make a slightly smaller run. This gives me a good idea of fit, and then I can create more. I usually introduce the wide fit after I’ve done a round of standard fit."
TIP: Sell outs are frequent, so follow Otto+Ivy on Instagram to stay in the loop about upcoming launches (they drop at 10am UK time).
Also, if your dream shoe is sold out, there's a "notify me" button* on the product page so you can get an email alert when your size is back in stock.
*Note: this notify feature is missing on some desktop browsers as of March 2023, but works on phones or iPads.
Brand new for Spring 2023 is the long awaited Dorothy chunky loafer which took an age to get right. An instant hit, it was Laura's busiest launch so far with just size 42 and 45 left a few days later.
And what's next for Otto+Ivy? "I’m looking forward to a lot more newness in 2023. There are so many beautiful flats on the way… some dressier ones that I think people will love", reveals Laura.
It's a real treat to have brands like Otto+Ivy making beautiful shoes exclusively for big sizes. Your friends may even be jealous of your big feet for once! 🥰
Check out the full collection of size 8-12 uk shoes & boots at OttoAndIvy.com.