‘I don’t believe beauty and pain go together ... comfort is my trademark’: Nicki Hoyne’s new Irish footwear collection

Deirdre McQuillan: The glitter and feelgood factor of sparkle adds a certain frivolity to the shoes

High fashion aesthetics combine with comfort in Nicki Hoyne’s new Irish footwear collection, her biggest, boldest and most ambitious to date. Known for her signature bows, the new styles from the Kilkenny-born entrepreneur include pink suede peep toe platforms (with big pink suede bows), kitten heels, lots of glitter and, for the first time, trainers. As usual, her footwear makes a strong statement in style and function. “Comfort is my trademark and I think post-Covid as women we have more choices about what to wear, and I don’t believe that beauty and pain go together, so the block heels on the platforms at 9cms are not too high and give a confident lift. And pink shoes sell really well,”she adds. Oversized bows also feature on kitten heels, pumps and slingbacks in everything from gold to leopard print or plain black suede.

The 28-piece collection is notable for multi-coloured crystal embellishment on a lavish scale and being intricate to make, prices reflect the work involved. “This collection is about shoes you wear to a special event – to a hen party, a wedding party, a divorce party or a big moment in your life, so it is a significant purchase for a significant moment. You don’t put them in a shoebox but on a shelf where you are reminded of the occasion that meant something, so there is a story to them,” she says.

For casual wear, the sparkly blue suede denim style platforms studded with crystal look good with jeans – especially cropped flares that show the style off at its best, repeated in the kitten heel variation. “I think people are experimenting more and mixing things up and not being predictable,” she says describing her own approach to what she wants for shoes and sneakers as being classic but unexpected. “It’s important to stick to your own ideas.”

The glitter and feelgood factor of sparkle adds a certain frivolity to the shoes, a look that started with her first collection of tasselled flats in six colours that hit their stride almost immediately in 2021 as did her sequinned mules the following year.


Trainers had been on her mind for a while but required more work. “There is a lot to a shoe – 20 pieces – and getting the structure right is so important. I found (footwear design consultant) Jonathan Morss who has been mentoring me and helping me with the technical part of the design and the structure – it’s my own take on a trainer, classic but with added colour and texture.” Made in Porto, there are two styles, classic and sporty in four colours – beige, white, black with a grey toe, leopard print and white with a pink toe.

Business has tripled in the last year and she is currently shipping to 25 countries with the bulk of sales through her website. “We are selling out online and since January I have decided only to sell direct to customers – I am global now and not focusing on retail. The money saved will be invested in the brand.” Most sales are to customers in Ireland, followed by the UK, US, Canada, Europe “and the Irish diaspora”, she adds. Instagram is a big driver and last year she won two footwear awards from Drapers for Best New Brand and Best Online Operator. She has also been nominated for Designer of the Year in this year’s awards to be announced in June. This shoot, styled by Sinead Keenan highlights the shoes, which come in EU sizes 37-42 (4-9), but also some ideas of what to wear with them. Visit her website to find out more.

Photographer Eilish McCormick; direction and styling Sinead Keenan assisted by Grace Walsh; hair and make up Ruth Brophy; model Alina at NotAnotherAgency. Location: Grey Area Studio.

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan

Deirdre McQuillan is Irish Times Fashion Editor, a freelance feature writer and an author