Guy West of Northampton-based shoe designers, Jeffery West, has received an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Northampton at this year’s Summer Graduation Ceremonies.
Having secured his first job in the footwear industry aged 17, Guy had the opportunity to experience many different areas of the shoe trade and at 22, he established Jeffery West with business partner Mark Jeffery.
The pair had started their first footwear venture at the age of 15, customising shoes from Mark’s family shoe factory, creating unique designer pieces to be sold from markets in the region. The Jeffery West brand has a focus on heritage and craftsmanship, exciting designs and quality materials and Guy’s influences stemmed from the diverse subcultures at the end of the 1970’s – Roxy/Bowie, mod revivals and post-punk. The brand’s signature look is British ironic, individual – not quite fashion, but not quite classic. Today their customers span the generations and with a store now open in New York, they are reaching a wider audience than ever.
He said: “One of the lessons I have learned in regards to being entrepreneurial is that things take a lot longer than you think. You see some people achieve instant success in something they are doing, but that is very rare.
“My association with the University stretches back to when the footwear course was developing. I had some contacts within the University and came in to set some projects for the students and several of them went on to complete work experience with us, not just from the footwear side, but from Fashion Marketing too. I will do as much as I can to support the University as I think the course there is amazing and with the move to the new campus, we will have a unique worldwide course within the town.
“I thought they’d got the wrong person when I was told I would be receiving an honorary award as I’m usually the rebel of the shoe trade! But I am very happy and flattered and it will be an interesting day for me.”
Professor Nick Petford, Vice Chancellor of the University of Northampton, commented: “In addition to celebrating the outstanding achievements of the graduating class of summer 2015, we are also recognising high profile individuals who have made a positive impact on others. The recipients of these honorary awards will inspire our graduates as they begin the next exciting stage in their lives, making their own mark on the world.”
Listen to Guy West talk about his career.