Ravel Shoes – History and Review

Ravel Shoes or Chausseurs Ravel was a great shop to buy shoes from but what happened to them and what are they doing now? Ravel Shoes!

The company was set up in 1934 as a tiny independent shoe store under various different fascia. It was owned by a Mrs Wise and her family, pretty much the norm for the time, as Mr Freemen, Mr Hardy and Mr Willis got together and formed their iconic company as well as Dolly and Cissy formed the iconic Dol-Cis (not a lot of peope know this!) Wikpedia has it that it was derived from a Swiss insole stamp?

The company grew consistenly over the following years and they added more and more shops to their portfolio. Many years passed by as the company continued to slowly expand and in the 1960′s they were well known as a destination store for trendy London fashionistas. In 1967 the family bought a shop in London on Oxford Street which was called ‘Chausseurs Raoul’ and they changed this later to « Ravel », the ‘Chaussers’ bit was used to give the store a more continental feel! July 1967 was the ‘Summer of Love’ and Ravel captured the moment with outragrous, high leg white patent boots and the start of slim paltform and bright colours! fitting in perfectly with the psychedelic music and fashion of the day.

In late 1967 the Clarks’ family bought a small share of the business which was traded apart from the main Clarks’ company and the company really took off. Their head-office was moved down to Aldershot and later moved in to Conduit Street in the centre of London. This was the perfect place to be, right in the heart of London and the surrounding streets!

When the Wise family decided to retire in 1974, the Clarks Company bought all of the shares and the firm continued to expand. The company became synonymous with quick fashion and a designer feel and sat apart from the huge British Shoes Corporation shops like Saxone and Lilly and Skinner for being different. Ravel Shoes were wild, out there and spot on trend. when platforms shoes were big in the early 1970′s ravel had the best and the biggest with originalty core to their success – other chains sat on the sidelines copying all the key looks.

The company started to lose its way during the 1990′s when in ’99 The Mighty Clarks Organisation made the huge mistake of moving Ravel’s head office to Street,office 2007 product key, Somerset where Clarks itself had its huge office complex, including Clarks Village. Almost immediately the company started to lose its way. It found it difficult to attract the right kind of employee away from the excitement of London and the company employed a stream of inexperienced and junior buyers and merchandisers, most of whom left quickly, failing to adapt to living in the heart of rural Somerset while failing to maintain the high level of fashionability that customers expect from the brand. Eventually buying became a committee decision process and the flair and inspiration that the company had traded on started to evaporate under corporate responsibilty.

Eventually the drab ranges, the company’s remoteness from style-led central London life and the dull surroundings led to the company’s demise, and the oustanding success of the 60′, 70′s and 80′s quickly became a distand memory with the great and the good, and the fashionistas finding better places to shop

It was 2007 when Clarks finally put the chain out of its misery and closed the doors for good. The stores were all sold and the name auctioned off .
The brand name is now owned by the Jacobson Group from Lancashire who now distibute shoes made under the brand name around the country on a wholesale basis. Much of the old look has been retained with high fashion pumps and platforms central to the fashion ethos of the offer. Websites like Shoes.co.uk stock a large selection of the brand which now only features Ladies’ shoes.
So if you were searching for Ravel Shops then you won’t find any because they are no more – A lesson in retail and a lingering message to todays young fashion shops.

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