“Born out of frustration, I bought my first aglet-punching machine to produce my own laces and began supplying shoemakers, retailers and fashion brands “.
In late 2012, I was en route to Hong Kong to help a retail group redesign, optimise and renegotiate the supply of their toy packaging from their Asian suppliers. With two hours to wait for my flight at Heathrow airport, I indulged in buying a new pair of brogues (this time from Ted Baker) which came with a pair of dapper blue laces which I thought looked very smart. Frustratingly, but all too common, a few months later the laces snapped and so I started to look for a replacement set. Much to my surprise, this was harder to achieve than I expected and ended up buying a pair on-line for £17 from a manufacturer in Canada. My friendly local cobbler explained to me that it was almost impossible to stock different colours of laces in all the relevant lengths to satisfy customers and the default was always black and brown.
Born out of frustration, I bought my first aglet-punching machine to produce my own laces and began supplying shoemakers, retailers and fashion brands. I also wrote to the founder of Ted Baker who replied in a matter of days which I thought was impressive. Each aglet embossed with ‘TED’ and ‘BAKER’ plus brightly coloured lime-green bespoke packaging. We now have four machines and supply laces to companies and individuals all over the world.
Ted Baker laces on display, made by The Original Laces Company
Ted Baker laces packing bench
To make laces easy to merchandise and display, the eye-catching natural cotton colours and embossed metal aglets or ‘flooglebinders’ we originally packed them in clear PVC plastic test tubes and displayed them in acrylic plastic units. However, in 2018, I decided that plastic was no longer relevant given the movement away from plastic packaging. We took advice from A Plastic Planet and switched to glass bottles and sustainably sourced wooded displays made locally.
Plastic-free packaging and sustainable wooden display for The Original Laces Company
The packs are also half the original tube size so that we could reduce cost and environmental impacts whilst keeping the premium gift appeal of the product. We actually reduced the total cost by over 25%, which was a welcomed bonus. The window of the retail outer pack is made from home compostable PEFC certified cellulose and paperboard sourced from FSC certifed forests.
New plastic-free retail packaging made from 100% woodpulp
Most bench-made, handcrafted shoes still use plastic tipped laces produced in Asia, which when you consider the time it takes and cost of making shoes by hand, does seem a compromise too far. The care and attention to detail in making a luxury product deserves the very best possible finishing touches – in my opinion. This includes the packaging.
Now whenever I buy a pair of shoes, the first thing I do is replace the laces with a handcrafted pair. From our Big Green workshop in Maldon, England you can now select any type, colour, length and aglet (gold, silver or gunmetal) to personalise and finish-off the laces to match your footwear, mood and personality.
Cheaney Oxfords with plastic-free laces supplied by The Original Laces Company
Delivery is free-of-charge to anywhere in the world. Dispatch is usually within 24-48 hours of order. If you use this discount code you will receive 30% off your first order: PLASTIC-FREE
Ian Bates, CEO and Co-founder, REELbrands Ltd