Álvaro González's sandals are immediately recognisable. A strange thing when they have been widely replicated by multiple fashion houses without reference to the originals he designed. It is, he says, "a compliment", but perhaps one not without its drawbacks. 

The Spanish designer lives between London, where his store is, and Florence, where the sandals are made. As well as his footwear, the store in Marylebone is also home to several pieces he has collected over the years: porcelain palm fronds adorn the wall, a folding cash desk painted with wild horses from Turin sits in the corner.

“I’m a freak! I go to every single flea market, vintage shop, fair. It could be anything: furniture, art, fashion,” González explains, “I just love three dimensional things. It’s design, I suppose - that is the challenge. The store represents my house and my style.

“I’ll tell you something very funny,” he continues, “We still have the family home in Spain and have done since 1560. And the house is full of antiques – I hate antiques! Or no, not hate, I can’t live surrounded by antiques. “

“I remember the first time I went to Paris, it was in the 80s, and I saw a store selling things, not antiques, just have-been things from the 50s. And for me things in the 50s were ‘new’ things. What has always been interesting to me is design.

“And time is such an interesting thing. Time blends everything from the couture to Primark, it puts it on the same level. You could take a piece of couture from this week and something from the highstreet and put it in a cupboard and in 50 years the people will look at those pieces and they will not understand the aesthetic of the moment. The aesthetics, they only work in the moment.”

The centre of the store is dominated by a glass table with a tree trunk – “it’s kind of tacky, cheap 1950s garden furniture,” González says with a smile - which doubles as a stand on which his most recent Cruise collection is presented.

“In this Cruise collection are some of the most beautiful sandals I’ve done. When you see it you just see the chain going across your foot. And I have it in rope, red, blue or tobacco… I have been building on things I have been doing before, but in a natural way.”

Having come to London to study at Cordwainers “in 1990, or 1989”, González then went on to Valentino and Jimmy Choo before setting up his eponymous label in 2013. The shoes began as a personal project, something he was making simply for himself and his husband, Nick Vinson, and later friends. But the sandals, named ‘Alberto’ and ‘Antonio’, were picked up by Mr Porter, before expanding to include a women’s range ‘Alberta’ and ‘Antonia’.

“When you look at Alberta,” he picks up a sleek tan leather sandal, “it looks like a normal sandal, one that you have seen your whole, life. But then you look at it and you realise it is missing one of its straps, so that is what makes it: you have to look at it twice and revise."

"There is a good balance, and I believe blending the new and the old is perfect. But always pushing for quality and admiring quality. What I like to do is stick to the classics and then bring novelty.”

Álvaro is located at 6 Nottingham Place, Marylebone W1U 5NA.

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