If you’re Canadian and you love shoes, then you probably know that the place to go is Gravity Pope – where the shoes are plentiful and there’s no shortage of the cool factor. Everything about Gravity Pope stores are stylish – from the designs that are sourced from all over the world to the staff who are dressed in head-to-toe ‘cool.’ Louise Dirks has managed to open one of the most successful independent retailers in Canada with stores in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto. And she hasn’t stopped at shoes. With apparel and accessories shops, franchises and an outlet store on the way, who knows what she might do next?
When did you first develop a love of shoes? How did you come to open Gravity Pope 22 years ago in Edmonton?
I remember coveting my sister’s pair of off-white brogue loafers when I was 10 years old. I knew eventually I would inherit them because I got all of her hand-me-downs.
Prior to opening Gravity Pope, I co-owned an import shop and because our space got too small to stock all the inventory, we decided to open a separate footwear store in Edmonton in May, 1990. Since then, we have opened a Gravity Pope online boutique, Gravity Pope footwear collection, and Gravity Pope tailored goods stores for clothing. We have also opened two franchised stores – Dr. Martens and Camper in West Edmonton Mall. Recently, in November 2012, we opened our most ambitious venture to date; an ‘all-in-one’ footwear, clothing, accessory and apothecary boutique on Queen St. West in Toronto.
We’ll soon be opening a small Gravity Pope outlet store in Vancouver where we’ll hold occasional sales to clear out fashion remnants of seasons past. Stay tuned for the unveiling!
How do you determine what shoes to buy?
I choose products for many different reasons, whether that be clean, simple styling that is well-crafted and of high quality or unique, comfortable and stylish. I am inspired by and love working with footwear makers and clothing designers.
What trends do you see emerging for spring and summer?
For footwear, ankle boots, smoking slippers, platform shoes and sandals, wedges, pointed toe shoes, pastel and neon shoes, clogs and brogues. For clothing, lots of bright colours, sleeveless collar button-ups and linen tees, 50s and 60s style dresses, jumpsuits, printed pants, and A-line mini skirts.
How big is your shoe closet?
Not that big…in fact, I need some new footwear! I lean towards boots over shoes and I wear my boots all year round. I wear about five or six pairs of boots, rotating between each for about two to three years. I don’t really follow trends in footwear. I look for something that feels right for me. I am very particular about what I put on my feet and it takes me months to choose a boot that I want to wear. And when I find the boot for me, I fall in love and wear it for a long time.
What is one of your favourite pairs of shoes and why do you love them so much?
Right now it is a toss-up between my To & Co. hiking boots and my Church’s brogue Chelsea boots. They both have really great soles for walking and standing.
My To & Co’s have a heavy Vibram lug sole and a reversed full grain upper. The leather is super thick and soft and looks like suede from the outside and they perfectly mold to my feet on the inside. They are taupe in color and go with everything I own.
My Church’s also have a good Vibram lug sole and are super comfy. They are rich full grain waxy leather, cognac in color and also compliment all my clothing. I found a perfect Chloe handbag to match and with my Church’s and my handbag, I am set!
Heels or flats?
Flats. I need to get places fast! I love heels but mostly to look at and buy for the store of course.