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Pennangalan shoes and boots


Pennangalan sell a wide range of distinctive, high-quality boots and shoes with exciting platforms, myriad buckles and laces, to suit almost any occasion. The range includes beautiful stiletto and platform boots, Steampunk boots, smart pickers and pikes, Goth and gothic boots, club footwear, fetish boots and shoes, Transmuters, Plate boots, work boots, biker/motorcycle boots, commando boots, bedroom boots, beautiful boots.

They also stock vegetarian boots! Many of their styles are also available in synthetic leathers, made from animal-free materials and glues, suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

Here, Digger talked to Dok at Pennangalan about their range and the business he set up when The Internet was in its real infancy in the 90s.




Dok: Hello David.

Digger: Hello Dok. How are you?
Dok: Good thank you.

Digger: Good for you. Did you have a good weekend?
Dok: Well, I was working!

Digger: On the plus side, sometimes you can get a lot more done at the weekend.
Dok: You’re right, the phone doesn’t ring…


Digger: The vegetarian footwear on your site. How popular is that?
Dok: We sell about 10% vegetarian.

Digger: I wonder how that compares to the percentage of vegetarians there are in the country?
Dok: I think it’s about 5%. I’m a vegetarian myself but I have no concerns about animal by-products.

Digger: I was a ‘pescatarian’ for some time but on the food shows on TV they talk about someone being a vegetarian but eating fish,
Dok: I do too. I think it’s because you have to draw a line somewhere and I think the official definition of a pescatarian can mean that some people will eat shellfish and some won’t eat fish. For me, I decided I didn’t want to eat animals. And then you think you’re treading on bugs on the way to work, antibiotics are killing bacteria.

Digger: Ingesting insects in the summer?
Dok: Yes, and do I squash a bug in my room? So I think you have to draw a line somewhere and I’ve only been a vegetarian for about a year.

Digger: Is it the moral thing or the texture or taste?
Dok: No, I love the taste. I miss meat quite a lot – it’s the moral side of things.

Digger: I started to be a vegetarian about 20 years ago and gave up about five years ago, although I eat very little meat still apart from bacon. There are so many vegetarian products now where they are shaped to look like meat which I think is a bit odd.
Dok: It does taste good and I’m a big fan of the Quorn stuff. and there’s a new protein out from mushrooms as well.

Digger: I think I’ve had some of that.
Dok: I haven’t been able to find that yet but it’s supposed to be exceedingly good for you with more protein in it than meat and a full spectrum of proteins.

Digger: if you’re eating oily fish as well you must be one of the healthiest people in the world.
Dok: I don’t eat that much oily fish because my partner is also vegetarian and she’ll only east salmon and tuna. Occasionally I’ll go and get myself some mackerel or kippers, but you cook ‘em and then the house smells.

Digger: It doesn’t bother me. I open the door and go for it. And my girlfriend disappears for an hour or two to avoid the smell and I’m in bliss with my kippers! So, on with the questions. Can you tell us about the history of Pennangalan?...
Dok: I got into it originally because I built a website for a friend of mine back in the mid-90s when The Internet was JUST starting to take off. Before it was a household name or anything.

Digger: A pioneer!


Chelsea Boot Animal Print

Cuban Beat Boot Animal Print


Dok: And I was working in a company and I got into The Internet through that. A friend of mine was selling clothing – the Goth scene, and I built him a website and he started making a good number of sales on it. It was probably one of the first online retailers in that market. The only thing he didn’t sell was footwear and I thought “I want to catch this bandwagon.” So I found a few suppliers and went online selling footwear. I chose boots at the time because that wasn’t what he was doing.

Digger: Were people quite wary of The Internet at that time?
Dok: No, they were totally unwary of it in the early days. They didn’t think twice about putting their card number into a totally unsecure normal web browser form. And having it sent over. People were very trusting, just as they used to be to a waiter in a restaurant where he used to wander off around the corner with a little piece of paper. Everyone was completely trusting then. (Digger laughs) It was only when The Internet became readily available to everyone and the hacking started that then the media started all their alarm stories. I think the chances of fraud online are still a lot smaller than they are with other methods.

Digger: I’m sure you’re right. You can’t rely on the postal security and you can’t rely on the telephone for privacy. Bu then we haven’t got a problem with booking a hotel on the phone and giving our credit card and the security number on the back. Mad.
Dok: Yes, especially when you got to a hotel because they want your home address too. They’ve got everything they need.

Digger: And they know when you’re going to be away. So you were a pioneer?
Dok: February ’97 was when the site went live so we’ve been selling for 13 years online.

Digger: I was in IT at that time and went to an IBM seminar and there were 100 or so delegates there at the South Bank, IT managers from all over the country. They asked us if anybody had heard of or used eBay and I was the only one to put my hand up – I had been buying and selling movie memorabilia from and to the US. I was a pioneer too!
Dok: Yes. I started on The Internet in ’93 actually selling RAM on Usenet and all you did was advertise on UK4SALE that you had RAM and people would send you cheques in the post and you sent them RAM. That’s how it worked! There was no security or protection or warranties. We used to drive over to the company with wads of cash in our pockets and they’d hand over a case full of thin memory cards which, back then, were worth their weight in gold.
Digger: Yes...
Dok: We’d take them back home and sell them online and that was where it began as a bit of a sideline .

Digger: You stock a diverse range of shoes and boots. What are the strongest sellers?
Dok: Right now we’re finding that we’re selling a lot of winkle pickers, both the pixie style ones and the more sixties and seventies mod style ones. The platforms are out at the moment – they’re not really working. The thigh high boots don’t really work at the moment either.

Digger: It’s just a cyclical thing, isn’t it?
Dok: It is, yes, they come and go so it’d difficult to say what’s going to work one year and what isn’t. The other stuff that’s working is when all this Steampunk came in.

Digger: What about Doc Martens?
Dok: We used to sell those but the problem we found is that the oriental manufacturing cottoned onto that and everything they decided to do ended up being made all over the place, really cheaply, made out of plastic. And what we have found is that people in this country are no longer as discerning as they used to be about the quality of what they are buying.

Digger: It’s more throwaway?
Dok: So whenever someone’s making something like that we have to stop manufacturing it because making them out of real leather we just can’t come near them on price.

Digger: Doc Martens used to have a Covent Garden flagship store and a manufacturing base up here in Northamptonshire, but all the manufacturing went abroad.
Dok: Yes, it all moved to China.

Digger: What does the Internet mean to your business?
Dok: It’s the great bulk of it, 90%. We used to do a bit of mail order but that’s really died.

Digger: Mail orders a thing of the past now. I supposed the big catalogue firms in Liverpool are all having to rethink their business models as well. Littlewoods, Grattan and so on.
Dok: Our customers tend to be younger generation anyway and they tend to be very clued-up communication-wise. They are very much from the ‘want it now, get it now’ era. We do send catalogues out with our boots but even if they use the catalogue for browsing they still place the order online.

Digger: There’s no element of people wanting to come and look at and feel the items?
Dok: Some do, but we’ve got a reasonable return policy. People understand when they’re ordering shoes that there’s no guarantee that they’re going to fit.

Digger: Why do you think Retro is as popular as ever?
Dok: I think it’s because people want something that’s going to set them apart. It’s a modern society and everyone’s got a car, a mobile phone and so on and I think some people like to look a bit different to call attention to themselves.

Digger: There’s quite a mix and match culture – it’s not always that someone is trying to replicate an exact look. They wear a bit of this and a bit of that?
Dok:  Maybe a little bit less obvious pigeon-holing than in the past. Even before the credit crunch came along there was a revival in Rockabilly and Psychabilly.

Digger: I suppose your challenge is to be ready when a new trend, or a revival of an old trend, comes out and that you’re ready to take advantage of the cycle?
Dok: I’d like to be that organised but we spend most of our time just trying to deal with our manufacturers and so on. 

Digger: Are they mostly abroad?
Dok: No, they’re mostly UK-based.

Digger: Oh, you surprise me. I’m in Northampton here which used to be the shoe and boot capital of the world. We just have a couple of small shoe companies left here now. Churches have still got a bit of a base here but all the other factories have been turned into posh flats. The whole of the town centre used to be given over to the industry.
Dok: We work with quite small suppliers these days and the market is quite small so we do find that stuff arrives late. We have two suppliers overseas and the great thing about them is if it’s in stock then they’re quick to deliver but as soon as they run out of stock then they tell us they’re out of stock for six months.

Digger: That’s useful!
Dok: Again, because they’re small, because they have to order by the container-load from China or Taiwan, the time it takes to get a container loaded and sent there’s a big lead time. So we actually prefer the manufacturers who are based in the UK and Europe but they may have their problems and they require a lot of hand-holding. They’re still making leather shoes and get them to us quite quickly. 


Turbo Magic Boots



Digger: Do you see the suppliers much?

Dok: A couple of these suppliers we see face-to-face every couple of weeks or so.

Digger: You have customers from all over the world. What are the most satisfying aspects of dealing with these customers and of running Pennangalan generally?
Dok: When you see a lovely pair of boots being sent to someone and they write back and say how delighted they are with them, that’s quite rewarding.

Digger: Do your shoes and boots ever make it to TV and film?
Dok: Occasionally we get asked to do music videos and we have supplied boots just last week for Naomi Campbell for a photo shoot. But no, on the whole, we don’t do that much.

Digger: Where do you see Pennangalan heading in the next few years in terms of product range and business development?
Dok: Well, we’re looking towards the smart side of the shoe business a bit, so people who want to look smart rather than sloppy. And we’re also emphasising a bit more on the high street because they have got a bit more imaginative. So we’re looking for places that would take our styles on.

Digger: How would that work?
Dok: I think we’ll try and find a couple of up market shoe stores which will be interested and we’ll say that we’ll mass-produce for them.

Digger: When I went on a Med cruise a couple of years ago with my girlfriend we were dropped off at Cannes and Monte Carlo and so on. The French, the Italians and others were immaculately dressed. The British off of our boat were embarrassingly scruffy. You could tell who the Brits were and who the locals were – smart shoes, snappy suits and very smart.
Dok: Yes, the Mediterranean is very much like that.

Digger: And then the Brits! Trainers, shorts, Manchester United T-Shirts. I’m not the smartest person in the world but I looked smart compared to them.
Dok: You feel self-conscious then, don’t you?

Digger: Yes, so if you can help us smarten our act up and make us proud again of our footwear and appearance?
Dok: I think that comes to certain people anyway but certainly I’m personally finding the more elegant shoes to be more satisfying – I still wear the big boots but I prefer the more elegant ones.

Digger: Have you ever done Beatle boots?
Dok: We do have a beat boot style, yes, with a Cuban heel. This is made in London.

Digger:  Well, Dok, thanks for sharing the history of your company with us. Best of luck with your new ranges and the high street presence.

Dok: Thank you David.


Bugsy Shoes

Pennangalan  - We ship worldwide. Goth Boots - Steampunk Boots - Fetish Boots - Club Boots - Buckle Boots - Thigh Boots - Platform Boots - Kinky Boots

Commando Boots, Platform Boots, Stiletto Heels, Winklepickers, Pixie/Pointy Boots, Bike boots, Steampunk, Ankle Boots & Shoes, Knee High Boots, Thigh High Boots, Vegetarian Boots, Rubber/Latex Boots

Telephone: +44 (0) 1753-678076


Pennangalan, 15 Gloucester Avenue, SLOUGH, SL1 3AW, UNITED KINGDOM






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