Steps to worldwide Winklepicker domination
Digger talks to Robert Burnside
who is continuing a fine British footwear tradition - the
winklepicker, and who has some new takes on a classic
Take a look at Robert's
designs, appropriately named after
rock and roll music heroes such as Adam, Billy, Bo, Carl,
Chuck, Eddie, Jerry, Jonny & Marty
Digger: What is your background
Robert: I started in the shoes
business in 1973 and had a business called Succhi Shoes with 2
partners. This was probably the first real men's shoe company
in the UK. We produced shoes that were not only Black or Brown. We
held a number one slot for many years and finally split our
partnership in 1983.
During this period, we got to
know Kenney Jones of the Small Faces who joined the Who. At the
time, the film Quadrophenia had been released. We decided to
do a fashion show at the Lyceum Ballroom in Covent Garden.
This was based on our high fashion clothing, footwear & Quadrophenia.
We first showed our high fashion ranges, then the stage turned
around to show the range inspired by Quadrophenia. At the show
we had the likes of David Essex, Kiki Dee, Bob Harris, John
One of the funny points was
that the Who's John Woolf did a laser light show and the GLC
made us have a water tanker on standby, in case we set fire to
In 1984 I opened 2 shops in
London's Kings Road & Covent Garden. The shops were the first
to use wooden floors and had a very minimalistic Japanese
look. In fact, they completely changed the way the high street
fitted shops hence forward. The shops were called Giorgio
Ferrari and started the heavy masculine look shoes for women.
I did shoes for Jeff Banks, Reiss, Kurt Geiger etc, as well as
concessions in Warehouse & Oasis Using the rider brand.
Digger: Can you please tell us
about your original idea for resurrecting these Winklepickers
and how it started?
Robert: I had just come back
from India, having designed and supplied shoes to the likes of
River Island & Aldo. However, my heart was not in this type of
business as I had always supplied high quality to most of the
major independents in the UK. I therefore decided to hang up
my shoes laces for good and came back to the UK.
I was having a conversation
with my sister about when we were young and she mentioned that
the first fashion shoes I ever wore were winklepickers. This
influence of the long pointed winkle pickers made me stand out
from the crowd and in effect got me into fashion at 13 years
old. Due to this conversation I decided that I would make
winkle pickers that were comfortable and the best in the
Digger: I love the rock and
roll-inspired names of the different shoes. Please tell us
more about the spec and what styles are available.
Robert: The names I use are the
influences of my youth. The spec is of the highest standard.
Vitello leather uppers, sheep leather lining, leather
insoles, antibacterial insoles with leather sock on top,
purple dyed through high quality leather sole with bonded tip,
high grade heel. In effect you would be hard pressed to make a
better shoe. I make them in Italy at an artisan factory I
worked with in my heyday for 20 years.
Digger: How do you go about
making these the perfect fit and unique for the clients?
Robert: I took the original
1950's last and reengineered it for comfort without loosing
the unique winkle picker look. No one else to my knowledge has
ever done this.
Digger: What are your and
Rebeccas Retro passions?
Robert: Rebecca and I love
anything that is either past or present and made with passion. I
am not obsessed with fashion, but love to see creations of all
kinds. Whether this is furniture, cars, Instruments or
Digger: Why do you think these
shoes have been popular with various youth cultures over the
Robert: I think people always
look back at things that have been distinctive that give a
special look. Winkle pickers have always been worn by fringe
groups since the heydays of the late 50s & early 60s. Even now
if you look at the likes of David Beckham, who is now wearing
a 50s look....only thing he lacks is proper winkle
Digger: And why do you think
generally retro, vintage and nostalgia is so popular with so
many people these days?
Robert: Creative people like
the influences from bygone eras and adapt to their own
individual taste. I also think that the British were very
individual as a race but now generally follow mass-produced
Euro fashion. Whereas in the past we were all much more off
the wall. Most fashion influences started in the UK.... Look
back and you have Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockers, Punks, 70s look, New
Romantics - the list goes on...but after the 70s in my opinion
we started to lose it...
Digger: Who are your typical
customers, where are your customers coming from and what
customer feedback/comments do you get?
Robert: My initial customers
were from the biker world (hence our link with the Ace Cafe)
However we are now getting a lot of people linked to the music
world of all ages.
I have had a 100% good feedback
from every customer I have ever supplied. I have never even in
my hey day had such good reviews. I have attached a few of the
reviews for you.
Digger: What would you say is
special about the 19-60 experience and product?
Robert: From the minute you
receive the package you know you have something special and
then of course the quality and fit. They just make you feel
Digger: What are the best and
most enjoyable aspects of running 19-60 Winklepickers?
Robert: I have spoken to every
single customer by email or telephone. I appreciate that some
customers have thought long and hard before buying the winkle
pickers and look forward to the feedback, as I know that they
will be delighted what they receive. This really gives me a
Digger: What are your plans for
the 19-60 Winklepickers business in the future?
Robert: I have made a range of
women's winklepickers which I will eventually get round to
launching. Probably later this year. I would like to develop
19-60 as a life style brand and eventually link to bands and
bike clubs all around the world. This is not for the profit,
just the enjoyment. Unfortunately, I am not talented enough to
do all this cyber stuff myself. However my daughter has now
decided to operate my Facebook and anything to do with the
cyber world, so there is hope.
Robert, ( DUBAI )
I opened the box expecting to find nice shoes, just like
the pictures on the internet. What I found blew me away.
The boots are simply stunning. The internet photos are
good, but they do not capture the real personality,
elegance, and luxury that ooze from these boots. The
design is even more attractive than the picture. The shape
is simply wonderful. They are lovely even to just hold and
look at. The leather is the softest and finest, and the
attention to detail in the workmanship is a joy. These
have been designed and made with love. As you might have
guessed, I could not be more thrilled. Thank you for
bringing back memories of my feet a long time ago, and for
doing it with so much more style than the winkle-pickers
of my youth. One day, all shoes will be made this way.
I will get out and about this weekend and take some photos
All best wishes,
Hello Robert, ( USA )
I wanted to thank you for the wonderful shoes and boots
that Danny delivered to me. I had been waiting and I can't
tell you how terrific I think they are and how excited I
am to wear them. Besides the classic vintage styling, it
is the workmanship and superb materials and construction
that makes these a winner for me on all fronts. I
absolutely love them and will send you a photo of me
Thank you again and I'm sure I will be buying more from
All my best,
INCREDIBLE!!! I couldnt be more pleased. These boot are
THE BUSINESS Thank you so much for these, they are the
best shoes or boots I have ever owned or seen.
Cheers from a happy customer
1. Praise to 19-60.com....Paul Opperman (New York City)
How do I begin to praise the noble Winkle Picker? They
rock. Theyre elegant. Theyre super-sleek. But most
excellently, they are insanely comfortable!
And thats the point. Shoes with this kind of pointy rock
and roll heart being so pleasurable to wear are a miracle.
An Italian chassis with an English soul. They go from
suits to Marshall stacks. I am now up to four pairs. Pure
Regards and thanks to 19-60.com for a superb product!!!
Steps to worldwide
Winkle Pickers were
originally worn in the late 1950s by the new breed of
British youngsters called rock fans. This group of young
people were followers of the new rock music and developed
a look of their own that included the new pointed shoes.
Winkle pickers were popular in the early 60s with
modernists, (forerunners of the Mods). The true mod was a
sharp dresser, but their era was 1963 to 64, either side
of this was fashion developing. Londons West End was
where you bought your gear off the peg from the likes of
Lord John, John Steven etc. Outside of London the guys
would go to Burtons, John Collier Hepworths etc. to have
their suits made to measure. From late 1963 winkle pickers
had the toes chopped and became chisel toes. The Mods were
by now wearing penny loafers and moccasin styles. Alas
winkle pickers were out...
Winkle pickers again made, yet another comeback in the
late 70s and 80s with the punks, Rockabillies and
latterly with the Goths. These shoes simply will not
rollover and die!
Today, Winklepickers are once again popular with certain
segments of the populace. This includes some well known
members of bands and celebrities, as well as the vogue
Goths and Punks. The style has never disappeared
completely though, as revivalists have always worn them.
However it is very difficult to get true Winklepickers and
any secondhand versions are like gold dust. Some very
dubious versions of this cult footwear are on offer but in
general are absolute crap.
Some high street chains
are now turning out narrow toe shoes, but they are
certainly not winkle pickers! However the modern male
seems to be looking fondly at the winkle picker look !
Fortunately or unfortunately depending on your outlook on
life I have now reproduced what I term the real winkle
picker. I was 13 years old when they first entered my life
(three years before hearing about this new group called
the Beatles) the year was 1960.
I have been in the
forefront of fashion all my life. (What a sad bastard I
am) I have now gone back to my grass roots and reproduced
winkle pickers as they should be ! This is where I came
in!!!!! I must confess however I have changed one thing
and that is, these winkle pickers will not give you the
same ugly mother f
toes as I have.
My winkle pickers are
made in the home of footwear, Italy and anyone wearing
them will be amazed at the comfort...I really cannot be
responsible for crippling another generation! Robert