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The Theresa May effect

2nd October 2013 Print

In the wake of the Autumn Party Conferences, it seems Home Secretary Theresa May has become an unlikely style icon as high street retailer Debenhams has today reported a 60% increase in sales of its Leopard print ballerina pumps.

Mrs May, renowned for her love of eye-catching footwear, was first spotted sporting a pair of Leopard print kitten heels at the Tory party conference back in 2002, promoting multiple headlines and praise from fashion commentators.

Since then she has been photographed wearing a variety of animal skins and footwear with distinctive details at various party conferences including a pair of Diamanté encrusted lace-ups at Monday’s Tory conference, Zebra print heels in 2003, Snakeskin courts in 2011 and most notably, a pair of Leopard print Wellies at the Winter Gardens in 2007 to highlight a community gardening project.

Leopard print pumps are currently outselling their black counterparts by 3 to 1, proving that we are moving away from black in search of a new classic, bosses at Debenhams have dubbed this ‘The Theresa May Effect’.

Natelle Baddeley, Head of Design, Accessories said ‘Leopard print was once seen as very loud and harsh, it’s reinvention as a classic print has been extremely well received by our customers who see a printed shoe as a great finishing touch to an outfit.”

Flat pumps originated from a woman's soft ballet slipper and have existed since the 16th century. Popular with both men and women in medieval times, Ballet flats first received a fashion boost when Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn wore them with skinny jeans in the Oscar nominated musical ‘Funny Face’ in 1957.

The UK’s new found ‘Leopard love in’ has also spiralled into clothing, with a Debenhams animal print pencil skirt seeing an overwhelming  81% increase in sales and an animal print Bodycon dress receiving a 27% sales boost.

Once the favourite of brash soap characters such as; Bet Lynch, Alexis Carington and Pat Butcher, Leopard print has since received a luxury makeover thanks to its resurgence on international catwalks.

Fashion Designer Ben de Lisi said “Leopard print has been a huge hit on and off the catwalks for the last few seasons; it’s the must-have print that works in a variety of colour palettes and allows you to make a bold yet classy statement, giving you a real confidence boost.”

A selection of Leopard print shoes starting from £12.80, are available at Debenhams instore and online: