It was 1967, the summer of love – an unrepeatable period of time that captured a certain innocence and freedom that was to be unleashed throughout every aspect of life.
As the world of fashion seemed to change with every intake of breath, a considerable number of small shoe-making businesses were beginning to spring up in and around London’s East End, adding their own take on the sixties’ scene.
Before the launch of his own shoe manufacturing business in the early seventies, Matt Barclay-Black was a freelance designer, offering his professional services to those ambitious entrepreneurs by cutting patterns and designing footwear to meet the demands of the high street outlets. He would occasionally create simple but effectively styled strappy-type sandals, thus enabling those busy little workshops to change around their production methods, virtually within minutes.
These were the real pioneers of the fashion shoe trade, as they had not only a passion for leadership, with fresh, trendy styles, but also the enthusiasm to experiment with the avant-garde materials of the day, such as denim, hessians, and cottons, providing a welcome alternative to conventional leather footwear.
But whatever became of those intrepid little shoe makers? And whatever became of the once-mighty British footwear industry?
Matt genuinely believes that government subsidies should be made readily available, upon a vast scale, to encourage a new wave of ambitious, experienced people, both young and not so young, to design and produce true British-made fashion items right across the spectrum. Matt believes that it is important not only to provide the funding, but also to provide ongoing support in order to help revive the whole of British industry.
He says, “It’s long overdue for any government of the day to at last grow a proud British backbone by drastically reducing the flood of all imported products and to encourage our own Great Britons to once again produce the very best in the world.”
Alongside this piece of pictorial theatre [see photograph], which clearly portrays his desire to promote the British footwear industry, Matt – now a ‘golden oldie’ – hopes also to raise the profile of his other long-term passions. The early stages of a campaign structure is already underway to help bring about further awareness of the continuing and essential needs of carers and the unquestionable task of responsibly protecting every dignity of the elderly and the vulnerable. Matt has been an unpaid carer at home for many years.
Matt is in the process of planning an audio-visual music production to help raise funds for the campaign, under the title of Matt Black & his Black Cats. Matt’s friend and colleague Nick Roll, a musician and recording engineer, has composed the music to Matt’s own lyrics.
“I don’t profess to be a talented singer or even a good musician,” says Matt, “but I only hope that this humble attempt from a ‘golden oldie’ will bring some form of light-hearted encouragement to show that there is someone out there who really cares enough to try to make a difference … maybe with a favourable outcome.”
Please note that Matt Barclay-Black makes no personal financial gain from the Campaign Project or from any fund-raising event. The campaign Project is a strictly not-for-profit organisation.
Photograph supplied by Terence J Burchell, photographer / film maker