As celebrity fathers vie to be their son’s best friend, lets meet one who found an innovative way to get closer to his with a new range of matching father-and-son shoes under the brand name Jack&Me: Andrew Marshall has been inspired by his relationship with his son as ‘the precious time that Dads have with their sons… it is an emotional thing’.
The products themselves are striking enough. Marshall Senior and Junior are often modelling their Jack&Me shoes, classic in style, but with a contemporary twist and a touch of red in the sole and back tag. But this bold, cross-generational venture into the shoe business is about something much more than footwear – “the brand is about the emotional connection between fathers and sons, those shared experiences we have.” The concept of Jack&Me is aiming to chime with a more contemporary approach to hands-on fatherhood that owes something to David Beckham, forever seen out and about with Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz and Harper more their older mate than their dull old dad.
So much so that the word “Dad” is now under threat. Millennial hipsters see “Dad” as well past its sell‑by date. Instead, they want to be known as “Papa”.
Andrew Marshall is definitely on trend, but he still feels there are distinct areas for mothers and fathers. And that is what he has tried to capture with Jack&Me. “I didn’t want to just speak to young sons. It could also be about me and my own father and the shared experiences he and I had. The precious time dads have with sons – it is an emotional thing. I’m busy and Jack has a busy life. The time we can spend together is precious”. Andrew and Jack certainly do all the time-honoured male bonding rituals at the weekend – they head off for home matches at
Fulham FC or go to training and lunch. But there is a new and suitably modern dimension to the father-son relationship, too.
The idea behind Jack&Me began with one of those childhood moments that children and parents still dread: buying school shoes. But for Andrew and Jack, it has been entirely different: “It was a few years ago, Jack was five, and we headed off to all the usual places to find suitable shoes. It had seemed straightforward enough. We were looking for a pair of shoes that we both liked,” says Andrew. The search, however, did not go well. “In shop after shop,” Andrew recalls “we couldn’t find anything.” Instead of a standoff, though, they decided they would design their own line of shoes. “I’ve spent all my working life in sales and marketing for luxury brands like Gucci, Dunhill and Mont Blanc. Because of that background, I have sat down sometimes with a blank sheet of paper and thought, how can I create my own brand? But it has always felt like me forcing an idea, which never seems very natural. This particular idea came so naturally because it was rooted in our life as father and son.”
Work-life balance is top of the agenda for the papa-dad generation, so when it came to the three years it has taken to get Jack&Me from concept to finished product, there were plenty of golden opportunities for Andrew and Jack to go to the office together. After Andrew commissioned sketches of the big-his and little-his shoes, for example, the two of them would have a discussion. “We did disagree sometimes,” Andrew admits, “but then we’d talk it through. It became a chance for me to pass on my enthusiasms to Jack, just as we share an enthusiasm for, say, football. It was also about sharing values – that the shoes are well-made stylish, not purely functional, but also much more than that.”
“I wanted to create something about fathers and sons sharing more than the mundane day-to-day routines of get up, have breakfast, go to school, come home. “I’m busy, Jack has a busy life, so the time we have together is precious.
Rather than just talking about his lessons, or how many goals he conceded, it gives us something more to talk about.”
find more about JACK&ME footwear https://jackandme.co.uk/who-are-jackme-people-the-factories-and-their-values/