Tom Kilgallon is the founder of the limited-edition shoe company, Tom Kilgallon, London.
As well as founding Tom Kilgallon, London, Tom has also brought the East German Zeha-Berlin range of original 1950s design sports shoes to the U.K.
Tom was the sort of child who liked to take his toys apart to see how they worked, so training as a shoemaker was a natural career choice. He then opened his own business in the fashionable King’s Road, Chelsea. Back in the 90s, it was full of independent boutiques and an amazing place to work in. After some happy years there, Tom took a sabbatical and went to university where he gained a B.A. in History, (Classical to Medieval). In 2000, he started working in Chapel Market, Islington. ‘I find it my sort of place.’
Tom discovered and fell in love with Zeha-Berlin. He now has the exclusive rights to the brand in the U.K. and sells them, alongside shoes of his own design, at 22 Chapel Market, where he works as a shoe maker and repairer.
Every other Sunday, Tom converts his workplace into a Pop-Up shoe boutique and displays the whole Zeha-Berlin collection. In the New Year, Tom plans to take his Pop-Up shops on the road, and his first stop in March will be back in the Kings Road.
We caught up with Tom for the latest in our ‘My London’ interview series.
I love the vibrancy and diversity of Islington; it’s a place where people from all backgrounds live, work, shop and socialise together. If culture’s your thing, there’s top quality theatre at the Almeida, dance at Sadler’s Wells, and music in dozen of venues. From its restaurants and bars, to its shops and markets, Islington is never boring.
Favourite place for brunch
I have no time to brunch.
Best coffee in London
It’s got to be Illy’s Italian coffee; I like its smoothness. I often go to Illy’s coffee kiosk outside Angel Tube station, it’s a great place to watch the world go by and to ponder on what women will cramp their feet into for the sake of fashion.
Favourite gallery or museum
The Natural History Museum, especially the Geological Hall. I love seeing precious stones, especially emeralds, in their natural form
Tell us a secret
I believe that the Statute of Limitations still holds.
Favourite place to shop
I’ve just bought a Magliamo vintage cycling jersey.
Favourite place to find inspiration
I am a History graduate, so for me, it has to be the British Library. I enjoy reading through old papers and articles, not only for the styles and fashions of bygone days, but for also for the stories of people overcoming adversity, and their triumphs and tragedies. All human life is there. The Ancient Greek historian, Thucydides, believed that history always repeats itself, and I agree with him; it is certainly true in the fashion world.
Best London destination for a date
I enjoy going to the theatre with my wife. Recently, we saw that interesting black comedy, The Lieutenant of Inishmore.
St James’s Park. I confess I like watching the ducklings in spring.
Favourite food market
I love the Farmers Market held every Sunday in Islington’s Chapel Market. It sells everything from fresh organic bread, to free range eggs, to venison, to traditional British cheeses. It’s also right outside my shop which is handy.
Your sanctuary in the city
For me, it’s sitting on the steps of the Japanese Buddhist Peace Pagoda in Battersea Park. It’s a place of calm amid the bustle of London life; good for letting the stress of everyday life drain away.
What inspires you
I have always found History inspiring. It shows me that there is nothing new in fashion, just a remodelling of old styles with a new twist. That’s why I love the Zeha range; you can’t beat original designs, quality materials and traditional craftsmanship.
This season I’m loving
I am excited by the retro feel of some of this season’s designs. For me, quality of design, in all its guises, never goes out of fashion.