The Poppy Barley Story: Traditional Craft Meets Modern Style

PoppyBarley Made to Measure Footwear, Oh My! Handmade

Last time we saw you, we were chatting CREATIVEstyle and Poppy Barley’s made to measure boots  (did you see OMHG editor Jessika rocking The Everyday City Boot in Kaki?).

Today, we want the Oh My! Handmade Goodness community to get a behind-the-scenes look at Poppy Barley’s custom ballet flats—from initial sketches, to production at our studios in Mexico, and onto your one-of-a-kind feet.

PoppyBarley Made to Measure Footwear, Oh My! Handmade


There is nothing more custom than the human body. Yet today, footwear is mass-manufactured using only one measurement: foot length. And so, as women, we usually settle for boots and shoes that fit poorly. In fact, most of us don’t even know what a properly fitting shoe should feel like. In February 2012, Poppy Barley set out to change this (learn about the meaning behind our name here. Our concept is the first of its kind in North America: you customize your design and measure yourself in less than 10 minutes, and we deliver handcrafted, perfectly fitted boots.

Last fall, we launched online with a small collection of classic, made to measure boots  for wide calves, boots for narrow calves, boots for wide feet, boots for different-sized feet, boots for long legs, boots for short legs—you name it. And, due to popular demand, quickly followed up with a Spring/Summer collection of custom ballet flats.

PoppyBarley Made to Measure Footwear, Oh My! Handmade


PoppyBarley Made to Measure Footwear, Oh My! Handmade


Stepping away from the assembly line and offering made to measure goods is costly and time consuming; but we believe in doing things right. Before we even hit the sketchbooks, we began to think about what kinds of problems we wanted to solve that were typical to most off-the-rack footwear—from squished toes, aching feet and blisters to rapid wear-and-tear.

Together, with vital feedback from our amazing Facebook community and our team of expert artisans in Léon, Mexico, we’ve engineered a high-quality flat shoe with a soft, flexible leather upper, a well-padded insole, arch supports, a soft leather lining, a textured rubber sole for traction, and a small heel for a little lift.

Whether you’re looking for flats for wide feet or narrow feet, our shoes are rooted in function, inspired by fashion. We believe in handcrafted, handmade goodness. From our patterns, to leather cutting, sewing, stitching and polishing, almost all of our manufacturing processes are done by hand.

PoppyBarley Made to Measure Footwear, Oh My! Handmade

Poppy Barley’s Spring/Summer 2013 Flats Collection features seven different AA-grade leathers (including Essential Black, Peony, Robin Egg, Plum Nude, Camel Suede, Black Python and Metallic Gold) and three custom ballet flat styles. Incorporating the pointed toe trend into each style, the collection features The Feminine Slipper, inspired by the Roaring ‘20s, The Modern Mary-Jane, accessorized with a dainty, removable ankle straps, and The Classic Point, which transitions seamlessly from the work to play.

Hear more from our co-founder, Justine Barber, about what went into creating our S/S ’13 Flats Collection here.


PoppyBarley Made to Measure Footwear, Oh My! Handmade PoppyBarley Made to Measure Footwear, Oh My! Handmade

Although our head office is located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, we proudly handcraft all Poppy Barley Made to Measure footwear in León, a city of two million people located in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico, approximately three hours north of Mexico City. On our website, we share our Total Manufacturing Transparency Promise, revealing factory conditions, employee wages, and team profiles, because we believe consumers should know the origins behind the products they purchase. Read about what we believe here.

PoppyBarley Made to Measure Footwear, Oh My! Handmade 14-PoppyBarley-Flats-Studio-Straps PoppyBarley Made to Measure Footwear, Oh My! Handmade A NEW STANDARD

The fun part is that you get to customize your flats by selecting your style, leather colours and hardware. The critical part is that you’re helping to revolutionize the footwear industry and set a new standard. We’re fusing generations of cordwainers (shoemakers of fine leather footwear) and technology to create luxury, handcrafted boots and shoes at an attainable price point; here, function, fashion have truly coalesced.

Thank you for sharing this deeply personal journey with us.


The Poppy Barley Team

What colour, style and hardware would you choose to customize your Poppy Barley flats?!


  1. Jess King says:

    Okay, this is interesting, the shoes are lovely. It is nice that they are paying their workers a decent wage – compared to what is available in Mexico. I guess it is better than a huge factory / sweat shop setting, but they are still going to Mexico to have these made to increase their profit margin, and if I am going to pay that much for a pair of shoes, I expect more!

    • Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Jess- I love my handmade shoes that I bought directly from artisans in Europe and Canada but I also love my Fluevogs that are made in Portugal, Mexico & Peru. I’ve found the prices & quality of Poppy Barley comparable to other designer shoes but then my Fluevogs weren’t made to my measurements! I think that outsourcing can be done creatively and ethically while supporting traditional industries in other countries like Basik 855 for example

    • Poppy Barley says:

      Hi @jess_king:disqus! Thanks for your thoughtful response – we’re so glad that you like our shoes! There’s a lot that goes into choosing suppliers and factories beyond margins. It is in León where Poppy Barley found the most talent (experienced artisans and a studio willing to venture into made to measure boots) and the most complete supply chain for our needs. All of our materials are sourced within a 36km radius, and after a global search, including Canada and the US, producing our footwear in Mexico became the best way to offer luxury, handcrafted, perfectly fitted boots and shoes and deliver in 4-8 weeks. If you have any more questions about our production practices, we are happy to chat with you! E-mail us at

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