A fashion designer who hails from Bristol and has used the city’s architecture as his inspiration.

Ross Saunders grew up in Filton but is now trying to take his self-titled designer shoe label Ross Oliver to the global stage. The 25-year-old took a drastic detour towards fashion when he was coming to the end of his Bachelor of Science degree at Middlesex University.

“During third year of uni in the lead up to graduation I realised that working a normal job wasn’t what I wanted to do,” said Ross. 

One of his designs is inspired by one of Bristol's great landmarks, which is replicated on the shoe in the form of an 18-karat gold buckle. The official name of the shoe is the Brycgian Buckle loafer. Brycgian is old English for bridge. Ross spent a lot of time admiring Clifton Suspension Bridge when he was younger so decided to incorporate it into his work.

“I used to cycle and train on the downs near the bridge. I would always stop to take a drink and just look over at the bridge,” he said. “Sometimes I’d even sit and watch the sun go down. I realised how important the bridge was for the city and thought about how I could replicate it in a shoe.”

Ross’ designs currently include two slippers, a dress slipper, a building and boat inspired loafer and the leather bridge buckle loafer. All of the shoes are handmade in Britain, and a year into the project Ross has his prototypes.

The mould for the golden Clifton Suspension Bridge buckle was handmade by a blacksmith. However, being handmade on home soil makes them very expensive to manufacture.

Ross had three pairs of the bridge buckle shoe and slippers made, and one of the dress shoe at a collective cost of £7,000. However, the designer insists the quality is worth the cost. He said: “It goes back to the traditional manufacturing techniques of years ago.”

Ross is now focussing on next year’s spring/summer fashion season, with talks lined up with Harvey Nichols and Harrods. Ross is aiming high: “Ideally it would be a globally recognised brand, using Bristol and Global architecture to influence design,” he added.

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