You are regular customer at Louis Vuitton. What is it about the brand that appeals to you?
I first walked into a Louis Vuitton store in Paris in 2004. Everything about that store struck me as quality and class. I'll never forget the impression it made on me. I was actually freezing and wanted to buy a jacket. The staff were amazing. I walked out with a jacket and a hoodie. Yes, I bought a hoodie at Louis Vuitton. Eight years on I still wear that jacket; it still looks almost new. A good lesson in buying quality.
What attracted you to a pair of LV custom-made shoes?
I'd never had a custom-made pair of shoes before but I am lucky enough to have custom-made rugby boots by Adidas. I've learnt what a luxury that is on the field, so when the opportunity to be fitted for a pair of Louis Vuitton shoes came along I jumped at the chance. In my line of work your feet take a bit of a beating, so it's really important to wear comfortable, supportive shoes; and these take comfort to a whole new level. Also, having your own initials on the shoe is pretty cool too.
Talk us through the process to get them made.
It was really tough deciding exactly what I wanted. I went into the amazing Louis Vuitton Maison in Sydney, unsure of exactly what I wanted but I had lots of help from Diego, an Italian man who works in the store and specialises in these custom-made shoes. I wanted a shoe that I could wear out often, so that's why I decided on the suede material. The next job was choosing the shape and style. There are so many different options I found this tough. After that it was all about deciding about finer details, like what stitching and colour I wanted. The whole process took about an hour and a half but I wasn't in any rush as I was having fun and wanted to make the most of this opportunity.
How do they make you feel?
I remember the first time I put them on after waiting for them to be made. They just felt amazing. Normally dress shoes take some time to wear in, but not these. Knowing the process that went into designing and making these shoes, you do feel pretty special when wearing them. Can't say I walk any different but it does give you confidence wearing shoes of such quality.
What do you wear with your shoes?
I chose a brown suede shoe because it can be worn with many different outfits from casual to more dressy. They can be worn with a nice pair of jeans and T-shirt or shirt, or dressed up with a nice clean, grey suit.
My mother used to say you can tell a lot about a man by the shoes he wears. What do your LV shoes say about you?
My mum never told me about custom-made Louis Vuitton shoes but I was a messy kid, so she used to make me polish my boots. My custom-mades simply look like a great shoe. They don't scream Louis Vuitton - in fact, the branding is incredibly discreet. If you ask me what they say about me? I think they say I love shoes.
How style-conscious are you?
I definitely have an interest in fashion. I genuinely admire style in other people. I get to travel a lot for work and have spent a bit of time in France where the people-watching is pretty impressive. I like to looked groomed and wear clothes and shoes that are me.
What is your most treasured item?
Apart from my new custom-made shoes, it would have to be the Louis Vuitton jacket I mentioned earlier. I still wear it as much now as I did when I first bought it.
What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Sometimes I just get lazy and can be a bit casual. It's just easier at times because I have a pretty busy lifestyle.
Apart from your rugby uniform, what is your favourite outfit?
It would have to be the Crane Brothers morning suit they made me for my wedding. It not only has special significance but it was also exactly what I was after. It looked and fitted perfectly.
What is your favourite fancy dress costume?
Ha ha. I do quite like my dress-ups and have plenty to choose from at home, including most superhero outfits - but it would have to be my Jack Sparrow pirate costume. Don't ask me why.
What would you never be seen dead in and why?
Not a fan of Crocs, even though some people rave how comfortable they are.
What is next on your fashion wish-list and why?
I'd love to go to the Louis Vuitton men's collections in Paris or Milan one year. I'd like to watch the people attending and to see the entire collection at once. Ask me after that what's on my wish list ...
What tips would you give NZ guys when it comes to fashion?
I'm no expert, so I wouldn't want to tell anyone else what to wear but I can say dress for yourself. But if your wife hates something, take it off, she's probably right anyway.
Anything else you'd like to add?
When I walked into Louis Vuitton in Paris all those years ago, I never thought I would walk out owning something. I kind of assumed those high fashion labels were not wearable in our small country in the South Pacific. What I learned was great salespeople don't tell you you look good in something if you don't, they know their product and their brand. They sussed me out immediately and I left with two items I have more than had my money out of. I would rather buy one jacket I love and wear it over and over again. I've been lucky enough to go back to Paris many times since since and each time I've gone back to that store and I will continue to do so.
* Louis Vuitton made to order shoes range from A$1250 ($1618) for calf skin through to A$13,600 for ankle boots made from alligator skin. For more images, visit facebook.com/NZHeraldViva