News & Opinion

Shoe business

British MP’s Star Wars shoe meltdown: how Angela Rayner became ‘Shoebacca’

The Daily Beast

November 9, 2015

The shoes are, it must be said, extremely groovy. A standing R2-D2 forms the heel, while the main body of the shoes is a luxuriant sweep of blue and florals.

Angela Rayner, a British MP wanted a pair of these beauties, designed by Dan Sullivan and stocked by Irregular Choice in Brighton—and, in petulant pursuit of her desire, has ended up being the focus of her own mini-scandal. She has even been nicknamed “Shoebacca.”

Rayner thought, as reported by the Sun, she was on a pre-order list for the shoes, which cost $290 a pair, but no.

The only way to get her beloved R2-D2s—which does rhyme with Jimmy Choos—was to queue for them.

Having called the store on launch day Rayner was informed they had sold out.

Rayner then wrote to the store directly to complain over her treatment, and she did so, imperiously, on House of Commons-headed notepaper.

The note—complete with its intimidating letterhead—could have been summarized as “Don’t you know who I am?”

She wrote to the store: “I have been a customer of yours for several years and have bought many thousands of pounds worth of shoes.

“This is not the sort of service I expect. I have only ever bought your shoes and I am loath to do so again or recommend your shoes to others.

“I am writing to let you know that treating customers in that way will only cost you more in the long term.”

Daniel Theophanides, the store’s retail manager, told the Sun he had not taken a pre-order from Mrs. Rayner, and that everyone had to wait in line for them at the store’s five UK branches.

He was “shocked,” he added that she had used the Commons-headed notepaper. Rayner’s note had been “cruel,” he said.

He still tracked down a pair for her—in China—but when he called her to tell her the good news she began “ranting” and hung up on him.

She could have chosen from a wonderful range of other footwear—a store spokesman told The Daily Beast that the Brighton-based Sullivan designs 300 different styles a year, and you can see his vivid range on their site, including the Star Wars-themed Darth Vader flats, and Death Star wedge heels to name a few. The ‘Chewbacca’ boots—very furry, naturally—are to die for.

The Sun reported that Rayner, MP for Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, had attacked the store on Twitter (“Shame they sold my pair after I waited months on their list & been a customer 4 years. Poor customer service.”) although later released a statement to the Manchester Evening News saying a “regrettable” breakdown in communication had apparently taken place with the store.

She added: “My complaint was about the poor level of customer service and the attitude of a member of staff, who appears to be seeking headlines in tabloid newspapers rather than concentrating on providing a decent service to customers.”

Will Rayner, aka “Shoebacca,” finally get her pair of R2-D2 shoes, then?

An assistant at the store told The Daily Beast that Theophanides, the store’s manager, was “on leave” and unavailable for comment.

A store spokesman did not sound hopeful. “I would think she wouldn’t,” he said. “She slammed the phone on Daniel while he was speaking to her, and now it’s escalated into this.”

The spokesman also didn’t sound too bothered.

Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Whoopi Goldberg are fans of Sullivan’s imaginative and striking shoes—indeed, Goldberg, the spokesman said, wore a pair of his ‘light saber’-heeled shoes recently on The View.