Celebrity shoe designer Oliver Sweeney is the latest fashion name to become
a victim of the London gangs dubbed 'designer thieves'.

The London-based designer had more than £40,000-worth of shoes stolen on
route to his outlets after being shipped in from Italy where they are made.

Sweeney said: "We are still trying to track down how the shoes were stolen, and are passing over all the details to the police."

The designer estimates that more than 250 pairs of shoes have been stolen with a value of up to £195 per pair.

"Some of my customers are going to be disappointed this Christmas," he lamented. "We use the best factories in Italy, and they don't just churn them out. It'll take time to catch up with our production schedules."

Oliver Sweeney shoes are among the biggest cult labels in the UK designer men's wear industry. And some of the stolen shoes have already been offered for sale to London retailers.

Sweeney, who sells in Harvey Nichols and only opened his own Middlesex Street store this month, commented: "I guess it's a kind of back-handed compliment. When these kind of gangs, who really know their labels, are targeting you, it's a sign your brand is hot. But it's the kind of compliment I could do without."

By Peter Embling, Shoestyle.