Made In Britain: Footwear
British shoe manufacturing is steeped in history. Since WW2 many brands have moved their production overseas, however there is growing evidence of re-shoring, as manufacturers try to meet the current demand for British made Shoes.
The English county of Northamptonshire has 900 years experience in the production of leather and the making of footwear. It is still the UK’s main producer of shoes and famous for the Goodyear welted sole, which allows for multiple sole replacements.
British shoe manufacture may bring to mind the traditional shoe makers, such as Joseph Cheaney, Barker’s and Church’s. There are however many other British designers, creating styles from sports to contemporary.
This year at BoB you will find:
1. The ‘rock n roll shoe maker’ duo Jeffrey West, who name musicians as their inspiration. Their stores can be found globally yet they still manufacture in Northampton.
2. Solovair were the first company to produce Dr Marten boots with the famous air cushion sole.
These were called ‘Dr Martens by Solovair’ and were manufactured in the UK for 35 years. Production of the Doc Marten brand was moved overseas, however Solovair produce a similar boot, enhanced with a ‘soft suspension’ sole. All their footwear is Goodyear welted. Solovair is an abbreviation for ‘sole of air’.
3. Practical and chic Cocorose collaborate with The Royal Ballet and Liberty.
4. Justin Deakin has spent decades building relationships with suppliers. His shoes are produced in the best English factories using British produced materials.
5. Designer Caterina Belluardo combines vibrant colour and texture in her unisex handcrafted footwear.
6. Stoke Newington based Thomas Rowe creates bespoke shoes in unique colour combinations. All his shoes are ‘blake stitched’, meaning the sole is sewn to the upper. This technique provides maximum flexibility and gives a lighter weight to the shoe.
7. James Kearns’ designs are hand made in East London using traditional techniques and very little machinery.
8. Walsh have been making footwear for track, field, rugby and boxing since 1961. Their current collection includes this vegan shoe.
9. The engaging and unusual use of colour, combined with classic styling at Yull, means the brand lives up to the founders motto of ‘style over fashion’.
10. Having bought a well made pair of British shoes it is worth investing in their care. A shoe care role from Foster and Sons of Jermyn Street and a pair of cedar wood shoe trees from Joseph Cheaney & Sons, will help you maintain a premium appearance.
Article by Stylist and Blogger Alix Waterhouse