November 23, 2016
For such a personal item, few other industry’s best demonstrate the fickle nature of fashion than that of footwear. Admittedly, our shoe size most certainly don’t change past the age of around 18, alas the internet informs that the average man can own as much as 220 pairs of shoes in a lifetime. Whilst every shoe isn't designed, nor intended, to be maintained forever, the focus of this piece rests firmly upon shoes that are designed and made to last.
Cornerstone to any mans wardrobe, classic Derby shoes are a necessary footwear must. Whatever the occasion, it can be said that a pair of well made leather brogues creates confidence for the wearer through time tested style and classic welted construction.
Globally renowned, Loake Shoemakers are based in Kettering, Northamptonshire and are responsible for the production of more than 50 million pairs of handmade leather shoes. Founded in 1880, the fifth generation, family-run factory was founded by three brothers. Having worked in surrounding shoe making factories, each brother had enough experience to start their own company. Their collective of skills were hence consolidated, marking the beginning of their family named footwear legacy.
To this present day inside the Kettering factory, each pair of Loake shoes undertakes the same skilled processes that the John, Thomas and William imparted since opening their doors. Built around moulds known as “lasts”, each shoe is made from 75 components via 200 operations, passing through the hands of more than 130 skilled craftsmen. Core to the tradition of leather shoemaking is the application of the Goodyear Welt. This conjoining strip is machine stitched to shoe ‘upper’ additionally enabling the attachment of the sole. This junction of components not only aids the quality of construction but reparability of the shoe as a whole. As opposed to being glued, the robust double stitching can be unpicked by a skilled worker from the welt for re-soling. It’s from this process that makes for a truly timeless footwear design, one that can last you for many years through enduring quality and timeless aesthetics.
The feature image at the top of this piece pays personal homage to my own pair of Tan leather ‘Ashby’ brogues which are reportedly a fond favourite. Arguably a design classic, these can be worn in most eventualities. Adaptable, smart yet casual, most importantly comfortable, these shoes impart the same feeling when you make a lifelong friend.
From the Kettering factory, Loake shoes can be found in more than 2,000 shops across 60 countries. With more than 200 shoe models in varying colours, in varying sizes, the collection is extensive. We suggest you head over to their website where you can browse their story, traditional process and of course their incredible handmade footwear.
Loake Shoemakers Website
NATIVE is a blog series intended to showcase select brands who implement product manufacture here in the UK. Admittedly, not all aspects of every product can be made here, however we are most interested in those that can.
UK production has changed dramatically over the decades. Like every industry, embracing change is vital, not just to survive but to thrive in conjunction with social, economic and technological advancement.
Recognition of businesses, old and new, that implement outright or even partial local production is something we are genuinely passionate about. As designers, it is our belief that people should know more about how, why and where great products are made in the UK.
NATIVE is our way of sharing this information.
"Every contrivance of man, every tool, every instrument, every utensil, every article designed for use, of each and every kind, evolved from very simple beginnings."
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