Crockett and Jones Shoes

Style: Inside the Crockett and Jones Factory

Guest post by Steffanie Parkes

Sat waiting for Crockett and Jones’s Sales Director Peter Reed, I glanced around the same showroom where the Jones family received HRH Prince Charles just three months before. Surrounded by rails that homed almost every style and colour of shoe that Crockett and Jones have ever made, the antique feel of the factory suggested it was much the same as it was fifty years ago.

Peter Read - Crocket and Jones

Still based in their original factory and producing all of their Goodyear Welted shoes from Northampton, Crockett and Jones have been producing quality shoes since 1879 and are now in their fifth generation of being a family owned business. With shops in London, Birmingham, Paris, New York and Brussels the company are not only at home on Jermyn Street but are worldwide.

As Sales director it is Peter Reed’s job is to liaise with customers and buyers in the UK, Ireland, Scotland and the Far East including Japan. Having worked for Crockett and Jones for 13 years there is very little he doesn’t know about the production of Crockett and Jones’s Goodyear Welted Shoes and why they’re coveted by consumers worldwide. He says, “The strength of Crockett and Jones is that the world wants quality merchandise. One of the reasons that HRH Prince Charles visited this year was our heritage connection. The fact that we still make shoes in absolutely the proper way and we’re still trying to recruit young people to teach them skills reflects this. When I started in the shoe industry, there were about 150 factories in this area all predominantly making men’s shoes. Now there’s about a dozen left and generally, those that are left are the ones that maintain very high standards and high quality.”

Crockett and Jone Factory

There are over 200 processes that go into making Crockett and Jones’s Goodyear Welted shoes many of which require the skills of experienced clickers and machinists. Peter describes why Goodyear Welted shoes are different to others found on the high street. He says, “Generally I would say that the shoes that you wear are cemented, that means that the shoes are just glued together. Whereas Goodyear Welted shoes go through a rather complicated process where by the soles are stitched to a welt, which has been stitched onto the uppers. It’s a very traditional way and it’s also the best quality way in terms of the shoes quality, and for the shoes lasting, their durability, and the repairability of the shoes.” For extra comfort a layer of cork is also used in between the welt and the upper of the shoes, this helps the foot to mould to the shoe more effectively.

It’s not only production that makes shoes desirable to the consumer; shoes must also have the right style and fit. In order to create the right balance it is crucial that new designs are tested before being sent into production. One of the most important parts of a shoes design is that it has a well structured ‘last’, this is the mould that gives the shoe its shape and helps to guide workers.

With most of their shoes now being sold to export, Crockett and Jones have seen demand for their shoes increase. Once making 1,700 pairs of shoes a week, the factory must now produce 3,000 a week to keep up with orders. Peter explains that one limitation to the company’s growth is a lack of young talent in the industry. He says, “We have to train people and we’re doing our best to do that. It’s not easy to get young people to work in a shoe factory but we’re still managing to increase our production.”

Although Crockett and Jones produce both women’s and men’s shoes Peter does not think that the company will focus on the production of women’s shoes. He says, “As far as women’s shoes are concerned, we probably make 98% men’s shoes and 2% women’s shoes. There is certainly a demand for women’s shoes of this type, but when we can’t fully cater for the demand we have for men’s shoes it doesn’t seem workable to spend money on machinery to develop production we cannot sustain. Also, the fickle finger of fashion is more a part of the demand of women’s shoes. It wouldn’t be sensible for us to pursue women’s shoes and invest more equipment to make ladies shoes when we can’t make enough for the current market.”

Buying a pair of Crockett and Jones shoes comes with a fair expectation, typically most of Crockett and Jones’s shoes retail at £300 or above and the factory offers a repair service for £120 per pair of shoes. However, with demand out weighing the production capabilities of their historical factory it’s sure to be an investment for anybody looking for their next pair of shoes.

Style: MLPR Day at the Westbury Hotel: Tatty Devine, Hannah Warner, Eley Kishimoto and more…

Bold designs from Ingenue

Guest post by Nadia Ramoul 

As a gal who clocks in at just over five feet tall, fashionable clothes are not my friend. While my tall chums float gracefully like maxi-dress clad angels I lurk hunched – no, not hunched, standing perfectly erect but you would be forgiven for viewing me as hunched – in oversized knitwear scowling and ruing my feeble genetics.

Thank the lord above, then, for accessories! They are my chums, my constant companions, my allies. You can’t be too short for a statement necklace, hoo no. I was overjoyed then, when invited to the MLPR Press Day to have an exclusive look at some of the next few seasons items…

Concentration face. I am honestly excited..

The press day took place in Mayfair’s gorgeous Westbury hotel, a place so upmarket it took three guys to open the main door. Honestly. Free champagne flowed, manicures were had and staff were energetic and friendly. The stalls were a well-placed mixture of mid-range price bags, shoes, jewellery, underwear and clothing.

Of course my first port of call was the lairy perspex explosion that is Tatty Devine. I love this stuff, truly and their 2013 Spring / Summer collection is a vibrant and unique collection true to their playful style. This season’s pieces are more muted in wood and honey perspex with animal motifs and shapes, very autumnal and warm. Some of their classic items were also on display including a wooden version of the ‘Argh’ necklace, above (please ignore my looming face and obnoxious iphone case…)

Dawww, how cute. Tatty Devine Fox Brooch

They also had a lucky dip box in which I got a cute little gingerbread heart necklace, thanks guys!

Score!

Like a big horrible magpie I made a beeline for the next shiniest things in the room, cheerful little clutch bags from Wilbur and Gussie. Themed with a different animal as the centrepiece for each clasp, these little bags are fantastic. In bold colours, patterns or shimmering metallics there is a wide variety in the Spring / Summer collection. My favourite was the ‘Coco,’ in spangly silver glitter with a huge gold bug clasp. Ooof.

The ‘Coco’ clutch. Wilbur and Gussie

Next to this was jewellery more to my everyday taste from Hannah Warner, inspired by taxidermy and ancient egyptian artefacts. Taxidermy style is pretty big at the moment, so you won’t neccessarily feel like a hulking great big goth if you step out with teeny replica lamb skulls dangling from your neck. And even if you do it can only be a good thing, right? Right.

Hannah Warner Egyptian beetle rings

Hannah Warner’s pieces are absolutely beautiful, referencing death, decay and natural forms in solid, bulky rings and bracelets that really stand out. Her collections follow on organically from eachother and are truly fantastic. These designs can be ordered from her site here: http://www.hannahwarner.com/site/ and I would you advise you do so as my photos don’t do them justice.

Claws

While that was pretty much my lot for bizarre accessories, honourable mentions must go to incredible Eley Kishimoto and Ingenue for their lovely bold patterns and floaty garments in styles that may even suit us more diminutive girls. Hooray!

Argh, how nice is this?

In particular I loved the Eley Kishimoto cat prints, perfect for a more cute Halloween-y look. After providing patterns for Marc Jacobs and Alexander McQueen, their collection in silks and unisex items was full of daring repeat pattern designs with colour blocks and wide shapes. While the price tag on these pieces is pretty high, fear not, there will be a Clarks collaboration coming soon with shoes under a hundred quid.

Eley Kishimoto x Clarks collaboration

While I would love to yammer on about all the lovely things I saw, we would be here for hours yet and I fear I may end up sounding like quite a tit. But suffice it to say I had a rollicking good time checking out these lovely collections and my Christmas list has grown by a grotesque amount as a direct result. I am steeled for profound disappointment.

Thanks to MLPR for inviting me along!

Twitter – @NadiaReads

For more photos from this event please check out my Pinterest board: http://pinterest.com/nadiaramoul/ml-pr-press/