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: ZDDZ London – SS13

zddz

Hot label alert! ZDDZ London. First things first, before even writing this article as soon as I saw the word ZDDZ I went to the BF, “How would you say ZDDZ?” and the bf (who works in wealth communications and is very corporate) said “Obviously like a bee, ZzzzDDzzzZ.” Scroll to me looking bemused at a) the name of this new, awesome designer from the Endzzz’ (East End for those who don’t know) and b) confused because who knew my BF had swag. Regardless to say, if you don’t know how to say the name ZDDZ, remember the name well now because their latest SS13 collection looks polished, evocative and set to be a big name in the fashion future.

ZDDZ’s SS13 collection is fricking fantastic and their claim to “remix urban impressions into a new angle of sophistication” is clearly seen in the way they intermingle hard, edgy, almost graffiti-like prints with feminine cut-out designs in sexy, slivery silk. Ahhh breathe in that sensuality.

ZDDZ - Slash tee and shorts

ZDDZ describe their SS13 collection as “a selection of pieces that are practically spray painted in chaos, throwing away feminine conventions to present daring fashion for the everyday.” Wow, heavy right. But truly their collection is so wearable right now. Okay, obviously not RIGHT now in the UK with our arctic weather, but right now in terms of spring 2013 and fashion’s movement towards an edgy yet flirty moment with clothes.  The Marni-Commes-Des-Garcon-almost-Helmut-Lang-style feel to ZDDZ’s collection represents a design team truly on the pulse of fashion especially with style icons like Rihanna and Rita Ora paving the way in this peek-a-boo / sheer/ skimpy trend explosion, and who are easily envisaged in any of the ZDDZ collection.

Even if you aren’t brave enough go full-fashion-hog with the skimpiness of the silk shorts and cutaway and the print, just mixing some of the graphic ‘chaos’-style print with an everyday look will immediately bring you into the fashion now. Likewise you could wear tights with the shorts and just have your top half exposed with the cut-outs because, we all know from watching shows like Mr. Selfridge, being a little flirty with fashion is so en vogue and worthwhile, not to mention who doesn’t like a nice sheer bit of flesh on show. Heyyyy.

Go check out ZDDZ London at http://zddz.co.uk/ and follow me for more talk of the love of sheer, short shorts and the like @BowTieBoy_CD.

Style: Mary Katrantzou AW12

All hail Queen Mary. Over the last few seasons Mary Katrantzou has emerged as one of London’s leading young designers, her innovative use of prints and structural dresses setting fashion lover’s hearts everywhere fluttering. Her recent collaboration with Topshop took her to the masses, with the Oxford Street store collection stripped bare almost immediately.

For AW12, Katrantzou showed seven colour groups, each based on everyday objects. The yellow section was inspired by the humble HB pencil and included a dress actually embroidered with yellow pencils. We also saw typewriters, hedgerows and teapots used for prints: a fabulously eclectic collage of the everyday made surreal. “It was about showing product placement through different colours,” the designer explained after the show. “I chose the items per colour: it was important to me to associate colours with one everyday, mundane item.”

Katrantzou is perhaps best known for her SS11 tulip shaped dresses and we saw a progression of her structural technique with clever capped waists and sleeves. She also branched away from structure with some gorgeously girly floaty chiffon dresses, showing that she is definitely not a one hit wonder.

The biggest success of this collection is that even though it is made up of barmy references, it looked sophisticated and precise, rather than thrown together. We are used to seeing visionary designers do crazy and abstract and ending up completely unwearable but with Katraztzou, every single piece just really works. The best part is that Katrantzou seems a really warm and genuine person and always engages with her fans over Twitter, which is really endearing. I just can’t wait to see what she’s going to do next!

All pictures from Style.com

Style: McQ AW12

While the menswear at McQ AW12 was beautifully tailored, this collection was really all about the girls. Taking the label’s dark romantic heritage as a starting point, Creative Director Sarah Burton invited us into her stunning winter fairy tale vision. As the models crunched over golden leaves, we were presented with a collection that started with severe military outerwear and progressed through embroidered velvet skirts and dresses to the grand finale of tulle ballgowns.

This was the first time the McQueen label has shown in its hometown and the first ever catwalk show for the diffusion line McQ. Still riding high from an amazing 2011, Burton showed us a brand that is confident and strong; in keeping with its heritage, but looking to the future. Only six years old, McQ is their affordable line but the stunning detailing in embroidery and embellishment, and precise cutting showed that affordable can still be luxury.

The New Look shaping in the ballgowns showed a significant departure from last season’s main line collection, which was more architectural. This season was all about  exploring the balance between hard and soft femininity. The last two looks were matching black and white tulle ballgowns with lace overlay in winter florals and brought to mind the evil sorceress and the princess from a fairy tale. As the last model, Kristen McMenamy, made her way back, she grabbed a rope from under the leaves and followed it to a little hut in an illuminated forest at the back of the runway. Was this the woodcutters shed? As she left, we heard dance music coming from backstage. At McQ the happy ending wouldn’t be complete without a good party.

All pictures from Style.com