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Crockett & Jones; The Family Shoemaking Business

To appreciate the quality of a Crockett & Jones shoe, you need to know where one comes from. Crockett & Jones’s Grade-II listed Northampton factory is where for nearly 140 years the finest materials have met the finest craftspeople, resulting in footwear of unparalleled value and quality

If shoemaking was a science, then the Crockett & Jones factory, which sits proudly among narrow terraced streets in Northampton, would look like a laboratory. There would be no great wooden floors, tread by generations of skilled craftspeople, nor would there be hulking stand-up workshop benches, where pattern cutters (Clickers) work with the finest quality leather money can buy, using blade handles passed down through generations. 

There would be no basement, full of shoemaking oddities and a makeshift air-raid shelter to keep workers safe from the blitz, nor would there be an antique wood-paneled showroom. A space which for over a century has hosted countless hours (and gallons) of afternoon tea, as generations of a family-owned business proudly present the products of the factory which hums and buzzes below. If shoemaking was a science, local craftsmen and woman would not work with the same machines that their grandmothers and grandfathers worked with, perfecting skills that money simply can not buy.

 But shoemaking is not a science. It is a craft. An intersection of art and engineering, that for 139 years through thick and thin, Crockett & Jones has sat at the forefront of. Founded in 1879, Crockett & Jones is a family-owned company which specializes in high-quality, Goodyear-welted footwear – a construction method that provides unparalleled comfort, durability and wear. Their footwear is still produced in the Perry Street factory the company’s founders built in 1890, just a decade after graduating from a smaller factory close by.

 Now into its fifth generation, Crockett & Jones remains committed to its key principles: high standards of traditional craftsmanship, quality and service. Principles which have kept generations of loyal customers returning. This dedication to service can be felt in some 13 flagship stores – London, New York, Paris, Birmingham and Brussels (to name a few) – across the globe, an exclusive online offering and in-house refurbishment service. The core family values of passion, honesty and knowledge permeate the business from the shop floor right up to the office of Managing Director Jonathan Jones.

 All of this culminates in high-quality, great-value timeless shoes. Three signature ranges of men’s footwear include: the Hand Grade Collection, Main Collection – featuring both classic and contemporary styles – and a Shell Cordovan collection. Iconic styles include Cavendish, Hallam, Alex, Pembroke, Islay, Tetbury and Lowndes and Crockett & Jones continue to innovate, launching new styles including Egerton, Lanark, Eskdale, and Hardwick. They are also launching a new collection – ‘The Black Editions’.

Crockett & Jones’s high-quality approach to its footwear has garnered some impressive fans. James Bond (Daniel Craig) wore their boots in both Skyfall and Spectre and is known to be a fan of the Tetbury and Camberley boots. The glitz and glamour of the modern age is also mirrored in the innovative and pioneering story of its history. After all, it was Crockett & Jones who manufactured the boots Ernest Shackleton wore on the Endurance expedition.

 As a testament to the quality of their footwear Crockett & Jones have been awarded the prestigious Royal Warrant by HRH. The Prince of Wales. The award marks the company out as not just a world-renowned footwear manufacturer and heritage brand, but recognises commitments to quality and sustainability. Despite all of this, the family-owned company, which comprises everyone from brothers and sisters to aunties and uncles, remains modest and driven.

All of which leads back to their beloved Perry Street factory. Largely unchanged since its inception (with fewer than five computers in the main factory building), as a single shoe passes through three floors of talented craftspeople over 200 separate operations will take place on it over an eight-week period. Each person on that labor-intensive journey of manufacturing will take immense pride in their own operation, some of them ‘artists’, others ‘engineers’, none of them scientists. 

 The result is not merely a shoe or a boot, but a work of passion, experience and heritage. To appreciate a Crockett & Jones shoe, is to know where one comes from.

Words by Davey BRETT
Image Credits courtesy of Crockett & Jones