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Essential Journal

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Every Order, Made To Order

Crown Northampton’s made-in-Britain luxury footwear offers up a masterclass in made-to-order style and ease

Footwear is to Northampton, what steel is to Sheffield, and Shakespeare is to Stratford Upon Avon. Often referred to as the spiritual home of shoes due to centuries spent perfecting the craft, the town of Northampton has been built around the footwear trade and industry. Tucked away in the winding back streets of the town, set against the backdrop of huge former shoe factories, you’ll find the busy factory workshop of Crown Northampton Shoes. The moment you set foot inside, you’re greeted with the familiar local sounds of industrial sewing machines and clicking presses being put to work on the factory floor.

The company itself was founded back in 1908 by Earnest Woodford and proudly remains in fifth-generation family ownership to this day, currently under the control of Chris Woodford – the great, great-grandson of Earnest. Originally formed as E Woodford & Sons, Crown Northampton is now the company’s flagship brand. When reviewing their range, you can see what sets Crown aside from other Northampton made footwear brands who predominantly make Goodyear Welted, formal shoes, and boots. With collections that focus on sidewall stitched sneakers made from the finest materials, alongside premium Jazz shoes with a minimal style and appeal. This approach has seen them gain huge popularity in Japan with Beams, United Arrows, and Haversack among their stockists in the country. Taking a deeper dive into the company’s guiding principles and processes, it’s easy to understand why. 

Crown Northampton remains firmly committed to fully making all of its footwear in the UK. All products are custom made to order by skilled local craftspeople with orders placed online taking between 10-25 working days to make and deliver worldwide. With a bold company mantra of ‘Every Order, Made To Order’ setting the tone, this age-old method enables customers to choose from a wider range of colours and materials. They can add different coloured soles with the choice of a wider G fitting, and also there’s the option to request a handwritten personalised sign off inside their footwear – all available online through the website. Further to this, there’s a unique full resoling and refurbishment service for their sneaker collection if and when required at a later date. By combining these traditional methods of construction and service with a progressive mindset, there is the perfect blend of past, present, and future that allows them to confidently move forward as a brand, whilst still drawing from over a century of shoemaking history and experience.

For design inspiration, Crown Northampton forged its own path by delving back into company archives. The original Jazz silhouette was selected and expanded, then fine-tuned specifically for the Japanese market where strong distribution links have been developed over the past two decades. The Jazz range is pared back, set on soft flexible soles, and carries an overall minimalist aesthetic with clean, flowing lines. This straightforward design blueprint then set the foundations for all of the company’s footwear going forward. Made with precision and elevated to higher levels, where the fine materials and seamless finishing do the talking, where less is more. 

With this solid platform set, the Sneaker Collection was added to the offer by drawing from the core DNA of the Jazz range where minimal is key. The sneakers are classically British in design, with a purposefully timeless style that transcends any passing trends. The focus is firmly on handmade craftsmanship and traditional silhouettes with a current line up that features three main styles. The Overstone is the brand’s bestseller in the collection due to its familiar silhouette that features a derby construction, commonly found on most sneakers and trainers. The Upton Wholecut is possibly the most striking in appearance. Made from a one-piece upper which provides a continuous, uncluttered finish, the construction is based on classic Northampton dress shoe design. Finally, the Abington features a leather toe cap overlaid to the front part of the sneaker and carries inspiration from classic basketball and traditional dress shoes with capped toes. All three models are made on the same last but offer something different due to their unique cut and finish. 

All sneakers are fully leather lined and individually handmade to order, but only when a customer purchase is received. This ensures that processes remain sustainable as there is no overstock so, therefore, no need for sale periods to clear the end of line products. World-class quality materials are carefully sourced across the entire collection, utilising Italian calf, Horween Chromexcel leathers from Chicago, US, and the finest Kudu suede from the C F Stead tannery in Leeds, England. With hi-top versions of the Overstone and Abington models now available in rich Horween leathers, the TL (Trim Line) Sneaker Series was recently added to the range and initially launched in versatile Kudu which is known for its softness coupled with extreme durability. Based on the original core designs of the Overstone and Upton, TL models share the same DNA as their predecessors yet feature trimmed down uppers through reduced cushioning and subtle design tweaks that create an overall slimmer and leaner appearance.

With more new styles planned before the year’s end, Crown Northampton continues to add depth and variety to their collections whilst remaining true to company values and always respecting local tradition.

Crown Northampton’s full footwear range can be viewed and ordered through their website here.