Church’s links to the craftsmanship of handmade shoes can be traced back to 1675 and the industry’s heartland of Northamptonshire. This county has been at the centre of a flourishing leather and footwear industry since the Middle Ages, a legacy which continues to this day.
In 1873, Thomas Church and his three sons – Alfred, William and Thomas Jr – founded the Church’s company and united the production processes in one modern factory in Northampton. Prior to this, each individual process was carried out in the workers’ own homes. Northampton plays a vital role in the brand’s DNA and is still the home of the company’s worldwide headquarters. In the space of a few years, Church’s rapidly evolved from a cottage industry into a benchmark firm for high-quality footwear. It is interesting to note that Church’s was the first footwear manufacturer to introduce the concept of ‘left’ and ‘right’ shoes – most other companies at that time still sold ‘straights’. With the dawn of the 20th century, Church’s began exporting to new markets such as the USA, Canada, China, and South America and appointed distributors in many European countries.
In 1921 the company opened a retail store in Britain, followed by New York in 1929 and mainland Europe and Asia over the next 30 years. Each store is dedicated to showcasing the very best of English shoemaking, and offers unparalleled customer service.
Today the manufacturing of Church’s shoes is still inspired by its rich heritage and dedication to traditional techniques
The company now operates from three factories in Northamptonshire. This continued commitment to craftsmanship and manufacturing in England was recognised when the company was presented with the prestigious Queen’s Award for Exports, cementing Church’s status as a leading international brand. In 1999 Church’s joined the Prada Group, a world leader in the luxury retail industry. The group’s objectives were to expand the brand internationally by speaking to a wider audience while fully respecting its English heritage. As a result, over the last ten years, Church’s has expanded its retail footprint, now totalling 55 stores globally in key cities across the world. These include three stand-alone stores that sell exclusively Church’s women’s collections.
Church’s shoes transcend fashion. Traditional styles such as Oxfords or Brogues never date, though colours and details may vary from season to season. Alongside the traditional offering, Church’s has developed some new styles, with the aim of appealing to customers in different global markets. This continued innovation allows the brand to develop and grow its position as the world’s leader of top quality Goodyear Welted Footwear.
In the space of a few years, Church’s rapidly evolved from a cottage industry into a benchmark firm for high-quality footwear.
Today the manufacturing of Church’s shoes is still inspired by its rich heritage and dedication to traditional techniques: the welted shoes are hand-made by dedicated artisans, using a process that can take up to eight weeks and involve over 250 detailed manual operations. This enables Church’s to offer exemplary aftercare, with full refurbishment facilities available in the Northampton factory, using the same high quality materials and craftsmanship as used in the original manufacturing process. Because with proper care and attention, a pair of Church’s can – and do – last a lifetime.
CHURCH’S ST JAMES ROAD, NORTHAMPTON NN5 5JB +44 (0)1604 751251