There is something about shoemaking that engages with our deepest understanding ofthe meaning of Britishness and tradition. Where there is a traditional British shoemaker, there is somehow a reassuring sense of solidity, reliability and trust. It is businesses like Crockett & Jones – shoemaker to James Bond – that have nurtured these sensibilities over decades, or even centuries, of tenacious standard-setting.
A five-generation family shoe manufacturer specialising in high-quality Goodyear-welted shoes and boots for men, the business turns 140 this year. Its production processes have evolved since the 1890s when it first adopted Charles Goodyear’s superior machinery from the US for stitching uppers, welts and soles together (hence the term ‘Goodyear-welted’), but much of the Northampton factory looks just as it did when it was first built.
Many of these processes were originated by hand- makers centuries ago and take a lifetime to master.
Crockett & Jones’s operations might be 100 per cent English, but the brand plays on an international stage. As well as being a proud manufacturer, it is also a successful retail business with six stores in London and flagships in Paris, New York, Birmingham and Brussels. As a wholesaler, it is a top player in Japan, where products are sold through Isetan, Hankyu Men’s and Beams (among others) to an enthusiastic local market. Inspired by Japanese style, Crockett & Jones developed a capsule collection for A/W’18: The Black Editions. These are slightly more audacious versions of its classic shoes and boots, in contemporary black leathers and with an oversized, ‘cleated’ rubber sole. Collections like these have helped to keep the brand current over the years; yet the company believes that what its customers really love are the core classics, the shoes with which they dressed Daniel Craig in the Bond films Skyfall and Spectre.
‘Our customers know that we are passionate about quality, we do not compromise on labour and materials, and we also offer value for money,’ says managing director Jonathan Jones. The manufacture of Goodyear-welted shoes is a labour of love, each pair taking eight weeks and 200 separate operations to complete. Many of these processes were originated by hand-makers centuries ago and take a lifetime to master. The resulting shoes are exceptionally durable and comfortable, while their English names – like Audley, Belgrave and Cavendish – have become personalities in their own right, synonymous with Crockett & Jones’s style, workmanship and authenticity.
A five-generation family shoe manufacturer specialising in high-quality Goodyear-welted shoes and boots for men, the business turns 140 this year.
It is quite something to consider that 140 years after Charles Jones and James Crockett set up their business, it remains in the hands of the founding family, with Jonathan Jones and Nick Jones (production director) at the helm and their children becoming the fifth generation to work there. The business has also depended upon families working in the factory itself, and the handing down of expertise, knowledge and passion. With this generational shift also comes greater engagement with the digital world, as the company gradually establishes its online voice to tell the story, raise awareness and reach out to its next generation of customers too.
CROCKETT & JONES 92 JERMYN STREET, LONDON, SW1Y 6JE +44 (0)20 7839 5239