Goodyear-welted leather shoes and boots are a family affair
Founded in 1879 in Northampton, England’s most famous shoemaking town, Crockett & Jones specialises in Goodyear-welted footwear – a centuries-old construction that offers exceptional strength, durability and comfort.
It is widely acknowledged that Crockett & Jones (named after founders James Crockett and his brother-in-law Charles Jones) set the bar for Goodyear-welted shoes, the manufacture of which remains labour intensive and requires more than 200 highly skilled operations during an eight-week period. Although the production process has evolved with the advent of ‘health and safety’ and more reliable machinery, the Crockett & Jones factory looks just as it did back in the day, mirroring the old-school values and charm of the company.
Shoes are still manufactured with the same level of attention to detail, using only the finest calf leathers from the leading tanneries of Europe and individually crafted on lasts designed to produce the best possible fit. Also, rather crucially, it is still a family-run business in the truest sense of the word: the fifth generation has been involved for more than ten years and every single member of the production department has access to a founding family member at all times.
Current MD Jonathan Jones is very much a product man and has always remained committed to focusing on traditional craftsmanship and exceptional quality for good value, rather than high turnover. Furthermore, production director Nick Jones (Jonathan’s brother) is on hand on the factory floor 100 per cent of the time, and export sales manager Philippa Jones (Jonathan’s daughter) has worked for the company for the last ten years. The latest member to join the fold is Jonathan’s son, William.
Importantly, the term ‘family’ extends to all the ‘career-for-lifers’ (yes, it does still exist) within the factory: fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, cousins, nieces and nephews have all grown up with the business and become an integral part of the Crockett & Jones lineage – at one point they had five sisters working together in one room.
The company has three signature ranges for gentlemen: the hand grade collection (where an asymmetric last is shaped to the natural contours of the foot and the soles, slowly tanned with natural bark, then trimmed and stitched before the final wax polishing); the main collection which features both classic and contemporary shoes styles; and the shell Cordovan collection.
The latter involves a lengthy process of specialist vegetable tanning, hand-dyeing and finishing to produce the distinctive strong fibre structure and rich shiny texture of Cordovan leather. Crockett & Jones also produces a range of low-heeled shoes for women in lighter weight leather, as well as a collection of belts, which are specially designed to match the footwear.
The unique City Sole, developed in collaboration with The Harborough Rubber Co, combines the formality of a leather sole with sharp-edge trimming and the practicality and longevity of a rubber sole; a ‘rough-out’ waxed suede has been added to the main collection, and newly offered finishes such as hand-burnishing adds a distinctive depth and richness to the leather.
These days Crockett & Jones is a soaring retail success – there are 12 flagship stores, including London, Paris, New York, Birmingham and Brussels – and an A-list favourite for everyone from sports stars and cabinet ministers to James Bond (they were commissioned to make shoes for Skyfall and Spectre). It’s no wonder that with such exacting standards and a dedication to upholding the traditional craft of shoemaking, this is a very special British brand indeed.
CROCKETT & JONES 92 JERMYN STREET, ST JAMES’S, LONDON, SW1Y 6JE +44 (0)20 7839 7363