Spotlight: Crockett & Jones

Crockett & Jones epitomises the heritage of quality shoemaking for which Northampton is renowned. The brand’s offering includes durable yet stylish summer shoes

For nearly 145 years, Crockett & Jones has been cementing its status as one of the best shoemakers in the world. In 1879, James Crockett and Charles Jones founded the eponymous brand, opening a workshop in Northampton, which would soon be followed by a factory there. They applied for £100 each from the Thomas White Trust, whose mission was to “encourage young men of good character in the towns of Northampton and Coventry to set up business on their own”. 

The company has long specialised in making Goodyear welted shoes. A Goodyear machine is used to stitch soles through to the welt, a strip of leather holding the components of a shoe together. This greatly extends the service life of shoes by enabling them to be stripped back down and their soles replaced without affecting any other part.

From clicking to lasting, there are many other specialised stages in the manufacturing process. After the quality of footwear this yields was recognised on an earlier Antarctic expedition, Ernest Shackleton’s crew wore Crockett & Jones boots during the Endurance Expedition of 1914.

Its excellent footwear has also contributed to the global expansion of the brand, whose outlets in England have been joined by others in Paris, Brussels, and New York. Throughout the 20th century, its export market included many commonwealth countries, as well as Argentina, Egypt and Japan. In 1990, it received the Queen’s Award for Export Achievement, indicative of widespread admiration for its shoes throughout the world.

Crockett & Jones has recently reimagined its Goodyear welted loafers, creating comfortable, breathable iterations for warmer climes. It will release The Riviera Collection for spring/summer 2023. Three soft, summer-weight loafers include the Antibes, Cannes, and Nice, each of which is produced on the brand’s newest last, 393.

For comfortably exploring labyrinthine alleys, dawdling through markets, and walking down promenades, all three shoes in the collection capitalise on the extremely supple Superflex leather sole exclusive to Crockett & Jones. During a lengthy and complex tanning process, it’s permeated with waxes and rendered sturdy yet comfortable. It also has great grip. Luxurious calf suede, meanwhile, lends to the rest of these shoes’ suppleness.

In the brand’s Cavendish style, which features sophisticated tassels, is the Antibes. Its ocean calf-suede iteration has a brown heel and rich navy upper which look, respectively, like a promenade and a sea darkening on a summer’s evening. The chestnut soft-grain version has more of a business feel. The Nice, meanwhile, reimagines the company’s best-selling Boston style in tobacco calf suede or dark brown soft grain. In dark brown calf-suede and tan soft-grain versions, the Cannes is an understated slip-on loafer reflecting the relaxed aesthetic of the French Riviera. It’s likely that whichever pair you choose, however, so shall you.

The calf-suede iterations in The Riviera Collection will cost £470, and their soft-grain counterparts, £470;crockettandjones.com

By Nicholas Ross. Nick is a traveller, writer and lover of literature

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