Video: Edward Green shoes being made in Northampton

Tuesday, October 11th 2016
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Edward Green recently made this video showing step-by-step the stages of making a pair of shoes in the Northampton factory.

I like the lack of pretentiousness to it - others would desaturate the imagery, use slow motion to linger over particular parts, or run sweeping music over the top.

Instead, this is simple and straightforward, and the sound focuses on the rustles and thumps of leather and machinery.

UPDATE: 

A reader commented asking how long a pair of shoes takes to make. An interesting question - here's why it's tricky to answer:

Firstly, a shoe needs to be on its last for at least two weeks for the leather to properly take and hold the form of the last. Clearly it's not being worked on all this time.

Secondly, a workshop needs to balance an entire production run. So for example the clicking room needs a balance of brogues, with patterns made up of smaller parts, and at the other extreme wholecuts, with fewer parts, to get sustainable usage from the calf.

The same will go for the closing room, with different punching requirements and expertise available. The last room may not have unlimited lasts available and so production flow will require an order is held until lasts are available.

Then there's set-up time: the time to find the B width of that rare pattern, or to change the thread on the made-to-order, or find the unusual calfskin and ensure there's enough usable material for a pair of size 11.5 boots. Hard to know whether to include all of that. The film shows some of this degree of calibration required on the machinery. Again, a made-to-order mix requires far more changes and checking.

And finally there's the vital issue of rework. Maybe a leather flaw jumps out at lasting and needs to go back for recutting; maybe a problem is only visible as the calf is worked on whilst being finished. Hard to know how much to include for that.

And of course the whole question depends on the model too.

I hope that's helpful. The answer is a lot of time, but deciding what to include and not, and then finding an average, is not easy.

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James N

Hi. With this video, would you classify E.G. shoes as machine made or hand made?

roy

Nice video – has prompted me to give my EGs some TLC.
Any idea how many hours from start to finish for one pair of EG shoes?

Laurent

Thank you for this video, good to see it all again, and agree with you that it was done in an elegant and simple way!
Too bad that they do not show how the strip of fabric that replaces the “wall” is attached.
Also, interesting to see that they first glue on the last layer of sole, then open the channels for stitching, then stitch the sole to the welt with the Goodyear machine. I always assumed that this last “aesthetic layer” gets attached last.

VAL

Hello, Simon. I try to compare best English benchmade RTW shoes (John Lobb, G & G, Edward Green and Anthony Cleverley). What is the best in terms of quality RTW? And how we can compare best English RTW shoes with hand-welted makers such as St. Crispins and Enzo Bonafe (not so expensive, but perhaps more hand operations). What is your best choise in RTW shoes only in terms production and leather quality if the money is no object?
Hope for answers, thank you.

Timofey

Dear Simon, I should say that a lot of Italian RTW brands are more hand made and more interesting than E.G.: best of all of course is silvano lattanzi then Paolo scafora , Enzo Bonafe, Santoni exclusive, Bontoni, branchini.

Ashish

Thank you for this video Simon. Out of interest, is there any particular reason that John Lobb (Paris) shoes do not get much coverage on this blog?

Gus

On the whole, most of the John Lobb (Paris) range are in fact less expensive than EG despite being of similar quality. It would appear that videos such as the above have been produced to justify the recent EG price increases.

Sartorius

Interesting perception of EG v John Lobb. In terms of RTW, I would say that JL London is better quality than EG, although I agree the buying decision depends to a great extent on their respective styles and what you prefer. Also have to say that I’ve found EG’s service very poor in recent years and have stopped buying from them as a result.

anm

Rather surprised at the hand cutting of leathers for a standard product in a traditional design…I would have thought for efficiency, they would have adopted the pattern/punch press process by now..

The other thing – it looks as if they don’t recycle the excess cork mixture which is scraped from the soles, or am I mistaken?

anm

Simon,

I have taken to automatically using a set of insoles in any shoes I purchase. This includes athletic and boat shoes. And works well with most of my off the rack (typically Italian-made) dress/casual footwear.

Does going bespoke negate this?

And if so why? (extra padding, etc?)

anm

Beyond comfort and fit, I find that insoles take an edge off the wear and tear of day to day use. Insoles, also seem to extend the life of the shoe, and extend the “quality” look, and feel of it over time.

When I have had shoes re-shod, the cobbler invariably tells me the interiors look new, and that he can tell I take good care of them (trees used every day, as well)

In other words, insoles seem to have a beneficial effect, even on the wear of the sole…I suspect I would use them in bespoke, as well….

Bob

A very apt post for me to reply to.

I started reading your blog in M&S shoes, moved up through Loake to C&J then C&J handgrade and now looking to move to the next level and possibly a jump of a few levels but having seen a podiatrist today they’ve throw a spanner in the works saying:

1) I need the heal built up by an extra 5mm or so (or one more block per his own Loake shoes). I happen to have 2 pairs of shoes with C&J for resoling so spoke to them and they said the factory wont help with this but for an extra £30 their local cobbler will build up the heel once its back but it would have been free if the local cobbler had done the whole job.

2) I need to use orthotics for my pain in my left foot to encourage me to walk off the ball of my foot (a natural “deformity” in my right foot stops it having any issues, two wrongs can make a right!). Its a half length insert and whilst only needed for left a right one would be made to balance it out/ for initial comfort.

Secondly they’ve identified my left foot is about 1 size smaller than my right with a very different shaped heal (though this isnt the cause of my problem)

Sorry for the long background but to my three questions:

1) Do you have a cobbler you’d recommend for doing heel changes? Given they charge the same for a cobbler and the factory to resole the shoes to then charge extra for a heal modification with an inevitable markup feels a bit excessive

2) With bespoke shoes for those of us notably asymmetrical feet how are the shoes made? To fit the feet so they are different sizes or padded up on the inside to keep the same outer size?

3) For those needing orthotics can bespoke shoes be built with the right “shape” in them to avoid the need or any modification so the inner is “normal” inside rather than shaped to the foot so the orthotic will fit?

Sorry if the later questions are a bit silly but I’ve not been up close and personal to bespoke shoes to really know how personalised they are. For the orthotics there are plaster replicas of your foot made etc and so are very “personalised”

ANN

Simon,

Another question – the recent trend to wearing dress shoe “sock-less” – would your recommend this with bespoke?

I go sock-less with boat shoes, but they are typically made with belting/saddle leather, and can take all that one’s feet can dish out…But dress shoes tend to be made with fine leather lining, that I cannot imagine standing up to sock-less wear…

I am not sure I would risk the investment…for a fashion statement…

SN

Hi Simon,
How do you think who/what company is a “quintessence of British shoemaking” for this days ? Who are making the best product and personifies the British shoemaking in nowadays ?
Not paying attention to the price.

1. In RTW (GG, EG, CJ, JL, Foster, Cleverley, Loake, etc)
2. In Bespoke (JL, GG, F&S, Templeman, D Casey, Cleverley, etc)

SN

Who are making the best quality bespoke shoes from British makers at this days ?

SN

Didn’t see the article about Templeman shoes. Could you please give a link on it?

What is your best bespoke shoes?