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.


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.