These British-made brogues were made for walking

Tue May 1, 2012 10:32am EDT
 
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By Li-mei Hoang

NORTHAMPTON (Reuters) - The small wooden door of Tricker's shoe factory unexpectedly leads to a smartly polished showroom, its dark wooden shelves home to some of the world's finest handmade shoes, as a collection of workers visible through clear glass windows go about their daily tasks.

Rows of shiny leather shoes are lined up, toe first, ready for visitors to inspect and possibly purchase straight from one of England's oldest shoe-making firms which supplies its footwear to Prince Charles, a historic lineage that many tourists are keen to buy into.

Britain's shoe manufacturing industry is experiencing a revival, as sales of traditional footwear brands like Tricker's, Church's and Crockett & Jones have increased year-on-year at luxury department stores like Selfridge's.

"These are brands which stand for quality and craftsmanship. The leather and stitching quality is consistently outstanding," said Selfridge's Buying Manager for Men's Shoes Richard Sanderson, who has seen a rise in demand for British-made products.

"The use of traditional design methods is really appealing to international visitors, who feel like they're buying into a piece of British culture."

"We see markets such as China, Nigeria and our closer-to-home European shoppers ask specifically for this type of brand when they visit our stores," Sanderson added.

The demand for gentlemen's brogues, often seen on the feet of wealthy bankers, has seen business flourish at Tricker's, one of the last remaining shoe factories in the middle English market town of Northampton. Tricker's was founded in 1829 and makes 1,400 pairs of shoes a week, 1,300 of which are brogues.

GOOD FEELING   Continued...

 
Director Barry Jones poses at Tricker's shoe factory in Northampton, central England, April 25, 2012.The small wooden door of Tricker's shoe factory unexpectedly leads to a smartly polished showroom, its dark wooden shelves home to some of the world's finest handmade shoes, as a collection of workers visible through clear glass windows go about their daily tasks. Photograph taken April 25, 2012. REUTERS/Darren Staples