DISCOVER CROWN NORTHAMPTON: EVERY ORDER, MADE TO ORDER
Written by Menswear Style in Brands on the 9th April 2020 / Discover Crown Northampton: Every Order, Made To Order
When you hear the words ‘Northampton Shoes’, for many of us who have even the slightest interest in footwear, it instantly makes you think of handmade, high quality, and usually expensive shoes. Often referred to as the spiritual home of shoes due to centuries spent perfecting the craft, the town of Northampton has literally been built around the footwear trade and industry. Known worldwide for a pair of detailed brogues or an immaculately finished pair of Oxford dress shoes, if you want fine handmade footwear then you first look to the town of Northampton.
In the present day, the town still thrives off this well-earned reputation for excellence but with far fewer factories in operation. One of these remaining factories is home to Crown Northampton Shoes whose history and heritage date back over 100 years. From a family run business that was founded back in 1908 by Earnest Woodford, the company proudly remains in fifth-generation family ownership to this day, currently under the control of Chris Woodford - the great, great-grandson of Earnest. Originally formed as E Woodford & Sons, Crown Northampton is now the company’s flagship brand and remains firmly committed to fully making all of its footwear in the UK. With evolution a must for any business, the brand employs an interesting set of business practices that sees its roots firmly set in the past, yet with a mindset that is progressive and future-facing.
Wanting to forge Its own path, Crown decided to take a look into its archives and designed an updated range of Jazz shoes that they produced in the past for a number of big UK suppliers. The Jazz range is pared back, with clean lines, and carries an overall minimalist aesthetic where less is more. This straightforward design blueprint set the foundations for all of the company’s footwear going forward. The design carries obvious characteristics from its original use as a Jazz dance shoe, yet it has been made with precision and elevated with fine materials. The product line was immediately well received in Japan through the progressive fashion scene where customers are known for their appreciation of traditional well-made craftsmanship, mixed with simple styling and directional outfits.
Taking from the core DNA of the Jazz range, the Sneaker Collection was added to the Crown Northampton offer and has gone on to become one of the top-performing collections. With the luxury sneaker market now one of the biggest categories in men’s footwear, Crown Northampton sneakers are classically British in design, with a timeless style that transcends any passing trends - much like a Chelsea Boot or Penny Loafer that will always have their place. The focus is firmly on handmade craftsmanship and traditional silhouettes with a current lineup that features the Overstone Derby, Upton Wholecut, Abington Toe Cap - then hi versions of both the Overstone and Abington. Each one of these models further highlights the classic, tried and tested methods of construction that will be forever linked with the centuries-old Northampton shoe trade.
Running through the sneaker collection in more depth, the Overstone is the bestselling style due to its all-round classic silhouette that features a recognisable derby construction used on most sneakers and trainers. The upper displays minimal visible stitching, metal eyelets and double stitching at pressure points to offer durability. The Upton is the most striking and unique in appearance. Made from a one-piece upper which provides a continuous finish, the construction is formed from a combination of classic Northampton dress shoe design and Jazz shoe styling. The main part of the upper displays no visible stitching, with a smooth, uncluttered flow. Finished with punched holes instead of metal eyelets. Finally, the Abington Toe Cap also features an open derby construction and is finished with punched holes instead of metal eyelets. The toe cap is overlaid to the front part of the sneaker and carries inspiration from classic basketball and baseball sneakers, as well as traditional dress shoes with added toe panels.
The TL (Trim Line) Series was recently added to the Sneaker Collection. Based on the original core designs of the Overstone and Upton, TL models share the same DNA as their predecessors yet feature trimmed down uppers through reduced cushioning and subtle design tweaks. With an overall slimmer and leaner appearance, the TL models have a lightweight feel whilst still retaining full natural leather lining throughout, including the hand-finished insoles. Now available in soft and durable Kudu suedes and leathers as well as premium Italian calf leather, in a variety of different colour combinations. All sneakers are fully leather lined and handmade when each individual order is received. This ensures that processes remain sustainable as there is no overstock and therefore no need for sale periods to clear end of line products. Each pair is very much considered and finished with a hands-on, personal touch.
The design and development of the Crown Northampton sneaker collection has placed quality and precision at the forefront. Until fairly recently, sneakers or trainers were seen as a form of casual footwear, mainly to be used for athletic activity and made with lightweight fabrics. Crown has taken a very different approach when sourcing materials, deciding instead to focus on premium suedes and leathers from some of the best tanneries in the world. Due to its concentration of world-class shoemakers, Northampton is also home to the best leather merchants in the UK. Crown use Italian calf, Horween Chromexcel leathers from Chicago, US and the finest Kudu suede from the C F Stead tannery in Leeds, England. These close-knit connections ensure Crown Northampton sneakers are further elevated and closely in line with all other Northampton made footwear.
As all Crown Northampton footwear is custom made to order, product takes between 10-25 working days to make and deliver worldwide. Overall, this generally results in slower hand-finished processes but with this also comes opportunity. This Made To Order method enables customers to choose from a wider range of colours and materials, add different coloured soles, the choice of wider fitting and also the option to request a handwritten personalised sign off inside the sneakers - all available online through the website. Further to this, there is also a full resoling and refurbishment service for their sneaker collection if required at a later date.
Crown Northampton’s ingrained passion for quality, craftsmanship and premium service looks set to serve its customers very well. Crown Northampton’s full footwear range can be viewed and ordered on their website | crownnorthampton.com