A discussion about
“Made in England”

In response to growing consumer interest in the provenance of the products they buy, Andrew Loake gives a frank and honest account of Loake’s position on the “country of origin” question.

Andrew Loake

We’ve noticed a big increase in the number of people who are interested in where things are made. Since the advent of the Internet, consumers have become ever more knowledgeable and demanding, and one result of this is that more and more people want to support local economies and local manufacturing. We’re very pleased about that!

However, if you want to find out where something was made, it can be very difficult. That can certainly be the case in the world of footwear. So, I thought we should try to shed a little more light on the subject.

Approximately 99% of all footwear sold in the UK is now sourced from overseas but it is interesting to note that, within the EU, there is currently no legal requirement to label goods with their country of origin. Consequently, most brands (including many “English” brands) do not mark their products with the country of origin.

We at Loake, however, believe that footwear should be marked with its country of origin – so we mark it. We are extremely proud of our manufacturing heritage and tradition and we take pride in the fact that we produce our own shoes – even though some of them are made overseas. Marking all of our shoes with their country of manufacture also means that we can export them to countries outside the EU in the knowledge that we are complying with the regulations.

As many will know, in addition to our main factory in Kettering, we have a second factory in India, which we set up some years ago to give us extra production capacity. The majority of our Goodyear Welted shoes (including all those in the “Loake 1880” and “Loake Shoemakers” collections) are made in our factory in Kettering, and there are some styles in the “Design Loake” range that we can produce in either factory. We set up our own factory, rather than just sourced shoes from existing factories, because we were adamant that we didn’t want to sell Indian shoes – we wanted to make English shoes in India. So, the development work is all carried out here in Kettering and we supply almost all of the materials from here. We specify every single detail – from what kind of thread should be used to how many stitches per inch. If the same style is made in Kettering and India, they are indistinguishable – the only difference is the cost.

But, when you look on our website, every product page clearly shows the country of origin of each and every style. We have also now started to mark the Indian-made shoes more clearly in the linings (rather than under the tongue) so that people who want to support British manufacturing can be sure of doing so.

DESIGN LOAKE BOX UP SHOTSo, if you want to buy really good quality, stylish shoes that are great value for money, our “Design Loake”, most of which are made in India, range will provide just that. If you just want a basic, but still good-quality, Goodyear welted business shoe, our “L1” collection, which are all made in India, provides unbeatable value.

In both of these factories, we only make traditional shoes by the Goodyear welted construction. So, the shoes of other constructions – moccasins, boat shoes, desert boots, driving shoes, etc. – are all sourced from overseas. The origin will depend on where we can find the best factories for these particular styles. So currently, for example, our moccasins come from Italy and India, our boat shoes and drivers come from Portugal and our desert boots come from Italy. All of these more casual styles are branded “Loake Lifestyle” and, of course, are all marked according to their origin.

But, if you want to know that you are buying an English-made Goodyear welted shoe, and want the best quality available (but still at a good price), then you can choose anything from our premium “Loake 1880” collection or our mainline “Loake Shoemakers” range, all of which are made in Kettering, here in the heart of Northamptonshire.

Anyone who makes anything in England will certainly want their customers to know where it’s made, so it will usually be labeled accordingly. I suppose the ‘rule of thumb’ should probably be: “if it doesn’t say on it that it’s made in England, you can probably assume that it isn’t”.

25 Comments on “A discussion about
“Made in England”

  1. A very interesting discussion piece. I have a over a dozen pairs of Loake shoes and whilst the majority are from the 1880 or Evolution (sadly, it appears discontinued) ranges a few are Made in India L1s.
    I must say that I haven’t been able to fault Loake shoes made either here in England or India.

    • Hi Chris, thank you for your comment and positive feedback. It’s always good to hear from a satisfied customer!

      While our Evolution range has been discontinued, the remaining shoes from the range have been absorbed into the Shoemakers collection, and can now be found here http://www.loake.co.uk/catalogsearch/result/?q=evolution. Hope this helps.

  2. A nice read ! Thanks for the clarification . Having an English mother I visit the UK often I always try to buy English made goods . I own three pair of English made Loakes . So comfortable and very smart !

    • Thank you for your feedback Barry, always great to hear from a happy customer.

  3. Loake has always been clearer than the law requires about the source of each range of shoes. I own Indian-made Loakes and Kettering-made Loakes and they are all good horses for the courses I bought them for! Nice to hear Mr. Andrew making it all clear again. If only all companies were as honest …

    • Thanks for the comment Alan, we believe it’s important that our customers know exactly where there shoes come from.

  4. I wonder how long Loake shoes last for? I have a pair that I bought in 1985. Sadly, I did not treat them very well when I first had them; nonetheless, I am still wearing them, and I don’t think that they owe me anything.

    I’ve got seven pairs in all, in the brogue style, and whatever their age, they can be cleaned and repaired so easily.

    It would be nice to be able to get the original laces again, since I think that the Loake laces are just that bit thicker.

  5. I understand that Loake makes all its uppers in India. The lower grade models are assembled in India. The higher grade models (such as the 1880s) are assembled in Kettering. Please clarify.

    • If only life were that simple! We do make a good proportion of our uppers in India, but not all of them. Many brands use components or complete shoes from overseas, but don’t tell you that. We do things slightly differently. Firstly, we set up our own factory there and secondly we supply almost all of the materials from Kettering. So, we have complete control over everything – from what threads to use to how many stitches per inch. There’s a huge difference between buying Indian uppers and making ‘Loake’ uppers in India. It’s also important to remember that what we do here in Kettering is a bit more than “assembling” the shoes. The amount of work that goes into the Goodyear welted construction is something that most people just aren’t aware of. People tend to think of the complexity of the uppers because that’s the bit that’s most visible. But, in a sense, the upper is just one component – in our shoes, most of the work happens lower down, in the bottom of the shoe.

  6. All of my shoes are either Loake “1880” or “Shoemakers”, I have never been able to fault any of them, so, if some bits are made in India, it obviously doesn’t show in the product.

    Thanks for great shoes over the years.

  7. Great article!
    But For me, a few questions remain. I’d like to know where the leather was produced, what the working conditions were across the entire production, whether chromium or other harmful chemicals were being used and aldo how they were disposed of.
    The mainstream leather shoe business is, as I am convinced you are most knowledgeable about, quite dirty with shoes of poor quality and both unethical and unsustainable ways of production. When I buy a pair of Loake or from another quality brand, I want feel assured that these issues are important to the manufacturer as I put equal value in the sustainability and the quality when purchasing shoes.
    I have recently received my first pair of Loakes (from the 1880 line). I am very pleased with them, and I am sure I will have many more in the future. If you would take time to answer my questions it would be most appreciated.
    Greetings from Sweden.

    • Hello Dan, most of our leather is produced within the EU (unfortunately, there are no longer any tanneries in the UK that can make leather of the grade that we require), so the working conditions are well controlled. Chrome is used in the production of most shoe upper leather, although we do use some vegetable-tanned leather as well. Soling, heeling and insole leather is vegetable-tanned. There are strict controls on the use and disposal of hazardous substances throughout the EU and all of the tanneries that supply us have to comply with these. We do however have a further requirement in that, as holders of a Royal Warrant, we have to undergo an environmental and sustainability audit every 5 years – and this makes us more responsible for compliance right down the supply chain. I hope you enjoy your Loake1880 shoes. Andrew Loake

  8. Please could you provide some more clarity… Are the 1880s uppers made in India or England?

    • Thanks for your question Paul, tricky one this! Many of our 1880 uppers are made in India, but it’s impossible to say that any shoe uppers are 100% made in England. There are no tanneries in England that are capable of producing calf leather of the type and grade that we need, so we have to import it. But, almost all of our leather for the 1880 uppers is made within Europe and it is delivered to our factory in Kettering where it is inspected and sorted according to the style of shoe to be made. The actual cutting and stitching for many of our uppers is done in our own factory in India, where we have complete control over the process. With Goodyear welted shoes, and the ‘1880’ range in particular, most of the skilled work is done below the insole and all of that work is carried out here in Kettering. Our range of shoes is now so big that it can be difficult to list which parts come from where. The Loake 1880 collection is a fine range of Goodyear welted shoes that are made in England, but it’s not possible to say that all of the components are made here in England. Hope this helps. Andrew Loake

  9. Hi There, I’m from India and wondering that where in India I can buy an authentic Loake shoes from.

    Kind Regards,
    N

  10. I recently brought a pair of boots from another company only to find they’re made in India, had I paid the full retail price of £230 I would of been very disappointed. £100 in the January and I’m just a bit miffed. Comparing them to my Bedale’s you could see the difference in quality, the Loakes being a lot better. I was just wondering about my Bedale’s, I gather the 1880’s are “made in England” but was wondering if you could give me more information. Are the boots manufactured in England from start to finish or just assembled in England?

    Many thanks

    Lee Wilson

  11. Hi folks,
    Today, I acquired a nice pair of Loake’s in black on ebay.
    Almost new, just very little wear.
    These are my second pair of Loakes.
    The first pair I bought from Loake web page 2 years ago and am very happy with.
    I would like to know more about these shoes, like, , leather quality, made under which model / last, what was their sale price ( MSRP ), year of manufacture, where they were made and any availability today in burgundy or dark tan etc.
    I couldn’t find anything on Loake’s web page either on the web.
    Inside says :
    Manston
    461018 – 0324 370
    L/1639/6
    Size 7
    I own a few nice pair of british made shoes but I love yours.
    Thank you, Regards.

  12. Have started buying Loakes within the last few years after taking an increasing interest it good quality English shoes (partially from living near Northampton, and then seeing Kinky Boots the musical!).
    Recently purchased a pair of Indian made Loakes, received this week and look fantastic, and price was very reasonable, fit well so no complaints at all.
    Have also purchased Loake wax & polish to take better care of these, they deserve care and I’m sure will last longer for it. The Loake shoe care kit also excited me. Do I need help?! Maybe this is what happens when you reach 40..

  13. Hi .I bought a pair of Loan brogues about 30 years ago .they are still going strong . I inherited a pair of black boots.the wording inside says. Shoe no 7901and 73045 79 10 ex 23| 08 and Made in England.i would love to know anything you could tell me about them. also I have a pair of Super Victor brown lace up shoes I’m guessing from the 70s. We’re they made by Loake they too are incredible quality.

    • Hi Gary,
      The 790 boot has been discontinued now for some years. However, its replacement model number 290 is still available, is made in England and it remains a popular model in our Shoemaker range.
      Is it possible to send us some images of the other items? We might be able to tell you a little more, especially if the stamping on the lining is still legible. You can email them to store@loake.co.uk
      Many thanks

  14. Hi Loake ,

    I will be honest and say that I have not yet purchased a British made boot , mainly because I stick with the American Wolverine brand that suits me well. I have to say though that I really like the Loake Beadle and I’m thinking on pulling the trigger on that . What makes me think about it though is that I can’t see anywhere on the internet mentioning what leather u use for these boots. Best leather doesnt mean anything .. for instance Red wing uses their own from sb tannery , Wolverine from Horween etc .. Loake from where ?
    Hope I can get some answers therefore i make my mind and go buy the pair of boots. ( Btw customer service never responded to my queries )

    Regards ,

    Giorgos

    • Hi Georgios

      We use leather from European tanneries for this style, so, though difficult to pin point exactly where the leather for each individual shoe comes from, the leather for Beadale most likely comes from Italy or France.
      Hope this helps.

  15. Hi there, I recently bought a very old boxed, but new, pair of Loake Super Victor uncapped Derby shoes in tan, model name Gorse. They are stated as being made in England and I was interested to know anything you could tell me about their origins, for example, likely year of manufacture.
    Thanks

    • Hello Mark, are you able to read any of the markings within the shoe please ?

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