September 14th, 2018
My family has been making traditional English shoes for longer than anyone can remember. My great-grandfather John opened the first Loake factory with his brothers, Thomas and William, back in 1880. Today, five generations and more than 130 years later, the Loake association with fine, handmade shoes lives on.
We invited John Jarrett – stylist, illustrator and Fashion Editor of men’s style collective Individualism – to put together an outfit based around his choice of Loake shoes in a Summer 16 style edit. John chose our Rowe Derby shoe in Tan burnished calf leather and teamed it with a colourful ensemble typical of John’s bright and individual style.
“I chose the Rowe Derby in Tan because it can work for both casual and formal occasions, although here I matched it with workwear pieces, pairing the shoes with some lightweight white jeans, a striped shirt and a loose denim chore jacket. I added a pair of printed socks and a woven belt in Mustard yellow to add some seasonal colour to the outfit. Oh and of course, I’d never leave the house without a trilby or a fedora – why not try one in Navy?”
Follow John at @_johnjarrett
A little while ago, I was about to throw away a leather chair that was very old and in poor condition. When I say it was in poor condition, that’s an understatement – it was really only fit for the tip. We couldn’t have brought it into the house as, for all I know, it could have had all forms of wildlife, maybe even a few endangered species, living inside it – and it smelled a bit too.
But, it was over 100 years old and it used to belong to my grandfather, possibly even to his father too and, in its day, it had obviously been magnificent. So, we decided that we’d like to keep it.
In most towns it would be hard to find somebody to restore it, but here in Kettering we are very fortunate. There are two master upholsterers operating their businesses in the same street – and it’s only two streets away from our factory. So, I contacted Tom Reed at John Reed & Son, who took the chair into his workshop, helped me to choose some new leather and gave me a quote for the job.
The restoration was thorough. The chair, which Tom described as a “pillow-back”, was stripped right down to its frame, which was itself dismantled and reassembled. The rails on the frame were all dowelled and extra corner blocks were fitted to strengthen it in places. The first stuffings were a mixture of horsehair and fibre followed by cotton felt and the seat cushion was feather filled.
It would have been easier, and probably cheaper, to buy a new chair, but it would have been hard to find one as good. And, there are two extra features that I wouldn’t have got with a new chair: Firstly, I know exactly what’s inside this one and I’m confident to think that it’s probably set up for the next 100 years or so. But secondly, and for me more importantly, I’m sitting where my grandfather sat and I wonder if, one day, I might have grandchildren who carry the same thought.
But there’s one more thing to consider. It takes a long time for highly-skilled craftsmen to acquire their expertise and it can be very hard for the public to find such people. But when we do have the opportunity, we should use them and let artisans “do what they do” because, in doing so, they can pass their skills on to others. It’s worth it.
Andrew E Loake
For a little while now at Loake we have talked about the extended Loake ‘family’, a phrase first prompted by the wonderful interaction we receive on our Facebook page. To be honest, we are still surprised how many people love our shoes and love talking about them.
But the Loake family extends much further than this, it stretches from our forefathers who started the Loake brand through to the newest generation of wearers to adopt our shoes.
To illustrate this, we have adopted a new slogan. We Are Loake. This represents all the people who are involved in our story: the people who make Loake shoes, the people who sell them, the people who wear them and the people who love them.
Loake are proud to be in collaboration with luxury menswear brand Duchamp London, Arsenal football club’s Official formalwear partner.
Loake shoes have been supplied to Duchamp as part of the official formalwear package being worn by the first team squad and manager Arsene Wenger on selected official Club appearances, including all home matches in the Barclay’s Premier League and UEFA Champions League.
In the fourth of our series My Loake Life, we talk to Oliver McCann, Footwear Designer and Pattern Cutter based at our factory in Kettering. Oliver joined us about two years ago, having developed an early passion for footwear which diverted him from a potential career in the sports industry to focus on men’s footwear design.
In the cold and wet winter months, Goodyear Welted rubber soles provide improved grip and durability. Loake offers a wide selection of shoes with various rubber soles – including the traditional Dainite and Commando and our own Victory – and upper designs that suit different looks and occasions ranging from rugged country styles to more formal shoes.
Here are five of our favourites: Read More