March 26th, 2019
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 are big fans of the award-winning Buckets & Spades men’s fashion and lifestyle blog. So we were honoured when the blog’s author Matthew Pike dropped by our shop in Princes Arcade, Piccadilly, for a shoe fitting. Here is his account of the visit.
In this section of the blog, we like to look at some of the other things that wearers of fine shoes might appreciate, so we look for the very best of English craftsmanship in other industries. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much in common between a pair of shoes and an umbrella. But think again.
Chelsea boots, also known as jodhpur boots, first appeared in Victorian times and were used for horse riding. Their distinguishable feature was an elastic insert that allowed them to be easily pulled on and off. By the middle of the 20th century, London’s ‘Chelsea Set’ had adopted the style and the name Chelsea boot was born. The design soon became synonymous with the Mod and Beatnik generation of the 1960s.
Here at Loake we are big fans of David Evans, cult menswear writer and author behind Grey Fox, a fashion and style blog offering sartorial guidance to men over 40. During his search for style, David has discovered and become a big fan of British menswear. We were recently fortunate to receive him at our Kettering factory. Here is his account of the visit.
I recently visited Kettering to see the Loake footwear factory. As a blogger, I’ve had the privilege of visiting several factories around England and Scotland. All were similar in many ways: the smell of oil, the sounds, the ordered but well-worn furnishings and machinery, the quiet focus of the workers, their enthusiasm and care and the breathtaking expertise shown in those quick, deft movements used by those totally familiar with their work.
Northamptonshire is the spiritual home of the brogue. No English gentleman’s wardrobe is complete without a pair of handcrafted Goodyear welted brogues from one of the county’s traditional shoemakers. However, the brogue did not originate in the Midlands. Originally it was worn in the wilder reaches of the Highlands and Ireland, the punched holes designed to allow water to drain from the shoe after walking through boggy terrain.
Meet Brendon Drage-Dawes, the Manager of our factory in Kettering, Northamptonshire. Brendon is a highly-experienced and very valuable member of our management team. He has worked in the shoemaking trade for nearly three decades.