Four under-the-radar British shoemakers

Sophisticated footwear has a simple formula: design that has the modern man in mind, and construction that is steeped in tradition.

By Anush Benliyan 23/02/2017

When it comes to sophisticated footwear, the perfect formula is simple: design that has the modern man in mind, and construction that is steeped in tradition. It is no wonder then that some of the world's top shoemakers can be found today in England — a country whose cordwainery history dates to the Middle Ages.

To give credit where it's due, we have rounded up four of the top high-end shoemakers based in Britain that every stylish fellow should follow.

In the county of Northamptonshire — where British cordwainery is believed to have originated — Grenson has been handcrafting elegant men's shoes since 1866. Today, with designer creative director and owner Tim Little at the helm, Grenson's offerings range from bespoke dress shoes to casual boots.

Little has not watered down the brand's shoemaking process, with each Goodyear-welted shoe taking up to eight weeks to handcraft. To pay homage to its 151 years of sophisticated footwear, the brand has re-created eight of its most significant styles in the exclusive limited-edition Archive Collection, from $US715 to $US895 (about $A930 to $A1170), with subtle contemporary updates that make them wearable today.

Nearby in Desborough, the owners of 131-year-old Joseph Cheaney & Sons pride themselves in their five generations of traditional footwear manufacturing. Each of the Goodyear-welted shoes begins from fine-grade calfskin leather and is transformed through 200 in-house stages of construction, from the initial stitch to the signature hand-burnished finish.

Cheaney's latest offering is the "1 of 1" customisation program, around $US870 (about $A1135) per order. Clients choose from five base designs and add personal details using a broad menu of options that yields a total of 1.2 _million_ permutations.

Also operating in the spirit of nostalgia, London's O'Keeffe offers a collection of footwear with a unique and almost poetic identity. While the brand is just six years young, its philosophy — implemented by co-founder and owner Maud O'Keeffe — is rooted in tradition, as each of the handcrafted, small-batch shoes features an old-fashioned construction and a vintage-inspired aesthetic.

The retro — but not dated — designs, from around $US620 (about $A810) take cues from 1920s and 1950s Ireland and England. Each pair is specially treated to have a hand-me-down feel and features a patented Goodyear construction.

Another London-based shoemaker merging the old and the new is George Cleverley, the nearly 60-year-old brand whose fans have included such late luminaries as designer Alexander McQueen, playwright Noël Coward, and former prime minister Sir Winston Churchill.

The label offers handsome ready-to-wear, semi-bespoke, and bespoke footwear with unique exotic-skin options that might include Russian reindeer or capybara. A fool-proof option for clients remains the celebrated Anthony Cleverley line — each shoe of which is hand-welted, hand-lasted, and hand-finished in England, $US1600 (about $A2090). (grenson.com; cheaney.co.uk; okeeffe-shoes.com, available through mrporter.com; georgecleverley.com, available through mrporter.com)

ADVERTISE WITH US

Subscribe to the Newsletter

Robb Report AU - Newsletter Robb Report AU - Motors Newsletter Robb Report AU - Property Newsletter Robb Report AU - Lifestyle Newsletter Robb Report AU - Style Newsletter Robb Report AU - Business Newsletter Robb Report AU - Travel Newsletter

Stay Connected

You may also like.

A Noble Cause

Buy a shirt and help a young Australian teen hoping to stare down the odds.

By Robb Report

21/05/2020

This ‘Disease-Resistant’ Jacket Was Designed to Kill Pathogens On Impact

Each jacket boasts nearly 11 kilometres of copper.

By Rachel Cormack

20/05/2020

Giorgio Armani Taps Charles Leclerc For Made to-Measure Campaign

This is the first time the Formula One racer fronts a fashion ad.

By Sandra Salibian For Wwd

19/05/2020

How Savile Row’s Tailors Are Planning for Life (and Business) After the Pandemic

Even before the pandemic, menswear’s Mecca was facing challenges. Now, it’s a reckoning. Here’s where the situation stands.

By Benedict Browne

15/05/2020

Bernard Arnault’s $45 Billion Loss Won’t Derail His Plans for LVMH

The magnate has his eye on long-term investment.

By Martin Lerma

11/05/2020

Buy the Magazine

Subscribe to Robb Report today!

Subscribe today

Stay Connected