A step ahead: Edward Green

British heritage shoemakers Edward Green has been making shoes from its Northampton factory for 130 years, upholding traditional craftsmanship and values for a modern customer

Style 19 Nov 2021

Edward Green quality shoes have been crafted by hand in its historic Northampton factory by a team of skilled artisans

Edward Green quality shoes have been crafted by hand in its historic Northampton factory by a team of skilled artisans

Fast, throwaway fashion has dominated the high street for decades but attitudes are steadily changing. As consumers become more sustainably minded and increasingly aware of their carbon footprint, they are also learning that what’s in their wardrobe is often one of the simplest and most effective places to start.

Edward Green is the antithesis of fast fashion. For more than 130 years the heritage brand has been manufacturing exceptional quality shoes by traditional standards from its small factory in Northampton, still the capital of great British shoemaking. Every pair of shoes, whether it’s a trusty Oxford brogue or stylish Chelsea boot, is designed to last a lifetime through premium materials and craftsmanship.

‘We have shoes that are more than two decades old coming back for repair,’ explains Euan Denholm, head of brand and business development at Edward Green. ‘In an age when people are increasingly concerned about the impact of their purchasing, that longevity is testament to the value of something made with real care and attention.’

Edward Green is the antithesis of fast fashion – every pair of shoes is designed to last a lifetime
Edward Green is the antithesis of fast fashion – every pair of shoes is designed to last a lifetime

Edward Green was founded in 1890 on the premise of achieving ‘excellence without compromise.’ Aged 12, the eponymous founder began his career in shoemaking as a shoe ‘clicker’ – a job that involved cutting the leather used to make shoes, and so-called because of the sound the knife makes against the wood. Even as a lowly apprentice, Green knew this was the industry for him, and he could see the way it was changing with the advent of mass production. Green wanted to challenge the modernisation of production, with a desire to instead go back to basics to make the highest quality shoes possible.

In this sense, very little about Edward Green has changed. Traditional workmanship and craft is the pinnacle of the brand, and everything is built by a team of artisans in Northampton. This is also where shoes are sent for repairs – no matter where in the world they were initially purchased – to ensure decades of wear and use.

‘With the shoe coming back to our workshop, it can be put back on to its original last, ensuring that it retains its original shape as we work on ironing out any creases and wrinkles, explains Denholm on the practice of repairing Edward Green shoes. ‘We use the same oak-bark tanned soles and cork filler, ensuring that shoes leave finished to the same standards to which they were originally made.’

The factory produces around 250 pairs a week, favouring quality over quantity every time. Made-to-order shoes can take up to four months to produce from start to finish; reflecting the volume of work involved at every stage.

Edward Green shoes are constructed with a Goodyear Welt construction, which allows the shoe to be remade over and over again using its original last. The company also uses premium calf leather for its comfortable, foot-friendly properties and because it develops a fine patina and character over time.

In the Northampton factory, the manufacture of Edward Green shoes requires the skilled hands of around 50 workers to create every single pair; in turn upholding traditional British shoe-making techniques that would otherwise die out. The company is proud of its heritage and provenance, and the fact it makes everything by hand in the UK. But upholding these traditional values in a modern context is also important.

Edward Green runs apprenticeship and training schemes that pay more than the living wage, ensuring fair pay throughout the business while also protecting a time-honoured craft so it endures for future generations. Edward Green shoes are investment pieces and are staples of the contemporary wardrobe for both men and women. Designed to complement every outfit for every occasion – formal or otherwise, Edward Green shoes were once the footwear of choice for American composer Cole Porter and American novelist Ernest Hemingway, and today you’ll find them gracing the feet of actor Michael Fassbender and male model David Gandy, among others. Whether it’s on the red carpet or returning to the boardroom, there’s an Edward Green style to suit.

With winter fast approaching, now is a good time to start investing in footwear that ticks all the boxes of form and function. Timeless yet luxuriously modern, Edward Green creations are a failsafe way to keep the elements at bay in style. For winter 2021, enter the Connemara boot – a versatile hiking boot designed for wintry walks in the countryside. Available in mink suede and dark brown or black delapre leather – which has been tanned in nine different natural oils for a soft and supple finish – the design takes cues from Edward Green’s classic Galway field boot, with its signature chevron pattern. The Connemara comes with a padded ankle collar for comfort, along with a bellowed tongue, storm welt and ridgeway sole. A modern classic that will see you well throughout the coming autumn/ winter season and beyond.