Euan Denholm is head of brand and business development at Edward Green, a firm that has been making handcrafted shoes in Northampton since 1890.
There was a piece in The Sunday Times Magazine last weekend by former doctor-turned author Adam Kay where he gave advice about how to stay strong and fit while in lockdown. Under a section called “Work” he talks about the importance of keeping to a routine while working from home, and suggests that ‘you’ll be more productive if you get up, washed and dressed as normal.’ Then he adds: ‘Even put some shoes on.’
I’m with Kay on this. I believe that people working from home want something that demarcates the working day. Nobody enjoys an endless mishmash of home and work, and as Kay says, you can get a real sense of being productive by putting on a proper pair of shoes; when you step into them it can give you a sense of purpose and make you feel ready for business. If you can’t actually commute across town to go to work, you need to find a way of stepping into work mode. Put on a crisp white shirt and pair of quality Northampton-made British shoes and you’ll find you have your effective head on.
So what shoes should you wear at a time of lockdown? At Edward Green we’ve been making shoes since 1890, so we have some expertise in traditional footwear. A good model would be the Berkeley, a real Jermyn Street-style classic, named after London’s famous square; it has a punched cap and leather sole and comes in black calf or dark oak antique calf. We’ve introduced it on our almond last this year, which gives it a slightly more contemporary profile. Step into the Berkeley when taking a Zoom call with the bank manager.
Even before this current crisis, a penny loafer such as the Piccadilly had been growing in popularity. What with it being spring and so many of us working from home, a loafer is perhaps the perfect hybrid – both smart and yet relaxed, easy to slip off too. If I were to choose one pair of shoes to take into lockdown, it would be the Piccadilly in mink suede.
Alternatively, if you prefer something a little more casual and relaxed, there is the Polperro, a really lightweight, comfortable loafer in baby calf suede with a feather-light flexible leather sole. This comes in a range of great summer colours: blue, coral, sand and, my favourite, mace, which is a light brown. In a similar vein is the Albert, our traditional slipper in kid suede with a leather sole. The Albert comes in blue and brown kid suede as well as velvets for a rakish accompaniment to evening wear – the perfect choice for winding down to your streamed evening of opera.
Where once Northampton shoemakers like ourselves mainly served the domestic market, today we make for the world. And the world is indoors: we live, work, eat, sleep and play within the confines of our own homes. But as much as possible, let’s not make it monotonous: let’s delineate our worlds; and change our shoes.