Updated: Jul 14, 2021
Love shoes? Then you shouldn’t miss this unique opportunity to see where all the magic happens.
Have you ever wondered how long it takes to make a shoe? or where shoes are manufactured?
With fast fashion and instant gratification being an everyday occurrence we often lose touch with the amount of work and time which goes into the manufacturing process.
The footwear manufacturing process can be anything from weeks to months, this is all dependant on the size of the workforce, design detail and construction type.
Percy Stride shoes can take anywhere from 8-18 weeks, but why?
Let's have a look at our Northampton factory for answers...
(Above: NPS Factory Workers circa 1900)
A Bit of History
Due to the large quantities of oak bark, leather from cattle markets and close proximity to water, Northamptonshire has a long history of shoemaking which dates back to the 13th century.
It’s central location also made it a perfect place to trade up and down the country as well. Right up until the latter part of the nineteenth century, the people of Northamptonshire used to make shoes and boots in their homes. Britains home of shoe production.
Skilled craftsmen and women are difficult to come by in this area, due to a decline in production and a lot of brands moving their manufacture aboard for cheaper product and healthier margins, but you can find a sprinkling of the factory still doing what they do best...Making shoes!
How long does it take to make a shoe?
In British factories, the manufacturing process does tend to take a little longer than the high street due to a smaller workforce, shorter working days and the lengthy welting process (See Below)
The Goodyear Welt
Northampton is most widely known for their expertise and skill in creating Goodyear Welted shoes. A formidable form of construction the Goodyear Welt is regarded as the highest quality construction, however, it is also precise and costly. A Goodyear Welted construction takes on average much longer than a standard cemented construction which is a faster way of using a strong adhesive glue rather than stitching to attach a shoe sole. Learn more about the Goodyear welt here.
The Devils in the Detail
I'm sure you've guessed by now another factor of footwear production that can slow up the production process is the amount of detail involved in the design.
A lot of brands will use factory lasts (see What is a shoe last? for more info) already cut patterns and stocked leathers time and time again, maybe only changing one aspect of design such as a fastening or stitch colour, therefore making the process quicker and simpler for machinists.
Percy Strides, need a pitch more TLC.
(Above: Percy Stride Jeeves Oxfords £250)
In order to create our iconic footwear, we need to use techniques such as embossing and screen-printing as seen above.
For these techniques, our leather needs to be carefully cut and transported to nearby Northampton businesses who are experts at these very tricky, delicate skills.
There are obviously many routes one can take when it comes to creating these prints and designs however we like to stay traditional and although creating a bespoke screen-print for our shoes may increase the production time we felt it was more authentic and true to the brand.
Our Factory Tour
Our Northampton Factory along with some others in the area offer tours to the public so they can have a chance to step back in time and experience the work that goes into making proper British footwear.
The 60-minute tour will take you on a journey through time, offering an insight into all areas of shoe production from one of the best shoemakers in Northampton.
The experts at our Wollaston Factory will focus on your specific requests and answer any questions you may have. You’ll see how Percy Stride shoes are made step-by-step, from the cutting room and closing room to the making room and shoe room.
They’ll give you a real taste of how their Northampton shoemakers operate the machines and craft the footwear into a long-lasting, quality end product.
Once you’ve finished revelling in the fascinating shoemaking manufacturing processes, your tour guide will take you into the Factory Shop. There, you’ll be able to get your hands on a pair of high-street branded styles, as well as exclusive ranges from some exciting independent brands.
(Just make sure you look out for our shoes!)
To register or to find out more simply click here.