BELTS, THE CROWN NORTHAMPTON WAY

Posted by Crown Northampton on

If you’ve been with us for a while, you’ll probably already know that here at Crown Northampton, we believe in making the best shoes we possibly can. Our business model is direct-to-customer, meaning our shoes go straight from manufacturer to consumer with no middlemen and we use the highest quality materials and local talent; all resulting in a unique product at a fair price. We’ve been at this for a long time now and we’re pretty confident we know what we’re doing!

Belts, however, were a little outside our area of expertise. The idea for a range of belts to match our sneaker collections has been bounced around the factory for a few years but we simply had too many questions. Is it possible to use the same leathers as we use in our shoes? What buckles should we use? Which lining leathers are best? What machinery is required? Can we do it in a way that fits in with our already established business model? And most importantly; how do you actually make a really good belt? Before now, we didn’t have the time to dedicate to belts and if we can’t do something right, we don’t believe we should do it at all. It wasn’t financially viable to offer belts on a made-to-order basis unless we did it all in house and we didn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle available to us.

However, recent events have answered all of our questions without the need to move our focus very far. Northampton is a small town, where, as with the rest of the UK, manufacturing is a dying art. Unfortunately, this has led to many heritage companies closing their doors over the last few years. One such company was a well-respected, local belt manufacturer located 20 minutes from our doorstep. Chris, our owner, had worked with them for some time and when he heard the news of their imminent closure, asked if there was anything he could do to help. Chris realised this might be an opportunity to invest in these skilled belt makers and so now Crown has its very own belt production line.

 

Crown Northampton Belts

 

Adrian (pictured left), our new head of belt production, has worked in the belt trade for over 40 years. He agreed to join Crown Northampton after visiting our factory to watch our team at work and see the pride we take in our time-honoured techniques and method of crafting. Adrian really liked our unusual way of doing business and even brought along two of his old colleagues, Kiwi (centre) and Dave (right). 

Setting up belt production was the first order of our new belt business. Most of the machinery was already available to us but we had to source some unusual parts in order to craft belts the way we wanted to. Adrian helped us to source new materials, specifically for belt making and his expertise was invaluable in setting up this new side of the business.

Once a production line was established, Chris and Adrian set about creating a line of belts for Crown, designed to fit harmoniously with our minimalist aesthetic and showcasing the quality of materials and craftsmanship that goes into their production. Chris dealt mainly with the design side of this process while Adrian advised on the technical aspects, answering many of the questions that had previously held Crown back from belt making in the past. Adrian was able to offer insight and expertise, like helping to design our Shell Cordovan belts which are stitched together in the traditional way, with a butted seam.

 

 

After a long and challenging set up, we can now offer a belt to match your sneakers, all from the same skin of leather. We have the privilege of saving another artisan craft from the brink of extinction in Northampton, while saving a few jobs too.

 

 

As with everything we make at Crown, we want to make the best. This means sticking to more long-established, historic ways of making, without cutting corners or costs. Adrian was really impressed by this approach and felt it offered him a better way of doing what he loves. We hope you like our new products as much as the guys that make them, as Adrian says, “it’s great to make proper belts again.”

So, we’ve welcomed a few new faces to our team in order to make belts work as a viable part of the business. Our shoes will always be our main focus but belts (and hopefully some other small leather goods in the future) are part of the natural evolution of Crown Northampton.

Shop the belts collection here.

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