As one of the last remaining active shoe factories in England, Crown Northampton has a deep understanding of English made and handmade sneakers. Recently we were visited by local broadcasters ITV Anglia who filmed a short piece in our factory and discussed the shoe trade with our tradespeople. The narrative explored robotic workers vs actual skilled humans and what it means to us in today's world. Of course, modern technology needs to be embraced in order for design progression, efficiency and to continue moving forward but the question is - at what cost?
As a brand, Crown Northampton firmly stands being the mantra - 'Made In England, From Start To Finish'. These simple words set the standard for what we believe in as a brand and will never be compromised. In order to manufacture the highest quality sneakers and shoes; footwear that we're happy to attach the Crown Northampton brand to, the highest quality materials are needed first. Now due to various events and circumstances in past history, many countries needed to become self sufficient in specific industries in order to survive. Furthermore, this has then led to expertise being established in these regions and in many cases they have gone on to become market leaders. In modern day terms, the direct fall out from this for a shoe factory is a decrease in localised production for these specific materials which then leads to an increase in imports. Bottom line - sometimes you need to source materials from countries that are the best in the industry at what they do. Crown sources all leather from local leather merchants here in Northampton who have in turn sourced the best calf skins from Italy, France, USA and England. This process ensures that our sneakers have possibly the highest quality uppers out of any sneakers in the world and this is something we firmly believe and stand behind. We will always strive to use English made materials where possible but location of expertise and quality of materials is something that is determined by the active marketplace.
One area where we refuse to look outside of England is the manufacture of all Crown Northampton Shoes and Sneakers. In this specific field, England and Northamptonshire in particular, have been market leaders for centuries and are arguable still the best to this day. When it comes to Northampton, experience handed down along with the skills needed to make footwear are ingrained in the local community and wider county. Made in England - handmade / handcrafted / bench made, are all traditional terms that mean something in Northampton and can only be achieved with human hands. Of course, machinery and robots have their place in modern day manufacturing and are sometimes necessary, but Crown will always believe that handmade shoes and sneakers should be actually handcrafted by a human. A human with a heartbeat, with tradition and experience at their core and maybe with a few interesting stories to tell.
View this short clip for a look inside our Northampton factory and to hear Crown shoemaker Yvette along with Managing Director Chris Woodford explain why handmade by humans actually makes a difference to us here at Crown.