‘My family has been making traditional English shoes for longer than anyone can remember. My great-grandfather John opened the first Loake factory with his brothers, Thomas and William, back in 1880. Today, five generations and more than 130 years later, the Loake association with fine, handmade shoes lives on. As the current custodians of Loake, we are immensely proud of the commitment of our forefathers and the tradition they worked so hard to establish’
–Andrew Loake, Managing Director of Loake
A pair of Goodyear Welted Loake shoes can take up to eight weeks to make. Some 130 skilled craftsmen, up to 75 shoe parts and over 200 different operations are involved. The film below gives a great insight and explains just how their Goodyear Welted shoe are constructed.
Loake Shoes on Jermyn Street
You’ll also find below a brief explanation into some of the processes involved in crafting the shoes.
1. Clicking (Cutting)
This is the name given to the process of cutting the leather sections of the shoe uppers. The name ‘clicking’ is derived from the noise that is made when the blade of the knife is removed from the leather when this is done by hand.
“Closing” is where the various sections of the shoe upper are stitched together. There are many operations carried out at this stage. For example, the thickness of the leather is “skived” (reduced) to avoid bulkiness and the edges of the leather are stained, seared or folded to improve appearance.
The shoe upper is pulled over the “last” and attached to the insole at the toe, sides and seat. Before lasting, the uppers are “mulled” (conditioned) in a special room in order to impart sufficient moisture to allow the leather to mould to the shape of the last.
4. Welt Sewing
The “welt” is a strip of leather that is stitched to the upper and the insole, and to which the sole will also be stitched. Because welted shoes are sewn together, rather than glued, skilled craftsmen can dismantle and repair them.
5. Sole Stitching
This operation stitches the soles to the welts. The soles are lock stitched, using two separate threads, for maximum strength.
6. Edge Trimming
The edges of the soles are trimmed to shape before they can be stained. This is a highly skilled operation which is performed “freehand”. Later they will be waxed, ironed and polished.
7. Sole Staining
The sole bottoms are also stained and polished. These will be stamped and wheeled to add extra detail at a later stage.
The final burnishing, dressing and polishing operations are very time consuming and have to be done entirely by hand.
Their premium grade Goodyear welted shoes continue to be made in Kettering, England, in the same factory that the three brothers built in 1894.
Loake (8-10 Princes Arcade, London, SW1Y 6DS)