British Footwear Association

Northamptonshire has a very long recorded history of shoemaking. The first mention of shoes in Northampton is in 1200 when a stall held by Peter the Cordwainer (shoemaker) changed hands and the transaction was officially recorded in the records. The first record of the export of shoes of shoes from the County is in 1378 to Flanders. From independent shoemakers and cobblers creating shoes in workshops all over the county, through to the industrial era and the first industrial machines in the 1800s, two World Wars and the post war expansion of consumer footwear, Northamptonshire has earned a global reputation for the quality and style of its footwear and retains that reputation today.

Many of the original shoe companies remain at the hub of a successful industry manufacturing shoes that are exported and respected across the world. Collectively the 22 Northamptonshire factories, which represent two thirds of UK footwear factories, have over 2000 years of shoemaking and international trade experience between them. Brands such as Church, Crockett and Jones, Joseph Cheaney, and Trickers are present in every luxury shopping location in the World’s leading cities; New York, San Francisco, London, Beijing, Milan, Singapore, Chicago, Tokyo and Paris. More recently and in recognition of the skills of the local workforce new factories have opened. Gaziano & Girling opened in Kettering in 2006 (and have now opened a shop in New York), and west end firm Foster and Sons opened the first new factory in Northampton for maybe 100 years in 2018.

The Northamptonshire footwear industry continues to flourish. A new nationally accredited apprenticeship is now available for footwear manufacturing. Much is achieved through constant innovation, creating new styles for the modern consumer.

Lucy Reece Raybould

BFA Chief Executive


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