Behind the Booth with Crown Northampton Shoes

Behind the Booth with Crown Northampton Shoes

Sunday, January 11 2015

Since 1908, five generations of the Woodford family have carried on the legacy of their E. Woodford & Son shoe business, originally based in London. In February, Chris Woodford, the head designer and director of Crown Northampton Shoes brings the family legacy to the United States to debut his new brand at FN PLATFORM. Representing the fifth generation, Woodford launched the spin-off in 2013.

Woodford’s great-great-grandfather started out making shoes for the wealthy in London at the turn of the 20th century. His great-grandfather also helped make shoes in the shop while Woodford’s grandfather hand delivered the shoes to customers. The family business has always been firmly rooted in producing high quality designs of handmade shoes, through collaboration and unique in-house design expertise.

Northampton Becomes Home

As the business grew, the Woodfords felt the need to move to the Northampton area, about 100 miles from London. This was known as the “home of shoes.” Woodford says:

All the best material suppliers were in Northampton, so it was important to source the highest quality materials and leathers for the highest quality handmade shoes. Northampton had the best shoe making talent, as well.  If you want to be the best, you need to hire the best, and that is exactly what they did.

Woodford and his company take the legacy of the family business and the reputation of the town to heart. They take pride in keeping the history of Northampton shoes alive. The market for high-end, handmade and bespoke British shoes is strong and growing.

Crown Northampton shoes is one of the few brands that have the privilege of being able to put the town’s crest on their shoes. Woodford says:

This is a testament to keeping the British capital of shoes alive through the heritage of Crown Northampton Shoes. For generations, every member of the Woodford family was a cobbler and shoe designer. My great-great-grandfather understood the value of bespoke shoes, and customers appreciated the premium quality. So, he designed, crafted and sold premium shoes for a premium price.

Bespoke Shoes

Generation after generation, the tradition continued with the strength of family values coupled with a strong work ethic. Woodford says:

We understand how to be dynamic and move with fashions, whilst being transparent and true to the original heritage of British handmade shoe making. It is a business that takes many hours of thought, understanding and skill building that is sometimes overlooked by the mass markets. It is the aim of Crown Northampton to ensure every shoe is made with the time and thoughtfulness it deserves, and to share this process with the customer; be it for the retailer asking for 10,000 pairs or the customer who requires a one-off pair of bespoke Crown Northampton shoes.

Crown Northampton produces 25,000 bespoke shoes a year, and Woodford is the first generation taking the brand outside of Great Britain. They now export their shoes to Asia, and with FN PLATFORM, they will add the USA into the mix.

Customization

Woodford cuts and designs all new patterns, giving Crown Northampton the unique ability to style, design, create and make anything a potential customer would like within their own shoe collection. He says:

We have a strong belief that giving the design freedom to customers is the foundation of creativity and collaboration. By sharing our skills and visions, we are building future collections with our customers at the forefront of the design process. We continue making the finest quality English/British shoes with the material and workmanship qualities that would make our ancestors proud.

Woodford is looking forward to representing his family’s tradition at FN PLATFORM. He wants to meet retailers as well as other exhibitors and individuals who appreciate fine, handcrafted shoes. This is a milestone for his family business, as the show will open many doors to global business. Stop by the Crown Northampton booth and meet a 5th generation cobbler and shoe designer!